The Lightness of Being
A group show of leading female ceramicists takes shape in Lisa Perry’s new East Hampton-home exhibition venture.
Onna House, East Hampton
Until 3rd September, 2022
IN 2021, COLLECTOR, philanthropist, and design entrepreneur Lisa Perry purchased a derelict modernist home in East Hampton’s storied Georgica neighbourhood. Designed by Le Corbusier-trained architect Paul Lester Wiener in 1962, the decidedly International Style structure reflects the fundamental modernist principles of an open floor plan, floor-to-ceiling windows, and seamless transition between indoor to outdoor spaces. Renovating this private home back to its former glory, while also bringing it up to contemporary standards, was a labour of love for Perry. The result is a minimalist gem incorporating black and white detailing and quality building materials, as well as meticulously manicured gardens.
“It still had beautiful bones, so it just needed some love,” she explains. “I took on this project not knowing what it would turn into. After spending some time in the home, the concept of Onna House came together for me in a beautiful moment. I’ve always been a champion of women and women’s rights, and so I wanted to create a platform to help support women artists and designers. ‘Onna’ means women in Japanese, and that’s the vibe I was going for.” The shows so far have combined works by established and emerging women artists working in various craft-led mediums, both locally and internationally.
Centred around a pebbled courtyard with an old-growth tree branching out beyond the flat roof, the U-shaped home exudes serenity – a welcome respite from the hurried pace of summer in the Hamptons and its ever-expanding art scene. Open to collectors, design lovers, friends, and friends of friends by appointment, Perry’s new venture builds on the new “lived-in home” exhibition model (as pioneered by Object & Thing and Galerie Philia, amongst others). The culture maker plans to programme two temporary exhibitions each summer and curate a permanent collection throughout the rest of the year.
On view till 3rd September, ‘The Lightness of Being’ exhibition brings together new works by Katherine Glenday, Leah Kaplan, Sabra Moon Elliot, Yoona Hur, and Yuko Nishikawa. Though diverse in their implementation of clay, each ceramicist grapples with questions of environment, healing and movement in their own way. While Yoona Hur reinterprets the ancient Joseon dynasty moon jars of her native South Korea as a means of finding identity, Kaplan uses porcelain to experiment with unconventional assembly techniques and visceral textures.
Presented in partnership with New York gallery Les Atelier Courbet, Cape Town-born Katherine Glenday’s paper-thin vessels take centre stage on black wooden furniture designed by Anna Karlin. Perry explains that Yuko Nishikawa’s site-specific installation is actually made of paper pulp, “but she’s a ceramicist by trade. She does these magical, whimsical environments that are just so playful, so fun. She does everything herself, all the mechanisms.” Composed of suspended shells cast in various pastel hues, the mise-en-scene provides a strong contrast to the home’s stark black pillars and white infill walls. Chiming with the architecture’s paired-back geometry are Sabra Moon Elliot’s woven/relief-like wall pieces.
Perry is no stranger to ceramics – an increasingly popular medium in both art and collectible design markets. “My mother owned an art gallery outside of Chicago in the early 1970s, and she specialised in ceramics, which was more commonly referred to as pottery back then,” she concludes. “I was immediately drawn to these vessels and their unique shapes, sizes and textures. Fast-forward to today. I’m thrilled to present a ceramics show at Onna House, showcasing work from five female artists who share the same sensibilities as the artists my mother showcased those many years ago when I first fell in love with pots! I’m especially proud to highlight women artists, a focus that sadly wasn’t seen in my mom’s era.”