A maid born in Germany in 1973 is destined to spend the first 15 years of her life living east of the Berlin Wall. “Tear down this wall, Mr. Gorbachev,” a voice demands, and so it was the wall tumbled down in 1989. Gerit Grimm, the aforementioned “maid,” was producing pots and bowls for a German factory that left her yearning for more than pretty objects glazed like sugar-coated baked goods. Eventually, with additional and rigorous training, she found a good fit as an assistant professor of art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Grimm claims no kinship to the brothers Grimm, but it’s fair to say her unglazed stoneware figures, fashioned on a potter’s wheel, are amazing tales each and every one. Cunningly crafted part by part, then assembled with elegance and grace, the seven distinct groupings curated by Graeme Reid populate the Hyde Gallery in the white wedge Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA), crowning a hill in West Bend, Wis.
Woe to you who rush through this exhibition, for you will miss the exquisite tenderness, the joyful light-heartedness and the knock-your-socks-off seriousness of the grouping positioned at the east end of the gallery. The figures depict key scenes from the crucifixion, entombment and Christ lovingly cradled in Mary’s arms. So lovely, so alive, so in the moment is Grimm’s work that it is easy to forget that it begins as a lump of clay on a potter’s wheel. What gold she spins from a most humble material.
Grimm is brilliant, and so is MOWA for bringing her work to us.
The exhibition, “Gerit Grimm’s Fairytales: In A Time Neither Now Nor Then,” runs through Jan. 14, 2018 at the Museum for Wisconsin Art, 205 Veterans Ave., West Bend.