There's a reason for the question mark in the name of this show. The 17 artists in Clay? III are working with materials—like plastic, polystyrene, LED lights, wood—that definitely were not fired in a kiln. But that's the point: to get you thinking about the ancient form, pottery, and how it's lately evolved. Some creations, like Raymond W. Gonzalez's blinking, star-shaped dingbats, appear like satellites dropped from space. More elaborate, yet no less ingenious, is a low, porcelain train trestle set on wooden blocks by Rumi Koshino. Yet the most interesting work, up in the loft, is made of pixels and water—a video installation by Arun Sharma. His (de)Composition places an unglazed clay bust in what appears to be a bubbling fish tank, then lets the figure gradually decay. It's like a pathos-free drowning man, an exercise in artistic self-erasure. However much work Sharma put into the bust, the water insidiously undoes. How long this process takes is open to question. Hours? Days? Weeks? The gallery card doesn't indicate a run time for the video, so you're encouraged to cycle back among the other ceramics, returning periodically to see how much of the sculpture remains. Or you can just stare at it, like Warhol's Empire, an oddly calming experience not unlike the fish tank at your dentist's office. Eventually the crumbling figure will be reduced to a pile of sodden soil. Which, millennia ago, is precisely where pottery began. (Through May 4.)
Kirkland Arts Center, 620 Market St., Kirkland, 425-822-7161, kirklandartscenter.org. Free. Mon.–Fri. 11 a.m.–6 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.–5 p.m.