by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Life becomes something like an ant farm in Arnie Zimmerman P'14’s world—we are invited to watch, with gape-mouthed fascination, as his tiny, ceramic human figures work, brawl and otherwise respond to a series of unremarkable scenarios and challenges. It’s an anthropology lesson in miniature, a chronicle of his impressions as a New York artist who has traveled the world, sometimes with his wife, Anna, and their daughter, Isabel Rosenthal Zimmerman '14.
Naturally, Isabel—everyone calls her “Izzy”—soaked up her own impressions of art, world cultures and the human condition. Now, as an aspiring photojournalist and senior English major at Dickinson, Izzy channels those interests she shares with her father, though in her own way.
Both father and daughter present their unique views of the world in a joint exhibition at the Goodyear Gallery that continues through May 2. Titled World Stories, the show features sculptures by Arnie that draw inspiration from his travels and photographs Izzy snapped last year while studying abroad in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
“It’s exciting for me, but it also feels really natural to do this together, because I’ve been watching my dad make [art] my entire life,” said Izzy, who took an independent-study photography course at Dickinson during the fall of her junior year. “My dad taught me to make my first pinch pot at a very young age—I practically grew up in a studio.”
Considered one of the most significant ceramicists today, Arnie made a name in the art world with towering, carved vessels, but he switched gears in the 1990s, creating small, salt-fired porcelain human figures that he modeled, rather than carved. He was awarded a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award in 2005, and his work is found in collections at the National Museum of American Art, Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park (Japan), Museum of Art and Design (New York), Brooklyn Museum, Contemporary Art Center (Honolulu), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Runnymede Sculpture Farm (California) and Nacional Museu do Azulejo (Portugal).
While visiting Dickinson to present the joint exhibition with Izzy, Arnie presented a ceramics workshop for studio-art majors and offered critiques of student portfolios. He also joined Izzy at the opening reception for World Stories, where both artists answered questions about their work.
Asked if she saw common themes and perspectives in the exhibition, Izzy didn’t hesitate. “It makes sense that our work speaks to one another, in part because we’ve shared some of the same experiences, but also because my dad is a big influence in my life—he’s supported me in every creative endeavor I wanted to take,” she said.
“Of course, she goes her own way—she always has,” Arnie said with a smile. “And that’s a very good thing.”
The Goodyear Gallery is located at 595 W. Louther St. Carlisle (access off Cedar St., behind building). Gallery hours: Tues.-Fri., 3-5 p.m. & Sat. 2-5 p.m. For more information, please call 717-245-1053.
Published April 11, 2014