One glance at the work of Joanna Poag and it is easy to tell just how much time and thought the artist puts into each clay coil and creative stroke.
Poag’s “Shifts in Balance” exhibition was erected on March 28 in the Bertha V. B. Lederer Gallery. “Shifts in Balances” represents Poag’s own personal shift in her life with the presence of her two children.
The idea to bring Poag’s work to Geneseo came from Gallery Director Cynthia Hawkins, who met the artist through Luvon Sheppard, a previous watercolor professor at Geneseo who now teaches at Rochester Institute of Technology.
“I went to Batavia to see [Poag’s] exhibit and it was outstanding. It had a very large ceramic work, some of it hanging from the ceiling. I mean large scale, you don’t make ceramics that big unless you really know what you’re doing,” Hawkins said. “So they were really impressive [and] that was when I thought we’ll do a show, but that was four years ago.”
Four years later, however, things changed for Poag, which directly influenced her work, according to Hawkins.
“One of the things that happened to her between the time I met her and say the opening of this show is two children,” Hawkins said. “So one of the things that she found … is that your time is really restricted on how much you can put into the studio and what kinds of things you can do [when you have children].”
Due to her chaotic home life, the main concept represented in Poag’s exhibit is the presence of structure, according to Hawkins. Each piece of art, whether it is a ceramic sculpture or a drawing, is divided into sections based on days of the week or visual categories.
For example, one of the main ceramic sculptures titled, “Entropy 1-7 (Days of the Week),” contains seven separate oval shaped sculptures to represent the seven days of the week, each with ceramic coils arranged in different ways.
“Entropy 16” is another set of ceramic sculptures that hang on the wall. They are similar to “Entropy 1-7 (Days of the Week)” in that the coils are arranged in a variety of ways.
Although it was not Poag’s intent, Hawkins commented on how the coils look like a sea anemone. That appearance, however, speaks to how free flowing the three-dimensional structures are, even though they are so delicate.
Student gallery coordinator senior Mieko Palazzo helped move Poag’s artwork, and during the process she realized just how delicate it was.
“I really liked how the material looked so movable but it’s actually not hard … it looks like it’s something you could touch and play with, but it’s really not,” Palazzo said. “The way she could make something look so sturdy, when it is so breakable, is interesting to me.”
Along with the ceramic sculptures were drawings Poag created, which were similar in terms of content to the sculptures.
“These drawings, some of them, they relate to this sort of coil process that [Poag’s] been using, but they also feel like stalactites but soft,” Hawkins said.
Alongside “Shifts in Balance” in Gallery B2 is the concurrent exhibit, “Beyond All Repair: Language and Vision by MaryAnn L. Miller and J. C. Todd.” Miller created a visual book, while Todd—who has three children who served in the military—supplied the poetry.
“[Miller and Todd’s gallery] is really about the female physician’s point-of-view being in Afghanistan and what she is seeing and having to deal with, it’s crazy stuff,” Hawkins said.
Poag has shown her work around Western New York and it has appeared in the art magazine Ceramic Monthly, according to the Geneseo website. Poag also obtained her MFA from the School for American Crafts at RIT and her BS from Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, where she is now an assistant professor of art, according to joannapoag.com.
Joanna Poag’s work will be on display in the Lederer Gallery in Brodie Hall until April 28.