Read J. Laurence Downing's artist's statement and it's difficult to tell whether he's putting you on. His ceramic art works ("Theologic Entreaty" is pictured above) feature crows and ravens in various forms because, he says, these birds are an illustration of God's ironic side. "Both ravens and crows have been described as opportunistic and intelligent," Downing says. "Their caw is not a typical bird call but more like the cry of a prophet in the wilderness. I see them as God's reminder of the unexpected ways he shows himself to me. I was amazed to read that the prophet Elijah was fed bread and meat by ravens both morning and night. What a man of faith! He believed these scavengers were sent from God and lived to tell about God's provision." Downing, who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a BFA in sculpture and teaches at the Durham School of the Arts, says his work contains many humorous and ironic metaphors like the raven. See it at Somerhill Gallery in Chapel Hill through Oct. 19. Call 968-8868 for details.