Art in focus: “Walter McConnell: New Theories”

Not that there's anything wrong with a making a tea pot, but for many contemporary ceramicists, clay is a vessel that can hold more than liquid. Walter McConnell is such a conceptualist, pouring ideas into his ceramic work, which includes temporary, wet-clay installations (mounted under moisture-retaining plastic sheets) that explore the ways in which we construct our understanding of nature, through landscape and other art forms.

Two small examples of McConnell's wet-clay sculpture, from the artist's "Itinerant Eden" series, are on view at Cross MacKenzie Gallery. But the showstopper is a towering heap of fired porcelain called "Dark Stupa." Cast from hundreds of hobby-shop molds, and featuring a bust of Elvis, the work plays with the highbrow-lowbrow divide, and questions the nature of artistic production and value.

Read my full review, and check out a selection of images from McConnell's work in the gallery above.

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Michael O’Sullivan has worked since 1993 at The Washington Post, where he covers art, film and other forms of popular — and unpopular — culture.

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Jess Righthand · February 14, 2013