Six McKnight Artists
New work by 2009 recipients of McKnight Fellowships for Ceramic Artists awarded by Northern Clay Center—Ursula Hargens (Minneapolis) and Maren Kloppmann (Minneapolis) was on exhibition in Gallery A. Gallery M featured the work of four McKnight Resident Artists: 2008 residency recipients Ilena Finocchi (California), Elizabeth Smith (Arkansas), Yoko Sekino-Bové (Pennsylvania), and 2009 residency recipient Cary Esser (Missouri).
Ursula Hargens In addition to planning the construction of a studio adjacent to her home, Hargens also began work on a series of wall tiles. The modular tile molds—some square, others with scalloped edges— are combined to form larger works of varied sizes and shapes. This new focus provided an opportunity for innovation since the expanded surface requires new decorating solutions.
Maren Kloppmann’s series used formations of pillow shapes and wall panels in porcelain to create wall installations that "reference forms which are archetypal and architectural in quality." Defining architectural and sculptural principles, her objective was "to make conceptual space tangible through a confluence of imperative visual elements." This new work was modular in nature, with each element constructed by hand, revealing subtle imperfections that Kloppmann said, "energize a visual language of austerity."
Ilena Finocchi describes her work with clay as “the connection to my childhood and means of communicating in a way I cannot do with words.” Through her use of metaphorical symbols, she explores stories from her childhood and the ways in which adulthood now interacts with those memories. Finocchi often employs bird imagery to represent herself in her narratives. Additionally, she references nature, life, and death, as well as specific memories of her father and his personal collections. Typically, Finocchi uses earthenware clay, often smoke-fired, combined with other elements such as wood, rope, and lighting.
Elizabeth Smith cites her New England upbringing and memories of mandatory family dining as driving forces behind her pottery aesthetic and dedication to function. Additionally, she is interested in the Victorian era, specifically the “decorative excesses” of 18th and 19th century European porcelain. While in residence at NCC, Smith explored decoration as a way to map experience, breaking her exploration up into seasons, “the aesthetics of spring, summer, fall and winter.” Her interest stems from the strong connection between “the sensory impact of the seasons on one's body and the sensory impact of a well-made pot...” Smith chose to communicate this idea through the creation of complex wall forms constructed from multiple slip-cast elements, a great departure from the functional works she’s been known for.
Yoko Sekino-Bové’s artistic ambition “is to create something meaningful and delightful, to remind people that there are still many amazing moments in our lives and to celebrate those moments.” Her porcelain functional work employs the imagery of plants and animals to convey her emotions and curiosities. She likens this process to creating a wildflower bouquet, “a mixture of random choices and selective chaos, inspirations and the anticipation for something unexpected.” During her residency, Sekino-Bové developed an array of cone six glazes and explored their possibilities in electric oxidation firings. Ultimately, she hopes to publish her research and share her new palette of glazes in a ceramic periodical.
While in residence Cary Esser employed her newly developed mold system to create tile and relief forms in repeated units, to be decorated with monoprint images of winter tree limbs and architectural floor plans, specifically depicting 10th century Byzantine churches.
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