Pictured: two works included in the exhibition Connected Spaces. Pictured left: Michael F. Rohde, Heart (detail), 2016. Tapestry: wool, silk, natural dyes. 36 x 32 inches. Photo by Andrew Neuhart. Pictured right: Cheryl Ann Thomas, Gold Cipher, 2020. Porcelain. 34.5 x 17 x 15 inches.

On View:March 12, 2022–August 21, 2022
Reception:March 12, 2022, 3–5 PM

Exhibition Overview

Connected Spaces presents nearly 50 artworks by California-based artists Michael F. Rohde and Cheryl Ann Thomas. This assembly of ceramic sculptures and woven tapestries is focused on a recent series created by the artists through a year-long artistic interchange in 2020-2021. The exhibition will also include earlier pieces by both artists to complement the interchange series and provide context. 

Connected Spaces: Cheryl Ann Thomas + Michael F. Rohde is curated by Jo Lauria, Adjunct Curator.

From the Curator

Michael Rohde and Cheryl Ann Thomas are longtime friends whose art practices were markedly different: Rohde, a weaver, worked with threads and loom; Thomas, a ceramist, utilized clay and kiln. The exhibition’s genesis developed from the concept of interchange: the act of mutually giving and receiving and the exchange of ideas. The artists first identified the common ground in their art practices from this launching site and asked critical questions about their motivations and commitments.

Cheryl Ann Thomas: “Friendships enhance individuals through an interchange of ideas. Something new emerges that might not have been imagined. In looking at Michael’s work, I consider colors and patterns that I might not have thought of – his approach is unique and considered. The materials we use have commonalities. Color comes from natural materials; his forms are built up slowly, as are mine. Both works have a similar continuous line. Since my coils are not smoothed out, people often mistake my pieces for woven objects. Our methods of constructing a form, line by line, are slow and contemplative. What would happen if we agreed to create a new body of work based on a consideration of how fiber and clay could speak to each other? How would collaboration lead us to a new direction in our separate disciplines? We have agreed to commit ourselves to this investigation.”

Michael Rohde: “There are so many commonalities between how Cheryl and I approach our own art-making, as Cheryl has cited. To these, I would add the vector of time: each process is slow in execution with long hours working in isolation, hence the meditative aspect of our processes. Beyond that, we both use our medium with a contrarian approach. What ceramist would over-fire her carefully built forms? Why would a weaver depart from centuries of trying to turn representational paintings into woven images? We both chose to break the rules of our craft and make something new. Taking the approach further, we decided to embark on this joint project, breaking out of our isolated practices and entering into an interchange of ideas, forms, and the expression of both.”

During the exchange period, Cheryl changed to a different clay body for a distinctive series of vessels, shifting from her studio porcelain that produced an opaque finish to one formulated to produce translucency when fired. Michael reacted to this shift by varying the materials and scale of the tapestries that represent this distinct series. Responding to the reflective qualities of the new pieces, Michael selected silk yarns to weave the vessel profiles, as silk is a more lustrous material than the wool he had been using to execute the previous tapestries. Further, since the vessels in this series were of a smaller scale, Michael reduced the size of the weavings to better correspond to the more diminutive proportions. In the design of the exhibition, the plan is to separate this group of translucent vessels and silk weavings to amplify their connection – just one of several revelations to be savored in Connected Spaces

About the Artists

Cheryl Ann Thomas

Cheryl Ann Thomas, born 1943 in Santa Monica, CA, received her BFA from the Art Center College of Design in 1982 and began practicing art fulltime in the late 1990s. Her first solo exhibition was in 2000, and her work has since been exhibited in solo and group shows in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Santa Fe, Paris (France), and China. Her work is included in the collections of the American Museum of Ceramic Art, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Fuller Craft Museum, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Henan Museum in China, and the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art in Toronto, Canada. She is a grant recipient from the prestigious Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and received the Lee Krasner Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2020.

Thomas lives and works in Ventura, California.

Learn more on her website.

Michael F. Rohde

Michael F. Rohde, born 1943, has been weaving since 1973 and completed his studies at the Alfred Glassel School of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts in 1981. His work has been included in the United States Department of State Art in Embassies Program, exhibits at the Textile Museum in Washington, DC, the American Craft Museum in New York, the invitational Triennial of Tapestry in Lodz, Poland, from Lausanne to Beijing, solo exhibits at the Janina Monkute-Marks Museum in Lithuania as well as at the San Luis Obispo (CA) Musuem of Art, and in an exhibition at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park in San Diego. His work is in the permanent collections of the Textile Museum (Washington, DC), the Mingei International Museum, the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, the Ventura County Museum of Art, the Racine Art Museum, and The Art Institute of Chicago.

Rohde lives and works in Westlake Village, California.

Learn more on his website and follow him on Instagram.

About the Curator

Jo Lauria is one of the Southern California’s foremost curators of ceramic arts. A former curator of decorative arts at LACMA where she organized the seminal exhibition Color and Fire: Defining Moments in Studio Ceramics, 1950-2000, Lauria’s past curatorial projects at AMOCA include Common Ground: Ceramics in Southern California (1945–1975)Honoring the Past, Embracing the Future: AMOCA’s 10th AnniversaryDiscovering Saar Ceramics, and Silver Splendor: The Art of Anna Silver.

Learn more at JoLauria.com or follow her on Instagram.

This exhibition is funded in part by the Boardman Family Foundation and The LA County Department of Arts & Culture.

Featured Media

Pictured: "Party of Three" by Cheryl Ann Thomas (included in Connected Spaces: Cheryl Ann Thomas + Michael F. Rohde)
Cheryl Ann Thomas, Party of Three, 2020. Porcelain, 18x16x12 inches (Gold, left), 32.5x13x13 inches (Gray, middle), 17x13x13 inches (Pink, right).
Pictured: "re Party of Three" by Michael F. Rohde (included in Connected Spaces: Cheryl Ann Thomas + Michael F. Rohde)

Michael F. Rohde, re Party of Three: Gold (left), re Party of Three: Gray (middle), and re Party of Three: Pink (right), 2021. Handwoven tapestry: silk, wool, natural dyes, 30 x 24 inches (each) framed. Photos by W. Scott Miles.

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