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Gallery - Taylor Books of Charleston, WV

WVU Graduate Ceramics Exhibition

A collaborative exhibition by Ray Brown, Stacy Larson, Heather Lepp, Shuhan Liu, Brian Morgenlander, Drew Scanlon, and Crystal Xiong

Stacy Larson

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I am inherently drawn towards nature, specifically the transient moments I notice: a glistening dewdrop on a leaf, a frost-encrusted branch, or the satin surface of a petal in sunlight. In my ceramic work I strive to capture the beauty and emotion I experience in nature’s presence by replicating my perception of these sensuous details. The combination of refined edges and variation in thickness allows for a more dynamic form to express the plant’s movement and energy. Juxtaposing multiple surface qualities and textures is integral in highlighting nature’s distinguishable features while also stimulating visual interest. These colorful pieces capture the viewer’s attention, inviting them to engage with and explore the nuances of my work.

Heather Lepp

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I am interested in the formation of culture, groups, and social structures. My inquiry into these structures and groupings is formulated through a scientific knowledge based on natural ecologies. All structures can be broken down into geometric shapes, and I use this technique to inform my decoration. Breaking up the form of the piece, I create divisions of space through square and rectilinear color blocks. Using a color palette based on neutral tones brings a sense of warmth and comfort, while decisive pops of color act as visual guides.

Shuhan Liu

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In Unspoken (2021), I present a self-portrait that uses sign language to express my motivations. Each hand is created from a mold of my left hand. I chose to use my left hand and not my dominant right hand to suggest a struggle in communication. These hands are true to life in scale and realistic in order to fulfill the goal of creating a self-portrait. The “Unspoken” captured the moment when I wanted to express my thought, but I couldn’t verbalize it: “Why did this happen to me?” “What did I do wrong!” This artwork is one of my more direct ways of expressing my emotions. It fully demonstrates the language I want to speak but struggle to communicate.

Brian Morgenlander

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Clay intrigues me by the journey of the material. I can take something from the earth, simply add water, and change it into an object I can use every day. Clay can be malleable and soft at one moment and in a matter of hours be delicate and brittle. By using my hands I can take the clay and create art inspired by the nature I have seen throughout the world with my travels. I recreate the nature I have see through forms and different glazing and firing techniques. Every decision in the process of making my artwork has to be calculated. They are my fingerprints, they are unique and they give someone a glance into my world of making.

With my work I share my narrative with others by recreating my memories in different ceramic vessels. Some of the forms are intuitive and spontaneous while others are technical and precise. In order to accomplish this successfully, I am exploring form. I produce different forms as a way to change the user’s experience with each piece. My forms guide the user with marks and indentations, allowing the individual to explore where their hands or fingers should be through their own touch. I enjoy putting thought and craftsmanship into every piece without having a predetermined conclusion. Overall, they provide me a valuable chance to examine what works ad what needs to be worked on. It motivates me to constantly investigate form and experiment.

Kristyn Rohrer

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My work is an exploration of identity and material knowledge within the ceramic medium. Although my body of work includes a wide variety of forms, every piece speaks to a multidisciplinary and multi-faceted observation of “the self.” Personhood is in part a manifestation of moments, memories, and interactions with others. Our hands and feet hold and perform our selfhood, exhibiting individual character and emotion through isolated gesture. Not only do I explicitly demonstrate emotive representations of the self through elements of human figure, I also utilize forms and textures found in nature that I personally identify with, such as seedpods, which exhibit a sense of resilience and an outward protection of a complex inner self. My studio practice involves a dedication to material chemistry within the ceramic arts and creating a space for those materials to exhibit self-expression through hand-sculpted clay. I often allow the colors I develop to contrive my forms, thinking of glaze as a primal catalyst rather than an aftereffect. It is the the boundlessness of my glaze research and my ever-changing self that continually inspires me to push the boundaries of my body of work and create sculptures reminiscent of self growth.

Drew Scanlon

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My art comments on my experience as a nonbinary person living with an AFAB (assigned female at birth) body. I explore gender as performance in my work by making a visualization of my relationship to femininity through the lens of gender-queerness. In order to demonstrate gender expectations through my work, I create fetish objects that strive to be beautiful while also embodying the feeling of pain. Using my own anatomy as a reference, I accept and take ownership over the hypersexualization of my body. I embrace the aesthetics of BDSM, kink, and eroticism to take back my power. I see my art as a means of processing trauma as well as positive sexual experiences all in one. My art creates a fantastical safe space for exploration and intimacy; a sex positive environment that values self pleasure. I am interested in exploring the category of kitsch through my art making process as well as question where the line between high and low art lies. My ultimate goal is to make the viewer contemplate their relationship to sex, sexuality, and gender by placing intimate pieces in the public eye.

Crystal Xiong

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I record my daily life by making a series of objects that exist around me and present them in clay. During this time, the pandemic has had a huge impact on my life, which made me start to think about what it means to be me. Looking back to art history, many artists before me have made art objects using their experience in previous pandemics and the resulting deaths as a theme in their work. My work is inspired by the Vanitas paintings, a genre of still-life painting that flourished in the Netherlands in the early 17th century. A Vanitas painting contains collections of objects that symbolize the inevitability of death, the transience of achievements, and the vanity of earthy pleasures. This genre exhorts the viewer to consider mortality and to repent.