Homer Deus | LUX Center for the Arts | Art Gallery, Classes, Summer Camps & Outreach
 

Homer Deus

Homer Deus

Artist(s)
Ceramics Center Manager
Reception
12/02/2022 - 5:00pm
December 2nd, 2022 to January 28th, 2023
Exhibition Description

Originally from Colorado, Neil Celani lives and works in Lincoln, NE. He is currently the Ceramics Studio Manager at the LUX Center for the Arts and has just finished the design and build of the LUX’s first gas kiln—the only one accessible for public use in Nebraska. Celani received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art (Ceramics) from the University of Northern Colorado in 2007 and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Ceramics from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln in 2020. He has attended residencies at the LUX Center for the Arts in 2020-21, the Cotto Design Studio in Lima, Peru in 2019, and the Clay Center of Northern Colorado where he also held the position of Studio Manager from 2010-2017.

Artist Statement

The Simpsons are a modern zeitgeist that hold a unique significance in western culture, and “the pot” is a universally understandable cultural object of utility but also used as a medium to express conceptual ideas, elevate shared rituals, and solidify spiritual beliefs. I embrace the absurdity of the Simpsons as deities, Simpsonic gods if you will, but believe they are an apt symbol of the American dream worthy of my worship. With a burp and a smile they hold up a mirror for us to see our best and worst tendencies, sometimes even forecasting the future.

Humanity’s ancient ceramic past is a particular source of inspiration for this work. I am drawn to the peculiar similarities found in symbols, patterns and motifs used decoratively by the ancients to express their culture’s belief systems. Pots served as record keepers to ancient civilizations and when looking at pots I cannot help but identify threads that connect us to our ancestors.

The zig-zag is an archetypal symbol used ubiquitously as decoration to translate ideas and totems of significance (snakes, rivers, mountains). My use of the zig-zag stems from the bold shapes and outlines from my Simpsonic gods, re: Homer Deus. I use sampled elements from characters as formal elements in my effigy pots -  Bart’s zig-zag hairline on the rim of a bowl or Homer’s legs on a rattling cup.

Making pots enables me to untangle and make sense of a life which is utterly meaningless yet undeniably profound. Creative human expression is one of my primary fascinations in life and I view it as fundamental to the communication of deeper-than-words emotions and shared experiences of pure joy. Art, music, comedy, philosophy: these expressions of humanity are supremely valuable, integral to my being, and therefore worthy of my praise and worship.

Curator Statement

The LUX Center for the Arts is thrilled to announce the first solo exhibition by Neil Celani titled Homer Deus, on view in our East Gallery from December 2, 2022 through January 28, 2023.

Neil Celani’s ceramic practice is rooted in a deep appreciation for the fundamental and ancient human impulse to creatively express ourselves as an attempt to better comprehend the world and our place in it. Not unlike the handprints in the caves of Lascaux, he views the most humble and universally understood utilitarian tool, the simple pot, as the heart of that expression. The moto posted on his website: “Make Pots, Die Happy,” is a clear summation of his modus operandi. Celani has stated, “The pot is a universally understandable cultural object of utility but is also used as a medium to express conceptual ideas, elevate shared rituals, and solidify spiritual beliefs.”

Functional vessels, including pots, vases, cups, and dishes, with representational figurative drawings and geometric symbols that tell tales of ancient civilizations, have been found all over the world throughout hundreds of cultures. There is a consistent nature to the patterning that expresses the universality of the human condition, regardless of region or culture. Celani has stated, “The zig-zag is an archetypal symbol used ubiquitously as decoration to translate ideas and totems of significance (snakes, rivers, mountains).” The works in Homer Deus possess their own use of the zig-zag pattern but in this case, their use is not abstracted representation but a direct reference to a pop-cultural phenomenon.

The title of the exhibition, Homer Deus, refers to Homer, the hapless blue-collar patriarch in the satirical cartoon, The Simpsons, and Deus, the Latin work for God. The Simpsons is an animated series depicting American life from the perspective of a middleclass, midwestern family of five that aired for thirty-three years, from December 17, 1989 until it’s final episode this year on May 22, 2022. In Celani’s view it is “a modern zeitgeist that holds a unique significance in western culture”. The works in Homer Deus are fun and whimsical, if also satirical, with obvious reverence given to the iconic cartoon characters who Celani refers to as “Simpsonic gods.” Among others, they include a reclining miniature figurine of Homer with a functional mug for a belly that jingles when you shake it, a signature element in some of Celani’s works making it impossible not to smile while you hold them. Babies are given rattles for a reason. Celani has a way of tapping into not only our collective consciousness by harkening the iconic zig-zag patterning of Bart and Lisa Simpson’s hair in the form of effigy pots and three-cartoon legged candy dishes, but in our most base human instinct to derive total delight from a simple noisemaker.

As Celani has said, “I embrace the absurdity of the Simpsons as deities, but believe they are an apt symbol of the American dream worthy of my worship. With a burp and a smile, they hold up a mirror for us to see our best and worst tendencies, sometimes even forecasting the future.” What the future holds for these works is unknown, but one can imagine them being excavated in 2800 years, along with over thirty years-worth of indestructible plastic cartoon memorabilia, only to be displayed and referred to as Simpsons Deus. There would be less apt representations of this civilization’s system of beliefs.  

Medium
Ceramics
 
 

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