Rebecca Manson: Barbecue

May 24, 2024 - August 25, 2024
Rebecca Manson

Rebecca Manson
Barbecue, 2024
Porcelain, glaze, steel, adhesives and glass
Dimensions variable

© Rebecca Manson. Courtesy of the Artist.

May 24, 2024 - August 25, 2024

Rebecca Manson: Barbecue defies viewers’ expectations of what clay can do by pushing the material to its most fragile and muscular places. Comprised of thousands of individually crafted ceramic leaves, flowers, a barbecue grill, and assorted detritus that swell into piles, this site-responsive installation creates moments for self-reflection. The immersive work is displayed in the ellipse, the Modern’s oval first-floor gallery, typically reserved for permanent collection works. This exhibition marks Manson’s first solo presentation in a museum.

The mounds, some standing over six feet high, are piled against the walls of the ellipse creating a path that allows visitors to explore the space. While walking along the designated trail, elements of a summer barbecue come into view—yet the scene, with fallen leaves changing color, is autumnal. Tensions arise between the different seasons depicted in Barbecue. Apprehension gnaws at the senses with the creeping realization that even the smallest spark from the grill can set dry leaves ablaze. Within the installation, these disparate moments converge to forge a fantastical chaos that illuminates the beautiful and tenuous underpinnings of daily life.  

Barbecue’s enveloping foliage juxtaposes sweeping gestures with instances of stillness. As with much of her work, the exhibition suggests a “visceral commonplace,” a term Manson uses to describe her combination of recognizable forms with sophistic and surreal narratives. These dualities, among others, are present in Barbecue to demonstrate the simultaneous existence of opposing realities.

Manson’s visual language derives from nature but elicits the complexities of human experience, evoking universal questions about life, mortality, anxiety, nostalgia, memory, and humanity’s connection to nature. The leaves not only relate to the cyclical nature of a person’s life, changing from one season to another, but also the internal struggle to either collect and contain one’s emotions or release them.

Manson was born in 1989 in New York, where she currently lives and works. She received her BFA in ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2011. Her work has been featured in numerous shows across the country, including Perhaps the Truth (October 2023–March 2024) at Ballroom Marfa.   

Organized by assistant curator Clare Milliken, the exhibition is accompanied by a publication.

Rebecca Manson
Barbecue, 2024
Porcelain, glaze, steel, adhesives and glass
Dimensions variable

© Rebecca Manson. Courtesy of the Artist.