Blue and white ceramics course through several traditions. One is the Spode factory in Stoke-on-Trent, England. Spode, a top dog in British ceramics, utilized transfer prints to make china more affordable in the 19th century. The factory closed in 2009. British artist Paul Scott salvaged half-completed china from the factory floor, upon which he printed his own images — one of the “closed” sign on the gates of the shuttered factory, another of the abandoned kiln room. Like Agee, he turns decorative ware into dark political commentary.
Artists can do just about anything with the blue and white motif; it’s as versatile as paint. Claire Curneen’s “Blue” explores the emotional resonances of that color, with two figures covered in a melting cobalt floral pattern, their hands nearly touching — are they moving toward each other, or pulling away?
“New Blue and White,” in the way of contemporary art, challenges old forms and ideas, even as it brims over with cultural and personal echoes. It’s hard to walk away.
Cate McQuaid can be reached at email@example.com.