This installation juxtaposes early 19th-century Staffordshire ceramic transferwares drawn from the shelves of the RISD Museum storage with new Cumbrian Blue(s) artworks. Replacing the porcelain works typically on view in the Lucy Truman Aldrich gallery, New American Scenery melds historic printed tablewares, altered antique ceramics, and reclaimed Syracuse China plates with new screenprints to update early transferware subjects for the 21st century.
In the early 1900s, Staffordshire wares with images of American landscapes became hugely desirable objects, and for the first time, mass-produced industrial tablewares were elevated within museum hierarchies to rival the finest Meissen, Sevres, and Chinese porcelain. The high status of these works did not persist, however, and the period following World War II saw most relegated to museum storage, where they have gathered dust ever since. New American Scenery draws attention to the beauty, significance, and influence of original transferware material while examining the post-industrial landscapes of 21st-century America. Themes include industrial dereliction, borders, the physical manifestations of climate change, energy generation and consumption, and the ongoing legacies of invasion, slavery, and racism.
Paul Scott is an English artist who lives and works in Cumbria, UK. He appropriates traditional blue and white transferwares to make artwork for 21st-century audiences. Using selective erasure, new prints, collage, breakage, and re-assemblage, he alters historic tablewares to depict the contemporary landscape. At the same time he also commemorates and celebrates a rich, complex historical genre that is inextricably linked to wider visual and political cultures. New American Scenery is made possible by a lead grant from the Alturas Foundation with additional support from Ferrin Contemporary and Arts Council England.