Clay Houses

Recent archaeology at the Frye.

Because Seattle is hosting this month's big NCECA confab (that's the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, for you non-clay-heads), just about every gallery in town is showing something spun, fired, or glazed. That's a lot of pottery, but Sarah Haven takes a different approach in the wall-mounted little houses in Just Because I'm a Girl. It's agenda art, a post-feminist consideration of what the Ellensburg artist calls her "longings for domesticity." About two dozen ceramic domiciles present the literal façades of domestic bliss. They have minor variations in form—windows, doors, and side walls bearing the XX chromosomes that make women women. But when you peer into some of the tiny windows, there are slogans and tokens of conflicted femininity. There's a bra, a wedding ring, a vacuum cleaner, a speculum. "A woman's work is never done," reads one adage. "Sugar and spice," says another. And "Damaged goods." The little houses have a simple, slightly cartoonish line to their architecture, with only the features a little girl might think of when asked to draw an ideal home. (Chimneys, apparently, are a thing of the past.) They have the inviting aspect of dollhouses, only the doors and windows don't open. They're constrictive and—when presented as a group—slightly ominous, like the ticky-tacky suburban homes in the old Pete Seeger song "Little Boxes." If a woman chooses to enter one, Haven suggests, she may never escape. 

 
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