Ceramic art pieces in the Displacement and Migration exhibit at the St Louis Artists’ Guild

Photos and text by Robert Kokenyesi, Ceramic Artist, Beachfront Pottery, Godfrey, IL 62035, USA.

The Venue

The all media exhibit took place in the gallery space of the St Louis Artists’ Guild in Clayton, MO between April 21 and May 20, 2017.  I feature here a few non-ceramic pieces (plaster and concrete), because of the unusual construction, or because of the conceptual interest.

The call for entry

A national juried exhibit that investigates the current or historic forced or voluntary relocation of individuals or groups of people who no longer inhabit their place of origin. Artists are encouraged to explore the complexities of this theme today and throughout history from a personal perspective.
Areas to be considered include slavery, apartheid, war, homelessness, and diaspora/relocation motivated by culture, politics, religion, finance, and climate.

The ceramic art pieces

“The Most Hopeless Ball” by Maryamsadat Amirvaghefi, Fayetteville, AR

This piece is made of concrete, not ceramics, but I include it in the blog, because of the similar looks to ceramics.  Maryam is an Iranian artist living in Arkansas. This is what she writes about this piece:  “It’s difficult for me to talk about being a winner or loser, as I’ve never experienced either completely. When an individual faces a situation where they feels here is no chance to succeed, it often result in e sense of pity. At that point, an individual has a decision: accept the situation and pity yourself: or to become a fighter that doesn’t look over your shoulder and push forward trying to prove the naysayers wrong.
I have put myself at the center of the work. By focusing on the autobiographical, I am able to evaluate different points of view that align with political issues, nationalities, and my personal life. My trip to Iran last summer that took three months effect on my work a lot. When I came back here, I saw myself as a person who feels uncertain about everything. According to the social and political issues I cannot belong myself to either of these two countries. In addition, when I look at myself I see a woman, who is from Middle East and leaving in a USA, which is complicated enough for making work about.
I have found myself asking the following question: if I were to win, does the game end and will I have incentive to continue?”

“The Great Divide We Devise, 2017” by Nathan Marshall, Richmond Heights, MO


These pieces by Nathan Marshall are also not made of ceramics, but they show concepts and construction that is important to explore.  These pieces are made of plaster and ropes made of fiber.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find any details about Nathan or the pieces online, so I can’t elaborate on the motivation behind these pieces.




“Common Ground, 2017” by Nathan Marshall, Richmond Heights, MO

This piece, just like the previous one, is a curious combination of solid material and fibers.  While the high temperature firing of ceramic pieces prevents the making of a piece where the fibers would end up inside the ceramic piece, the imagery of plaster plus fiber is inspiring me to experiment with combination of ceramics and fiber.






“Sapphire Pools, 2015, by Neil Kruell, Union, MO

This is a genuine ceramic piece.  Neil explained to me that he collected glass to form the blue pools.  It’s a rare sight when a ceramic artist uses glass on a ceramic piece.  Neil states on his web site that  “I endeavor to use these materials in an honest and direct manner to speak viscerally to the viewer. To exemplify the purity of these expressive substances and imaginatively transform each component is of great interest to me as an artist.”  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any details about this piece on line, and about what visceral conversation he intended to carry out with this piece.


“The Blue Rhino, 2016, by Debra Smith, Springfield, MO


I couldn’t find any information online about Debra. The piece is attractive, because of the combination of a geometrically designed part of the composition stands among creatures that were not designed so meticulously.





“How Does It Feel?, 2016”, by Maria Paz Gajardo, Oakland, CA


This hand built (maybe pinched?) ceramic cup carries a comment about immigration to the United States.  I could find only a pinterest page of Maria’s work, but there was no social commentary on those pieces. She is from Chile, currently working in San Francisco.  I found no info on her artist statement.







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