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Playing with Fire

Ceramics of the Extraordinary

Look Closer

Playing with Fire

Ceramics of the Extraordinary

Look Closer

Playing with Fire

Ceramics of the Extraordinary


November 22, 2019 – March 29, 2020

In light of the evolving COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, MOA is temporarily closed to the public, until Tuesday, April 7. Unfortunately, Playing with Fire will also end early due to the closure, and its run cannot be extended.

Experience the exhibition online in various ways—we will be sharing the exhibition on MOA’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram over the coming weeks. You can also read online the exhibition’s comprehensive Museum Note.

In this stunning group exhibition 11 BC-based artists have created a series of installations of extraordinary ceramic works that express opinions and offer commentary on the state of the world around us.


The exhibition showcases the work of Judy Chartrand, Ying-Yueh Chuang, Gathie Falk, Jeremy Hatch, Ian Johnston, David Lambert, Glenn Lewis, Alywn O’Brien, Bill Rennie, Debra Sloan and Brendan Tang. Internationally recognized, each of these local artists is acclaimed for their fearless work in the form of ceramic sculpture. They are elite talents working in clay, the most accessible of mediums, pushing it to new limits and examining the complexities of our culture to inspire fresh perspectives and considerations.

The collection of works as a whole is spectacular, tempting viewers to approach closer, only to discover that nothing is quite as it appears. Individually, the ceramic pieces may appear to be nostalgic, humorous, fragile, beautiful or unassuming, but closer inspection reveals provocative commentary on issues like social injustice, racism, identity and censorship. There are many layers of technical prowess and symbolic power to uncover in these sculptures, superbly demonstrating clay’s infinite artistic possibilities.

In Playing with Fire, the artists defiantly and boldly challenge the notion that all things made of clay are required to be functional; in their works, clay is released from this constraint and elevated into extraordinary works of art.

Curator: Carol E. Mayer.


Supported by




Image credits (L–R): 1) Jeremy Hatch, Tree House, 2006. Collection of the artist. Photo by Alina Ilyasova. 2) Ying-Yueh Chuang, Cross Series #3, 2008. Collection of the artist. 3) Alywn O’Brien, A Matter of Shadows, 2017. Collection of James Harris Gallery. 4) Ian Johnston, Antechamber (detail), 2010-2012. Collection of the artist. 5) Judy Chartrand, Counteract (detail), 2006. Collection of Rennie Collection. 6) Gathie Falk, Single Right Men’s Shoes: Bootcase with 9 Black Boots, 1973. Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery. 7) Brendan Tang, Manga Ormolu ver.4.0-h, 2009. MOA Collection. 8) Debra Sloan, Border Line, 2018. Collection of the artist. Photo by Alina Ilyasova. 9) Glenn Lewis, Artifact, 1969. Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery.