Richard Shaw: On Ships
Richard Shaw‘s trompe l’oeil ceramic works usually show mundane objects. He also puts together a group of found objects, and that makes for some pretty unlikely combinations. Our show, Still Life, opens next week on the 17th of January. In his still life sculptures, he talks about time (idle moments in the studio), fragility and luck (a house of cards), and mortality (a sketchbook with a skull and a cup). But one thing keeps coming back: the representation of a ship. In an interview last year, he talked about the ships:
Shaw: I had a show in 1970 of ceramic pieces…and that was the beginning of the ship pieces, too. Then the ship pieces culminated the next year, 1971, when I did that couch piece with the sinking ship that Rene di Rosa has…I got into the Titanic because-first of all, it’s kind of spooky. I mean the idea of being so confident, and the bad fairy gets you right in the middle of the ocean, and in the nighttime! But some of those pieces are kind of funny, too, you know-making lids of ships that you could take off…
Richard Whittaker: It seems to me there is a layer in some of your work that does reference the dark side of things.
Shaw: I think it’s spooky and everything is on levels. I don’t know if you saw some of the iceberg ones. I made a ship on an iceberg and then everything lit up. They’re from about 1990. It’s spooky, but then it’s kind of funny because it’s an object made out of something else. Again, I’m not making fun of tragedy, but when some of these things get old enough, they sort of become something else. They get into the joke mythology.
(portions of an interview published by Braunstein/Quay, 2007)