Three Jerome Artists
Three Jerome Artists features the work of the 2018 Jerome Ceramic Artist Project Grant recipients: Heather Barr, Alex Chinn, and Mitch Iburg. Each artist has worked since April of 2018 in pursuit of a unique project, the results of which will be featured in the exhibition.
Heather Barr loves absorbing histories and translating them into contemporary forms. She has been investigating terra sigillata, a surface she finds “enticingly tactile,” but she had reached a plateau. The Jerome Ceramic Artist Project Grant has helped her reach the next level through the acquisition of a ball mill. She says, “The ball mill allows for experimentation in materials … leading to richer surface opportunities and a greatly increased color palette.” She has conducted multiple tests and firings over the course of her grant year, experimenting with different terra sigillata recipes. She has also been working on a number of new functional forms, including lidded vessels for food storage. Such intensive research is typical of her process and drive to experiment with traditional handbuilding techniques, while investigating the production wares of different cultures.
Alex Chinn wanted to push scale in a way that would influence human interaction with his forms, to evaluate materials for exterior durability, and to develop a body of work inspired by the landscape and architecture of his birthplace — rural Massachusetts — with its tobacco barns. Chinn notes, “Our sense of place is tied up in the proportions of the height, width, and shape of the structures. The placement and size of openings (windows and doors), or the lack thereof, can change the form on an emotional level for us. The same basic shape can be a fortress, a prison, a princess tower, or a burned out shell. Our life experiences influence how we see and respond to the shapes we see.” He has been studying photos of tobacco barns from his last visit back east. What is underscoring these explorations of form? The golden ratio and the Fibonacci sequence. He has investigated scale from one to 89 inches, arriving at a mean he finds most desirable for exhibition.
Mitch Iburg wanted to examine Minnesota’s mineral resources. He has produced a new and exciting body of work that reexamines the role of natural materials in the field of ceramic art, particularly within the genre of ‘place-based’ making. He has been wanting to pursue this work for quite some time, and he acknowledges that the project could not have been initiated without assistance from the Jerome Ceramic Artist Project Grant. By abandoning the requirements of vessels and traditional making techniques, he anticipates that his new sculptural work may help reshape his perspective and place a greater emphasis on non-traditional materials — stones, sands, aggregates, and sediments. His intention for the project has been to focus on several unique geological resources and settings that occur throughout the state of Minnesota. He has stated of his practice, “Collectively, I view each body of work as a specific resolution to the tensions between artistic intent and the intrinsic properties of wild, harvested materials.”