Quick Wit, Hard Play
Eric Anthony Berdis, Rice Evans
Public Reception: October 6th, 2023, 6-9PM
Artist Talks: October 6th, 2023, 7PM
Quick Wit, Hard Play is an exhibition of craft practices that employ humor to critique social structures.
Eric Anthony Berdis: “My studio practice lifts up and mimics a queer cannon of artists on the fray of art history. They are the not forgotten giants I’m lucky to stand on the shoulders of. Their methods of making become my lexicon for symbols, gestures, and approaches to craft. Using personal secrets, queer history, and gay boy glamour, my work builds a world for my audience to enter.
In periods of instability, insecurity, and oppression, I, as a queer maker, continuously find ways to imagine and embody joy through my practice. Happiness and play are not only sought after during difficult times but are arguably necessary for survival. Quilting and fiber practices have a long history of leisure and making for pleasure. For queer artists like myself, joy is an act of resilience—a critical method of subverting hegemonic narratives of suffering. In silliness and irreverence, I reflect on acts of violence, the AIDS crisis, and national moments of queer sorrow. Through childlike play, whimsical materials become a cast of characters that blur the line between ghosts, villains, and friends. These ghosts are not white cotton bedsheets we see at Halloween time. They are quilted, weighted down with thrift store cast-offs, hobbyist craft supplies, and of course…sequins.”
Berdis is an artist and educator whose practice strives to celebrate DIY collectivity and play for themself and his students. All while reflecting on the ghost of queer history and activism. Eric has received honors from the Amos Lemon Burkhart Foundation, the Lydia McCain Artist Fellowship, and Slippery Rock’s 10 Under 10 Awards. He has had solo exhibitions at The Marlin and Regina Miller Art Gallery as the Artist in Residence at the Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, the University Galleries of Illinois State University, Random Access Gallery (Syracuse, NY), Project 1612 (Peoria, IL), Practice Gallery (Philadelphia, PA), and Bunker Project (Pittsburgh, PA). They have also shown work at Amos Eno Gallery (NYC), Iridian Gallery (Richmond, VA), Stay Home Gallery (Paris, TN), the Erie Art Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. His work has been published in Teaching Artist Podcast, Emergency Index Annual Performance Publication, and New American Paintings.
Rice Evans: “My work is a history of nonessential personal influences. These influences–mainly magazines, crafts, reality television, commercials, parental advice, and analog technology–all had an intangible impact on the type of person I would develop into 10-ish years later. I have always been nostalgic, and going through the weird cabinets of references circling in my mind drives me to create objects. Not because they were hugely impactful but because they were minorly impactful in ways I am still discovering. Subconsciously paramount but consciously negligible. They are important enough for me to remember vividly ten-odd years later, so their effect is much like a song stuck in your head: It’s annoying but engrained in the psyche. I can make all the art in the world about grand influences in my life like my parent’s divorce, various heartbreaking relationships, and my discovery of two-part epoxy, but their force and effect on my personality and behavior are apparent. I am more interested in the earworm influences or the unobvious baggage I carry. Stuff that gets stuck into my brain like burrs that stick to your pant legs. Sure, the burrs have a plan in place, but as the host of the burrs, I am unaware of their trajectory. They seem stuck to me, so isn’t that important enough to acknowledge?”
Evans is a queer ceramic artist originally from the Midwest. Evans received her BFA from Alfred University in 2016 and her MFA in Ceramics from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2021. She is an adjunct faculty and the ceramic studio coordinator in the Clay Area of the Craft/Material Studies department at VCU.
Quick Wit, Hard Play opens to view on October 6th at Waterloo Arts Gallery (15605 Waterloo Rd). A public reception will also take place during the Walk All Over Waterloo on Friday, October 6th from 6-9pm with the opening of Photo Poets in the Waterloo Arts café space. These exhibitions will be open to visit through November 11th during regular gallery hours on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 12pm-4pm, and by appointment on weekdays. To request an appointment, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 216.692.9500.
Both the Quick Wit, Hard Play and Photo Poets artists will also be giving their artist talks together during their opening reception on Friday, October 6th at 7PM.