Jen Mills logo


Funded in part by the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, Handle with Care featured the work of Thomas Müller, Julie Poitras-Santos and Joanie Turbek; artists who use ceramic's fragility to explore issues of chance, risk, and impermanence.


Curator's Statement by Jen Mills

With this exhibition, I want to challenge the perception of ceramics as precious, as something to be approached with hesitation. I have long been interested in how ceramics can be both associated with fragilIty, yet be the one material that can survive thousands of years. The title Handle with Care embodies this dichotomy, while at the same time a cautionary directive open to interpretation.

While Thomas Müller, Julie Poitras Santos and Joanie Turbek all use the notion of fragility in ceramics in their work in different ways, each embraces the possibility of chance, risk, and imperfection, thus making their work even more powerful. This exhibition is a celebration of three won- derful artists who aren't afraid to embrace vulnerability as strength.

Ceramics has long been defined by its materiality, but it also has amazing ways of showcasing concepts and resonances not possible with other media; this exhibition highlights some great examples.




Catalog Introduction by Pottery Northwest Director Wally Bivens

The phrase Handle with Care conjures many thoughts. While I am not about to submit you to "the dictionary says..." technique of explaining a topic, it is worth underscoring the irony of the title curator Jen Mills has chosen for the exhibition. I am quite certain that many of us associate ceramics with fragility. It is vulnerable to a cavalier treatment, and impermanence is full focus in this exhibition.

Lately I find myself working with an archeological crew from the University of Washington reconstructing vessels from the Jomon period. Through all this time, it is the ceramic shards that have lasted, though in different form than they were originally constructed. That perhaps is the state of contemporary ceramics. It is an exciting proposition; the material exploration endures but the nature of the exploration changes.


That notion of impermanence pervades the works and methods of Müller, Poitras-Santos and Turbek. It is pervasive to the manner in which each artist physically address the material and perhaps even more so in the way they address ideas. A willingness to challenge convention is a hallmark of a healthy form and its practitioners. To challenge with care is a large step towards insuring a substantive investigation. I think that has been well demonstrated here.







purchase Handle with Care catalog


more texts