Lauren Vanni: Outside In

October 8, 2018–February 12, 2019
Harrison Gallery


For this year’s iteration of the Alumni Spotlight Series, Arcadia Exhibitions is pleased to present, “Lauren Vanni: Outside In”, on display through February 12, 2019 in the Harrison Gallery, located on the first floor of the University Commons.

Installation view, photo: Sam Fritch

The exhibition features fourteen works, each comprised of a discrete set of thrown or hand-built porcelain, stoneware, or colored clay objects. Within each set, drawn from points throughout Vanni’s 13-year artistic career, the pieces can range from items recognizable as bottles, bowls, and cups to those which imitate natural shapes, such as rocks, shells, clouds, eggs, and nests. Vanni’s knowledge of traditional ceramic techniques is extensive, and she brings to bear an array of skills and methods to create objects which at first seem disparate in terms of subject matter and intention. However, her thoughtful combinations reveal unexpected intersections between the domestic cheerfulness of functional pottery and the rugged indifference of the out of doors. In merging these interior and exterior worlds, Vanni prioritizes a conversation about vulnerability, protection, and unity.

Works included in the show such as Bottles (2005) and Collection (2009) – groupings of four 12” tall vessels and thirty-three 3” cups respectively, each set presented on custom shelves –  focus on forms found in traditional thrown pottery. However, Vanni’s pinching and squeezing of the pieces prior to firing serves simultaneously to hinder their usefulness and evoke shapes similar to those found on a sheer rock wall.

Installation view, photo: Sam Fritch

Tide Pools (2005) – a set of 9 blue porcelain bowls of various sizes submerged in, or surrounded by, dark, craggy rock craters fashioned from stoneware clay and displayed at table height –  exemplifies the collections within the show in which Vanni allows references to the domestic form and the exterior landscape to interact directly. The result in this instance is that the craters, in large part due to their relative scale to the audience, become a set of bowls holding another set of bowls. At the same time this has the effect of transforming the porcelain bowls into bodies of water – so that they are at once vessels and that which the vessel contains. The tableau presented is both landscape and table setting. These moments of simultaneous identity, generated by the internal context and logic within each collection, play out over and over throughout the exhibition.


Vanni is the first to admit that her fascination with, and reverence for landscape and the natural environment comes from the influence of her first undergraduate instructor, the noted Philadelphia ceramicist and Beaver College professor emerita Paula Winokur (1935-2018). Though there are similarities in the two artists’ visual vocabularies, Vanni is channeling the drama and contrast of Winokur’s practice to navigate her own path.

Currently based in Elkton, Maryland, Lauren Vanni earned her B.F.A. in Ceramics and her Master of Education in Art Education from Arcadia in 2005 and 2006 respectively. In 2008 she earned an M.F.A. in Ceramics from the University of Delaware. Vanni’s work has been exhibited throughout the Mid-Atlantic region including venues such as the Oxford Arts Alliance, Oxford, Pennsylvania; the Biggs Museum, Dover, Delaware; The Milburn Stone Theatre Gallery, North East, Maryland; Marlboro Gallery, Largo, Maryland; Chester County Art Association Gallery, West Chester, Pennsylvania; Louisville Stoneware, Louisville, Kentucky; Brooklyn Artist Gym, Brooklyn, New York; and the Louisiana State University School of Art Gallery, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Currently she serves as a Professor of Art and Fine Arts Coordinator at Cecil College in North East, Maryland.

Installation view, From the Inside Out (2008), photo: Sam Fritch

This is the 7th iteration of the Alumni Spotlight Exhibition. Previous artists presented in this series include Krista Profitt’11 (2017), Jesse Vincent ’11 (2016), Jennifer Titone ’11 (2015), Jannalyn Bailey ’09 (2014), Christopher Thomas ’94 (2013), and Andrew Ortwein ’07 (2012).

The exhibition is curated by Matthew Borgen and was made possible by a donation from Theresa and John Rollins. For more information about the exhibition, please contact the Arcadia Exhibitions at (215) ­517-­2629 or

Link to the artist's site.

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