Sine qua non is a Latin phrase referring to something essential, like attending the new Center for Visual Arts (CVA) exhibit, “Sine Qua Non: The Ceramics of Domonique Venzant.”
The exhibit is in the Eide/Dalrymple Gallery in the CVA. As viewers enter the exhibit, they see a pitcher sitting next to a sculpture balancing two stylized clay pieces at the end of a metal rod. A row of cast faces lines the opposite wall, and deeper into the gallery a vast array of white and brown bowls varying in size are placed on the floor in a large arc.
The artist Domonique Venzant is a 2002 graduate of Augustana. Though he was initially a biology major, his career path changed after an elective ceramics class with Augustana professor Gerry Punt.
“It was mind-opening,” Venzant said. “I had no idea you could use this stuff to talk about all things—to engage people in dialogue. I thought ceramics was just about playing with dirt. I found it to be the most difficult class I’d ever taken.”
Many of Venzant’s sculptures are abstract, featuring gourd-like shapes arranged on shelves, or amorphous sculptures coated in glaze. Venzant also ventures into slightly different mediums, including complementary paintings of what appear to be chromosomes. There are even three of what seem to be soda machines hand-painted and filled with plaster cans.
A reception held Friday, Oct. 12 at the gallery drew several Augustana art professors, as well as curious students. The artist himself walked around chatting with visitors. A red and white holiday sweater and an exceptionally large knit cap distinguished the bearded sculptor from the crowd.
Sophomore Alexis Vana gazed at length at several pieces in the gallery. When asked what she thought about a piece called “Duck Duck Goose,” she quipped, “I think these mushrooms are playing Duck Duck Goose.”
“I don’t understand how he did all this, but I think that adds to the mystery,” Vana said.
The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Entrance to the exhibit is free. Venzant’s art will be on display through Nov. 10.