Sep 20 to Nov 3, 2019:
Northern Clay Center, Main Gallery
2424 Franklin Avenue East, Minneapolis, MN, 55406  |  612.339.8007  | 

Opening reception: Friday, October 11, 6 – 8 pm

Mario Praz, an Italian-born critic, used a Latin phrase, horror vacui, to confront the Victorian fetish of visual clutter. Since that time, more than 100 years have passed with Minimalism as sentry, guarding the margins of good taste in design. High culture has been mostly synonymous with restraint. However, the rabble has been known to bubble up from time to time: consider the Ashcan school of painting, the Maximalism movement of the ’70s, the more recent visual cacophonies of Sarah Sze, and the 2015 curatorial concept, coined by Kaloust Guedel, Excessivism.

As a species, we seem to always bounce between the margins of excess and restraint in pursuit of balance. The same movement is present in our politics and our psychology. These margins of extremes are seemingly always reflected in our art, regardless of which side of the abyss we find ourselves. Horror Vacui: Across the Margins, curated by Jill Foote-Hutton, is a celebration of visual excess, as much as it is also an examination of it and a reflection of our world.

Every artist in the exhibition embraces visual texture, high contrast, and chromatic saturation to express layers of content. Any sampling of their surface work rewards the viewer with a tome of formal or narrative dialogue. The physical space will be divided into two spaces that will work in concert. An internal chamber, quiet with negative space, will provide mental and physical room for reflection. This “room” will be bounded by a narrow and visually dense external hallway, with walls bearing patterns designed by each maker. The works are paired with the intention of forcing a deliciously crowded conversation.

Horror Vacui: Across the Margins is a collaboration between the artists, the curator, and NCC’s exhibitions team. Each maker was invited to explore a category they were already subject to and encouraged to go further. They have also put their trust in having their work on display in a way that will potentially alter the intended perception, if only slightly. After all, every visual cue we take in is informed by the ground on which it stands.

The dense presentation of artists includes, from South Africa, Ardmore Ceramic Art (courtesy of Pascoe & Company in Miami, Florida), with additional objects by Patrick Coughlin, April D. Felipe, Benjie Heu, Lindsay Montgomery, Virgil Ortiz, Yana Payusova, Melanie Sherman, Molly Uravitch, and Valerie Zimany. The planned visual display is intended to exacerbate and inspire tensions in the exhibition space. At what distance does an intimate viewing become too close for comfort? When we are overwhelmed, what truths are revealed?

A special thanks to Eazywallz Inc. for making our pattern dreams accessible with their technology and support team. Additional thanks to Ed Pascoe and Tom Munro at Pascoe & Company for facilitating access to the incredible world of Ardmore Ceramic Art in South Africa.

Related Activities:
Yana Payusova, Lecture at The Museum of Russian Art (TMORA)
Wednesday, October 9, 6:30 pm
5500 Stevens Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55419
Fee: $5 (NCC members FREE)

Join us for the opportunity to consider Payusova’s work in the context of the canon of contemporary Russian art. This unique cultural learning experience is possible thanks to our friends at TMORA. To register for the event please contact TMORA at 612.821.9045, or visit their website

Curator’s Discussion with Yana Payusova, Virgil Ortiz, Valerie Zimany, Molly Uravitch and Melanie Sherman
X15: Thursday, October 10, 6 pm, NCC Library

Curator Jill Foote-Hutton will introduce her inspiration and the artists presented in Horror Vacui. We will then dive more deeply into the background of Visiting Artists Yana Payusova, Virgil Ortiz, Valerie Zimany, Molly Uravitch, and Melanie Sherman with an artist’s lecture. To wrap up the evening, the artists and Foote-Hutton will chat with the audience about topics related to the exhibition as it sits in our contemporary context.

This event is free and open to the public, but space is limited, so pre-registration is required. Register here.

Yana Payusova, Artist Demonstration
X16: Saturday, October 12, 9 am – 1 pm, Studio C, NCC Fee: $30 (Remote Log-in: $20)
Register Here

Payusova will share her techniques and the tools of her trade in this half-day demonstration workshop. She creates hybrid works, combining images of folk art, Russian icons, graphic poster art, and more. Learn more about how her classical training and heritage inform her surface illustrations, which work in concert with dynamic form.

We will be registering groups and individuals to participate remotely in this dialogue via the ZOOM meeting platform. If you would like attend the lecture virtually, contact for more details.