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Mazmanian Gallery showcases student ceramic work


By Scott Calzolaio

The Mazmanian Art Gallery’s October show is now up and displaying work from the University’s department of studio art.

This month’s exhibit features student ceramic work from both Ceramics and Wheelworking classes. The pieces on display from Ceramics are abstract pod sculptures, and are displayed mostly toward the front of the gallery. The pieces on display from Wheelworking convey the theme of metamorphosis and progress through sets of coffee mugs, bowls and other sculptures.

For the pod sculpture assignment, students were asked to take influences from different botanical forms, specifically seed pods, said Keri Straka, art professor and ceramic artist.

“They are bringing in all of this visual information and synthesizing it,” she said. “The output of that is this sculptural form that might have moments where things are recognizable or familiar but generally it’s to kind of give the viewer a sense of disorientation.”

The sets on display from Wheelworking are meant to show some sort of change from piece to piece.

“For example, take the idea of a cup and change or eliminate the function from it,” said Straka. “Or just let the viewer decide from looking at it if there is some sort of story.”

Allison Jané, a graduate student, has her work on display from both of these classes. Her bright purple pod sculpture is the first thing that anyone sees upon entering the gallery. This is not only because of its position in front of the door, but also because of how the color stands out against the whiteness of the pedestal it is on.

Milkweed, paper bag bush and painted trumpet vine were in mind when creating the repeating, yet individually unique shapes on the sculpture, said Jané.

“I like repetitive things. Even in my drawings I like small, repetitive patterns. I mean, I hate it after a certain amount of time, but it’s something I’m always inclined to do.”

Jané’s Wheelworking piece on display is a set of cups. Each cup shows a wave of bumps as it moves upward into spikes, a design she says has been compared to the aesthetic of a Venus flytrap.

“The concept is that these little entities are crawling up,” she said. “It sort of becomes more sinister as they become more conical and spikey.”

Also exhibited in the gallery this month are graduate student Erin Feeney’s set of tea bowls called “Sand Band.” The tea bowls contain actual Cape Cod beach sand in an indented ring around each cup. To play off the beach theme, each piece in the set is painted with the colors of the shoreline.

“I wanted to create some sort of meaning for this set. My family has a house on the Cape and I took some sand from there.”

The set was crafted to keep with the Japanese Wabi-sabi style, an art form and worldview that focuses

on the beauty of life’s imperfections, a style Feeney finds difficult.

One set of cups on display that are all completely usable is senior Danielle Rieder’s coffee mugs. The set of four starts with a regular sized mug, and increases from there to the size of a cappuccino cup. Inside of each mug, on the bottom, Rieder etched expressive and intricate faces using the ceramics method sgraffito – the Italian word for scratch.

As the mugs get bigger, the faces get more and more awake and excited. The first two mugs in the set are painted black, and the faces look dreary. The third mug is a dark blue, and the last mug is a light blue, and the faces are seemingly laughing at the viewer.

The mural that takes up the entirety of the back wall actually starts on the wall to the left, and seems to follow the journey of a ceramic plate as it bounces around the massive heart made of handprints in the center of the room.

“One of my greatest influences is definitely love,” said Griselda Duran, senior and creator of the piece. “It’s all about creating love. I feel like today, no one knows how to love, and that we have to remind ourselves to love.”

The piece is done directly on the wall in a graffiti style, a form she says she is very familiar with, but a 3D element is added to her piece in the form of ceramic plates hung around the mural.

Playing with the graffiti and attempting to incorporate the culture surrounding the art form, Duran decided to claim a definite “fin” to her piece as the word is written on a piece of paper on a pile of garbage can lids, empty spray paint cans and pieces of a broken plate.

It is inevitable that Duran’s mural will be painted over, but the temporary nature of the piece is what makes it beautiful to her.

“It becomes a moment that me and whatever person saw it shared together,” she said.


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