ceramic art

The Magic Box Complete

The Magic Box has been the central focus of Foxy-Wolff over the last three years. During that time the project evolved into more than we could have imagined when we conceived the idea in hotel room in Hays Kansas. To bring all that time and work together into a solid installation was the focus of nearly a year of that time.

The first step to bring the installation to completion was the show catalog. The size of the objects with their projections makes photography one of the most demanding aspects of a show like this. To get the images we felt we needed, we were fortunate to borrow the gallery at Colorado State University.

Magic Box Catalog (low res)

This was a dress rehearsal for installing the complete show and so required us to consider every aspect carefully. This meant pulling together and retesting all the tech, building the pedestals, and solving the problems set aside for later consideration. Once done, we were ready to set up and photograph the show.

Because projected video is such a crucial element of the installation, lighting the gallery was a central consideration every time it went up. For the catalog we lit the space far more than we did for the actual showings of the work, but even so the images were very challenging to work with.

One of the most incredible things about this project is how multifaceted it is, requiring us to extend all of our skill sets. This was especially true of the catalog. Most graduate students hire out this aspect of their MFA show, but because of my intermedia emphasis, I chose to do this myself. One of the long-term goals of my education was to become proficient in Photoshop and Illustrator. This was the first step on that road. Using some terrific online tutorials, I shut myself in the house for 6 weeks and got focused. In the end I had to learn Indesign as well, plus stay focused through repeated edits but it was a wonderful period of learning and we were really happy with the result. Here is a link to the tastytuts channel. It’s a fantastic resource.


Once all these preliminaries were complete we were off to install the show at the Moss-Thornes gallery on the FHSU campus in Hays Kansas. Getting the work and equipment to the gallery was our next major hurdle. Our plan was to rent a truck but by the time we finished acquiring all the last-minute gear for the show we were way over budget on the project and so had to find another option. fortunately we were able to arrange the install with graduation weekend so my parents took it and us in their camper and we all stayed for the weekend.

We consider the blog and the website a central piece of The Magic Box. To bring those aspects into the gallery we used QR codes as gallery tags. We generated these through a Japanese company that allowed us to incorporate text and images into the codes design. Using these meant we could keep text and other distractions to a minimum in the space and worked beautifully with the overall content of the piece.  All the QR tags are shown in the catalog pdf above.

Once all the details came together the installation came down to the same effort and endurance required of all installation days. Though exhausting, this is one of our favorite aspects of working in the visual arts. With a couple of good hard days we had the show up and ready for visitors.

In addition to the show in Hays we were fortunate to be invited to show it at the Hoag Gallery at Colorado State University-Pueblo. It was wonderful to get to put it up and take it down so many times in a year, of course each gallery added new features and challenges to the work which really allowed us to understand the dynamics of the entire show.


It’s a thrill to see the installation complete and hear from so many people who appreciated the work. We have settled on our next large-scale project and will be developing clay bodies and concepts in the coming months, stay tuned.








Building the Bear Cave

The third video in  the “Magic Box” series is nearly finished, so to prepare for its release we are going back and giving a look at some of the aspects that have gone into its making. As Gabe was the lead on the cave and did the majority of the work, it seemd important for him to tell its story. Since video is his mode of expression, he put this together to detail the process of its making.

ceramic art

International Top 10: Lin Tianmiao

lin tianmiao6

Though the relationship to ceramic with the work of artist Lin Tianmiao is not specific, I do feel it has a place in this group because of her strong commitment to the use of video in her installations and her ongoing collaboration with her husband, the video artist Wang Gongxin.  The other obvious relationship to the ceramics discipline is her commitment to objects.  Here we see common household objects , particularly those specific to her domestic life in her home in China.  Using objects as  a base, she winds thread, either silk or cotton to completely cover the object.  This has the effect of transforming the objects into a new idea, much like the transformation of the caterpillar in a cocoon.  They tare elevated in a way, stripped of individual identity and placed carefully into the gallery context, where they are then celebrated as art objects, rather than passed over as common household debris.

lin tianmiao


Tianmiao’s work is often considered feminist, and though the artist freely admits much of the work is based on her life and experiences as a woman, She asks the viewer not to judge the work based on that criteria or on that of a Chinese artist.  Her request is that we see the work from an international perspective, and evaluate it there.  I think this is valuable advice.  When we view a man’s work, no matter how autobiographical, we never speak of it as dealing with men’s issues.  Somehow pigeonholing this work as feminist, reduces its importance to the larger movement of world art making.

lin tianmiao2

Here we see not all women’s bodies, or a general body, but Tianmiao’s body.  Her own personal statement about life and the transition of a midlife crisis.  She will admit that all women must undergo this emotional adjustment, but she does not claim to be laying a roadmap for all women to follow.  This is a personal journey of a particular experience.

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The placement of video within the installations is subtle and engaging.  Here the video is nestled in the center of a woven nest, a place for birth, as she winds the thousands of thread balls on the screen to create the work displayed.  This display of process is an invitation to consider the countless hours that go into the creation of works made with the hand.  The digital reference to that hand adds layers to the conceptual message of the work.

Video about the show Bound Unbound for the Asia Society in New York


Her Website