For over two decades, Annabeth Rosen has interrogated the medium of ceramics. Formally trained in ceramics, yet heavily influenced by painterly gesture, Rosen expanded her practice to include conceptually driven sculptural forms early in her career. She has continually explored the temporal nature of the medium, melding a performative dimension into both material and process. Composed through laborious, additive processes, Rosen’s monumental sculptures push the medium beyond spectacle and into conversations about contemporary painting, feminist theory, endurance-based performance, and conceptual art.
Rosen’s artistic approach—grounded in resourcefulness, endurance, and a strong work ethic—can be traced back to her working class, east coast upbringing. Drawing from the ethos that everything can always be fixed, re-used, or refashioned, the artist embraces the impulse to accrue and bind as well as resurrect fragments with both ceramic sculpture and works on paper. Embracing chance as an essential element in the formation of her works, Rosen sees both the studio and the kiln as spaces of invention. The artist rarely attempts to obscure her hand as a primary instrument and often “binds” multitudes of discrete, smaller pieces to create singular, large-scale sculptures. While her earlier works engaged first with traditional forms, such as the plate, bowl, or cylinder, she later became inspired by landscape and nature, following her move to Northern California, with forms that evoke earth strata, ecosystems, and life cycles. More recent works push past the physical realm and into landscape of literature. An avid reader, Rosen meditates on the precarious balance between fantasy and realism that is presented in fables. Four monumental sculptures that rise in towering formation or cascade toward the floor underscore playfulness and humor—elegantly balanced on steel armatures that gird them from underneath.
This installation marks the debut presentation of this series of works that are accompanied by Rosen’s works on paper, providing for the viewer an immersive experience of entering the artist’s studio. Her drawings and collage work often serve to reverberate her sculptural works and are often done in tandem.
Celebrated as an artist’s artist, Rosen is a pioneer in the field of contemporary ceramics, who brings fluidity to the practice and its discourse with contemporary art. Within the genre’s trajectory, Rosen functions as an important link between such artists as Peter Voulkos, Jun Kaneko, Mary Heilmann, Lynda Benglis, and a new generation of artists working in the medium.
Annabeth Rosen: Fables is organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on the occasion of the 54th Annual NCECA Conference titled MULTIVALENT: Clay, Mindfulness, and Memory, being held in Richmond, March 25–28, 2020.