Magical Potters

Coming from a family of potters, artist Charles Long grew up surrounded by clay. His mother called it "magical" because with clay, there is an infinite amount of creations that can be crafted. Now, Long is sharing the wonders of "magical" clay with the public.

As an installation at the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA), Long's "100 Lbs. of Clay" tears down the barrier between artist and viewer, allowing the public to become collaborators with Long. Located inside the museum's lobby, these 100 one-pound, brightly colored clay blocks are mounted in a grid on the wall. As a visitor, you can create what you like with the clay—or even ruin another's clay creation to make your own, if you're into that sort of thing. When you're done with your masterpiece, the lobby houses 100 pedestals on which to place your finished product for display. See, it's not so hard to get your art in a museum. What was Van Gogh complaining about?

As an interactive art form, the installation challenges the taboo of not being able to touch an artist's work, in the process creating a connection between the displayed art, the artist and the viewer. Some may not initially understand the logic behind the installation, but Long is more than happy to explain. "Interactive art is important in inspiring young audiences who might find contemporary art institutions off-putting," he says. So for those of you who have always had difficulty keeping your grubby mitts off the Guernica, here's your chance to dive right in. But don't get too carried away—the rest of the art at the OCMA is just fine the way it is, thank you very much.

"100 Lbs. of Clay" at the Orange County Museum of Art, 850 San Clemente Dr., Newport Beach, (949)759-1122. Open Wed. & Fri.-Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thurs., 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Through Aug. 27. $10; seniors/students, $8; children under 12/OCMA members, free; free to the public every Thursday.


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