Ceramic art pieces in the “Clearly Human II” exhibit at the St Louis Artists’ Guild

Photos and text by Robert Kokenyesi, Beachfront Pottery, Godfrey, Illinois, USA

The “Clearly Human II” all-media art exhibit took place in the gallery of the St Louis Artists’ Guild from January 22 through February 27, 2016.  There were mesmerizing art works in the painting, sculpture, photography categories, but below I’ll concentrate on the ceramic art pieces.

The first ceramic piece grabbed my attention as soon as I entered the gallery, because it’s a large piece, and was located in the middle of the space.  The piece was titled “Broken Open” made by Katie Bensky.

"Broken Open" by Katie Bensky.
“Broken Open” by Katie Bensky.
Top, inside view of the piece.
Top, inside view of the piece.

The head of a female appeared in a yellowish-brown hue suggesting that there was no glaze applied (the tag only said it’s “ceramics”).  The color of the piece struck me as a very pleasant skin tone color, so the piece emphasized the natural beauty.  On the other hand the missing top of the head, and several fracture and chip lines added an eerie, sad feeling to the piece. Like looking at a death mask of someone youthful, friendly, and beautiful.  The top oft he head looks like was left open intentionally (ie: not breakage).  I wish there were narratives added to the pieces; this piece could symbolize many feelings and stories, and knowing the artist’s inspiration might expand every viewer’s horizon.  This is Katie’s Facebook business page (she is a portrait sculptor):  https://www.facebook.com/Katie-Bensky-597424263651054

The second ceramic piece in this exhibit was affixed to the wall. The piece was titled “Nest I” by Lisa Hilton.

Nest I by Lisa Hilton
“Nest I” by Lisa Hilton
A closer look at the nest.
A closer look at the nest.

The young female figure holds something in her hands.  A closer look shows a nest made of copper and steel.  I liked this piece for several reason.  I liked the combination of clay with non-clay materials; my personal belief is that the future of ceramic art lies in combining traditional ceramic structures with textile, metal, glass, natural found objects.  I also liked the positive spirituality of a lending a helping hand to something that will be the home to living things of the future.  See her other works here: http://lisahiltonart.com

The third ceramic art piece in this exhibit was affixed to a wooden post (looked like a 5 foot long 8×2 pine post).  The piece was titled “Torso” by John Schnellman.

"Torso" by John Schnellman.
“Torso” by John Schnellman.
Side view.
Side view.

The tag said this piece was barrel-fired, and the effect of soot from the burning wood barrel gave a very unique look because of a smooth change from dark brown to light brown hues.  You cans ee some other art by John at http://artbyschnellmann.com/.

The fourth ceramic art piece was yet another torso.  The piece was titled “Unearthed Torso” by Elizabeth Herman.

"Unearthed Torso" by Elizabeth Herman.
“Unearthed Torso” by Elizabeth Herman.
Side view.
Side view.

While the tag simply states that this piece was made of clay, it seems that the firing included wood or other organic material that produced the soot that colored the piece.  Another aspect of the piece is that several clay pieces were assembled into the torso (best seen from the side view picture). The method of assembly wasn’t disclosed, but the firing the individual pieces to a different hue, and then assembling the pieces into the torso gives the unique patchy surface look. Here, again, a posted narrative would have increased viewers’ engagement with the piece.

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