Abstract sculptural ceramic art pieces in the 6th Central Time Ceramics exhibit

Photos and reporting by Robert Kokenyesi, Ceramic Artist, Beachfront Pottery, Godfrey, IL, 62035, USA.  If you enjoyed this post, then give me a “like” on my Facebook page.      There is additional information about Beachfront Pottery on my web site.

The Venue

Traditionally, the Central Time Ceramics exhibit has been split between the Heuser Art Gallery, and the Hartmann Center Gallery. These two buildings are on the campus of Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.




On top is the Hartmann Center with a nice gallery space immediately right to the entry doors.


Below is the Heuser Art Gallery, through those doors and then left.







The Call for Entry

Submissions were open to all ceramic artists over the age of 18 who currently reside in the Central Time Zone.  Central Time Zone states include: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin;  however not all counties within these states are within the Central Time Zone.  Artists who reside in areas of Canada and Mexico that are within the Central Time Zone are also eligible.  Artwork submitted must have been completed within the last three years.

The Ceramic Art Pieces

This blog is part 2 of 5. Abstract sculptural pieces are included here.  Following blogs will cover lidded vessels, unlidded vessels, and bowls/mugs.  Part 1 of this series (covering figurative sculptural pieces) has already been published.

“One Possible Theory” by John Utgaard, Murray, KY
“Floating Yellow Dome” by John Utgaard, Murray, KY


The three Utgaard pieces are about 18 inches on length, and share a thick slab of various shapes.  John states on his website that: “I think of the things I make as geological, biological and psychological relics, as if my mind were a site of excavation. Wet clay records the work of our hands and reflects the softness of our bodies as well as the plasticity of our thoughts. When we fire it, it becomes like a fossil—hard, dead and stony, but with the evidence of a time when it was soft and alive in someone’s hands.”   What I’m gathering from that statement is that the broken edges represent the relic motive, and the smooth parts of the sculptures represent the utilitarian part, the one that was used for something when the clay was soft.





“The Place You Go” by John Utgaard, Murray, KY










“I Like it When Somebody Gets Excited About Something. It’s Nice” by Thomas Stollar, FL

This piece is longer than a foot, and part of Thomas’ “Shapes” project.  His statement on his web site reads: “I am interested in the idea that these objects, in their apparent simplicity attempt to provide the viewer a platform of presence rather than that of transcendence.      Further, the objects are very much a reaction to place, where I as a filter observe an environmental setting that is saturated with an air of ‘perfection’. In this setting all things (body, environment, cars, buildings) are overly manicured in an attempt to reach an ethereal plane of cultural plastic.”


“Untitled no 4” by Joseph Madrigal, Decorah, IA

Joseph states on his web site that “my creative work focuses on material explorations broadly centered on clay and specifically around porcelain.” He also says that “Porcelain, plaster, plywood, plastics, insulation foam, and yarn often mingle in forms that move beyond the aggregate of materials. These new forms originate from their material histories and depart into the imaginative space of the viewer.”  In the light of that statement it makes sense not to guide the viewers’ imagination by a title, but leave the piece untitled.  This piece is

8 X 16 X 9 inches in size.

“Sowing Seeds of Discontent” by Ovidio Giberga, San Antonio, TX
“The Places Where My Mind Goes” by Ovidio Giberga, San Antonio, TX

Ovidio states on his website that “I became increasingly engaged with the history and tradition of ceramics.  I use symbolism and metaphor to convey ideas of duality and/or struggle expressed formally through the relationships between inside and out, surface and form, organic and geometric. The result can be seen as decorative or disfiguring, beautiful or grotesque.

These two pieces engaged me because of the simple light terracotta color with black pattern reminded me of the ancient Maya pottery I’ve seen on museum exhibits.  When I looked at these pieces I developed an expectation that these pieces had something to do with ancient Maya rituals or other spiritual activity.






“Formal Study” by Nolan Baumgartner, Chicago, IL


Nolan states on his web site: “I have more recently preferred to use and alter ready-made-type objects for their inherent loaded meanings. While my area of expertise is ceramics, I choose to have a very loose visual aesthetic and no particular medium of preference”.

I’m not certain, bit the part with large holes in it might be a non-ceramic part of this composition.  The ceramic parts are the large backing and the bluish vessel forms sitting on the platform.

This piece lives up to Nolan’s intent: “in my mind, my sculpture confronts the gallery/museum space, as well as other odd human phenomena.”


“Meandering Tale of Moo” by Michael Ware, Milwaukee, WI

The art work interested me a lot, because it uses pieces of ceramics, and fuse them into a single piece by using the glaze as the glue.  “My current work focuses on the on the geologic transformations that shape the landscape, these tremendous forces are full of movement, energy and life. What if that spirit was morphed with geologic formations and ceramic objects? The resulting uncanny amalgamations would represent the merging of nature and culture.  Rather than an actual depiction of the natural world, the sculptures suggest the essence of the natural world. The sculptures appear to be evolving, moving, growing and impermanent, just like the landscapes from which they emerged.”  Instead of going to Michael’s web site, check out this interview for more details.  The title of this piece doesn’t fit well with the statement, so Michael might be looking to chart a new path with this piece.


“Land Acquisition” by Ian Shelly, Macomb, IL

Ian states on his web site that viewers who view his work “embark on a journey exploring the bonds of attachment, the boundaries of permanence, the strength and complexity of connections, and of course, the charting of a legacy seen in and between my work’s objects and symbols.  In this and all my work, I take liberty in blurring the lines between real and imagined, moving and stationary, new and old. As always, I find pleasure in skewing the way objects relate to one another and in upsetting the balance between what remains and what is cursory.”

It was hard for me to gauge the value of this piece, because ceramics make up a small part of this piece; lots of polyurethane foam, and found objects.



“Just” by Stephanie Lanter, Emporia, KS
“Fine” by Stephanie Lanter, Emporia, KS
“Unliked” by Stephanie Lanter, Emporia, KS





These three pieces by Stephanie are constructed from strings of porcelain clay.  Stephanie states on her web site: “Line by clay, thread, or wire line, these three dimensional poems investigate the evolving, layered complexities and ambiguities of communication. By transforming virtual concepts into visceral objects, I explore what’s real. Slip-trailing, forming, and binding the clay by hand confounds the immediacy I have become accustomed to. Chosen words and phrases begin as deeply personal signifiers, but are intended to expand and shift out beyond any singular interpretation.”

What I liked about these pieces (about 10 inches in length) is the crisp detailed layers provided by the porcelain strings, and that the individual strings have a unique  stained appearance.







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