The Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art is proud to present Marking Time, an exhibition of ceramic sculpture by Las Vegas artist Sierra Slentz. Every evening since the beginning of the pandemic shutdown in March 2020, Slentz has created one new 4 x 4 inch clay form in response to the thoughts and emotions that have affected her during the day. This exhibition marks the debut of the complete series of 365 forms. Installed in a grid that covers an entire wall of the Barrick Museum’s East Gallery, the ceramic sculptures come together to suggest a day-by-day visual journal measuring the rituals, discoveries, and challenges of a year shaped by COVID-19.
Audiences who encountered Slentz’s previous sculptural “diary” in the windows of Las Vegas City Hall in late 2019 or the early months of 2020 will notice that Covid has changed her method of measuring time. Where the previous series reflected the artist’s outdoor journeys on foot, this series is characterized by her attention to the indoor life of the shutdown, a time of reflection and confinement permeated by information from the wider world filtering in through the internet. Slentz notes that her daily thoughts were often influenced by news headlines. Where the sculptures in her earlier series were often embellished with materials from the environment, such as stones and rabbit fur, the works in Marking Time are intentionally focused on the expressiveness of pure clay and glaze.
Originally trained as a painter, Slentz has paid attention to the painterly potential of three-dimensional surface and form. She relishes the suspended fluidity of dried clay slip, and the contrast between protruding areas of mass that catch the light while other areas create shadow. Noticing that people under the shutdown became more resourceful, more conscious of waste, she decided not to throw away sculptures that broke during the creative process. Instead she drilled holes in the clay and stitched the pieces back together, adding the accidental breakage to her visual diary.
By making her reaction to the pandemic so clearly visible, Slentz invites us to reflect on the journeys we’ve gone through over the past year. Did our experiences look like hers? How were they different? “If clay has sustained her,” the viewer might ask themselves, “then what has sustained me? How have I measured time?”
Sierra Slentz is a mother, visual artist, and educator who uses ceramic objects and installations to explore the persistence of human intervention and humanity’s unintentional mark on the landscape. Trained as a photographer and interdisciplinary artist, she earned her BFA from Sierra Nevada College in 1997 and her MFA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2001. Her practice is informed by her interest in geological formations, archeological finds, and her time spent in the desert observing life cycles and urban sprawl. Slentz’s work is part of the permanent collection at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. She has exhibited at venues across Southern Nevada, including Las Vegas City Hall and Core Contemporary, Las Vegas. Born in Laguna Beach, CA, she currently lives and works in Downtown Las Vegas. The artist would like to thank her family and friends, a.k.a. her quarantine crew, for their support and encouragement over the past year.
The exhibition runs from April 19 - July 9, 2021. Entry to the museum is free. Please see the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art website to read our safety guidelines and make a timed reservation before you visit.