Community Interviews

Artist Spotlight: Brett Freund, McKnight Artist Fellow

Brett Freund’s work incorporates color, sketching, and repetition. He intuitively constructs from slip cast parts. The result is a single product that communicates preciousness, but is manipulated with a chaotic energy. Although he essentially uses prototypes and reproducible parts, he creates decorative objects with personal, interior spaces.

Freund is a 2018 recipient of the McKnight Artist Fellowship for Ceramic Artists and NCC is proud to be part of his professional and creative journey.

Artist Spotlight: Bryan Czibesz, McKnight Artist Resident

“I am at heart a tinkerer, and regularly working with my hands is at the core of how I engage with the world.”

Bryan Czibesz came to NCC’s McKnight Artist Residency for Ceramic Artists from the Hudson Valley, where he teaches at the State University of New York at New Paltz. Grounded in the tradition of object making, he asks questions of authorship and authenticity through varying degrees of engagement and dislocation between the hand and material manipulation. 

Artist Spotlight: Melissa Mencini

It really is the rare bird who can traipse back and forth between the world of sculpture and functional pottery with ease. Perhaps therein lies the misconception, “ease” plays no part in it. Rather a dedication to content and artisanship are the constant companion to a maker who keeps every tool sharpened and at the ready to explore and express and create as needed when needed. These are the makers we can rely upon as keepers of the craft. Melissa Menicini is such a maker.

It’s hot! It’s fast! It’s FLASHY!

It’s Raku, an ancient Japanese tradition modified over centuries and across borders to become something of a standard experience for entry level ceramic students. Raku has borne the critical rebuke familiar to other flashy finishes across various industries, think about ruffles, velvet, red lipstick, sequins, or glitter. However, in the right hands, Raku surfaces celebrate the alchemy of carbon and mineral, reflecting all the colors of nature.

Student Spotlight: Billie Jean Van Knight

Billie Jean Van Knight started taking classes at NCC this summer, but she really caught our attention as a stellar volunteer during the 2018 American Pottery Festival. She seemed to be everywhere and was happy to join in the work and the fun! After being away from clay for 18 years, a trip to the St. Croix Pottery Tour reignited her love for clay and our friends on the tour pointed her in our direction. Shout out to St. Croix!

Student Spotlight: Emiliano Cerna-Rios

Northern Clay Center community student Emiliano Cerna-Rios maintains a studio in Northeast Minneapolis and is an avid runner and cyclist. His first training in art was in painting. 

He began to experiment with three dimensional work in the winter of 2016, which led him to take his first class at NCC, “…just out of curiosity.” The handbuilding class he enrolled in grabbed his imagination and he has been working in clay ever since!

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