Glitter and Dirt

Glitter and Dirt is an exhibition of art by Garth Johnson and Claire Joyce, two artists who plumb the boundaries of art and craft, as well as high and low culture. Johnson and Joyce share an obsession with their respective materials—ceramics and glitter. They also share a bed. Since their marriage in 2006, they have moved from Georgia, where Joyce received her MFA in painting to Southern California, where Johnson taught at art Golden West College in Huntington Beach, and finally to Eureka, California, where they both teach at College of the Redwoods and work on their vintage 1905 Victorian house.

Glitter and Dirt is a meditation on material. Johnson is obsessed with the history of porcelain. This led the couple to a Summer 2010 residency in Jingdezhen, China, where porcelain was invented and perfected. Garth’s ceramic work explores the gray area between faceless industrial mass-production and loving handicraft. His work represents an often humorous take on the conventions and rituals of porcelain.

Joyce’s work represents a jaw-dropping mastery over a common material that must be seen in person to be believed. Her photo-realistic domestic/historical tableaus are made entirely of glitter, carefully sprinkled into glue. Each “painting” represents hundreds of hours of obsessive work, similar to the intensity and focus that Tibetan Monks put into sand mandalas. Joyce’s work is not only autobiographical in that she uses herself as a subject—her chosen materials also reflect her upbringing in a “craft-positive” family.

In addition to his work in ceramics, Garth Johnson is also the author of 1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse. He also maintains the popular weblog Extreme Craft ( Garth and Claire are also frequent contributors to Readymade magazine’s Inside and Out blog.