The first ever survey exhibition of the works of ceramic sculptor Etta Winigrad opens at Main Line Art Center on September 7th. Playing With Fire: The Life & Work of Etta Winigrad will be on view in the Center’s galleries through October 20, 2019 with an opening reception on Saturday, September 14th at 6 PM.
The exhibition, celebrating the creative evolution, artistic career, and abundant life of the Philadelphia based ceramic sculptor, will feature over 100 pieces of work and inspirations spanning over five decades of Winigrad’s prolific career and travels around the world.
Primitive shape and metaphor form the basis of Etta’s artistic vocabulary. Her unique and distinct smoking technique imprints the work with a timeless and emotional quality that purposely obscures the origin of her subjects, rendering them identifiable only as human. At once archaic and symbolic, whimsical and serious, Etta’s sculptures attempt to illustrate ideas and concerns of existence by using realistic and fantastical elements. Observers are invited to draw on their own imagination and life experiences for interpretation and connection. For over 50 years, through clay and smoke, Etta has carefully explored the universal and elemental, human experience.
“Mounting a retrospective of Etta’s artwork has been a goal of mine since I first laid eyes on her stunning emotional work,” said Thomas Scurto-Davis, Executive Director of Main Line Art Center and Exhibition Curator. “I am thrilled that we are finally able to do it and exceedingly grateful to Etta and her family for their enthusiasm and involvement in helping us pull it off!”
Much of Etta’s inspiration comes from her extensive travels and resulting observations. When travelling abroad, Etta intentionally attempted to shed her western identity, removing the superficial cultural markers that mask our shared humanity. Through these experiences, Etta developed her view of the world as an organic being, and her belief that it exists for all to share equally and interact with, regardless of origin, identity or privilege.
Winigrad attended Lower Merion High School and earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts from the University Pennsylvania in 1958. She completed postgraduate studies at Moore College and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She has served as treasurer of the Muse Gallery and Foundation, was on the board of directors of the Clay Studio in Philadelphia, and has been a member of the American Crafts Council, the International Sculpture Center, and the Woman’s Caucus for Arts.
Winigrad’s work reflects her deep connection to Judaism and she created a prize-winning sculpture addressing the Holocaust for the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey. She has exhibited her ceramic sculpture at numerous galleries across the country and has commissioned work at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, among others. Winigrad has won awards from: the Art Association of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, State College, Pennsylvania; Main Line Art Center, Pennsylvania; Abington Art Center, Jenkintown, Pennsylvania; and Pavilion Gallery, Memorial Hospital, Mt. Holly, New Jersey. Her work can be found around the world in the homes of her many collectors and if you look closely, you can find fragments of her work spread throughout Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Gardens on South Street in Philadelphia!
In September, Main Line Art Center’s galleries are open Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 9 pm, and Friday through Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. For more information visitor call 610.525.0272.