Ceramic art pieces from the 7th Biennial Central Time Ceramics exhibit. Part 4: Abstract sculptural pieces.

Photos and reporting by Robert Kokenyesi, Ceramic Artist, Beachfront Pottery, Godfrey, IL, 62035, USA.  If you enjoyed this post, then like the post, and also like my Facebook page.    Check out Beachfront Pottery posts on Instagram @beachfrontpottery.   There is additional information about Beachfront Pottery on my web site.

The Venue

The “7th Biennial Central Time Ceramic exhibit” took place from March 9 through April 17, 2020, in two galleries on the campus of Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. The exhibit closed early because of the COVID-19-related shelter in place orders by the State of Illinois.

This is the entrance to the Hartmann Center, the location of one of the galleries.




This is the gallery space inside the Hartmann Center.







This the gallery space inside the Heuser Art Center Gallery, the second gallery hosting this ceramic exhibit.






The Call for Entry

The call for entry read like this: “This exhibition is 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.”

The Ceramic Art Pieces

The COVID-19 related shelter in place order in the State of Illinois lead to the early closing of the Bradley University campus galleries.  I was fortunate to make it to the campus the day before the state orders, and look at this great collection of ceramic art pieces. I apologize to those artists whose artworks I might have not photographed during my hurried visit to Bradley University.

In Part 4 I report on abstract sculptural pieces. In Part 1 I reported on unlidded vessels and trays and platters . In Part 2 I reported on lidded vessels . In Part 3 I reported on figurative sculptural pieces.

“Vestige #8” by Michael Gesiakowski, Edwardsville, IL

His statement reads: “My work investigates the process of physical and cognitive degradation by using the construct of architecture to question our perceptions of memory and our concept of place. I draw inspiration from degraded and weatherworn buildings and their ornamentation: aged stone and terra cotta facades, stained glass, fractured adornments, and other architectural components that have been left to the elements. My aim is to capture the unperceived intricacy of this ongoing process of deterioration.  This work presents narratives of the impermanence of memory, by creating a connection with man-made structures I’m looking to reveal the correlations between architecture and our recollections, that being the slow erosion of both over long periods of time. The degraded forms and surfaces are metaphors for our individual memories and how these decay over the course of a lifetime, obscuring the line between veritable facts and the accuracy of our own recollections. The bright, enlivened surfaces offer a contradiction to this state of decline, as memories are altered and embellished through imprecise remembrance. Similarly, the two-dimensional imagery in the work is a flattened representation of the three-dimensional ornament found within architecture of the last century. This diminished dimensionality conveys the transformative aspects of our experiences from real world existence to the stored information in our minds. The engagement between the deteriorated forms and the obscured surfaces suggest a temporal and spatial connection to our own brief, chronicled existence.” To see more of his works visit his web site.


“McBlossom 3” by Michael Ware, Milwaukee, WI
“Chamberware 2” by Michael Ware, Milwaukee, WI

His statement from the Ploch Gallery page reads: “In the summer of 2012 while on a trip to New England, I had a sublime experience in the Adirondack Park in Upstate New York. I was overwhelmed by a powerful presence of beauty. Walking through the woods the earth felt alive. The terrain is relatively untouched and has an intangible energy flowing through it. The landscape had the power to draw me in with both its vastness and subtle features. I was presented with an infinite number of worlds within a larger one. My current work focuses on the transformations that occur in the natural world. Primarily concentrating 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. For more of his works visit his web site.


“Pink Cross” by Jill Birschbach, Evanston, IL

Her statement from the Evanstonmade site reads: “Ideas of home and the house form are loaded with meaning.
I began using this universal symbol to explore conflicted feelings about my working class upbringing. The house forms are imperfect and sometimes crude- using industrial textures and dripping glazes to amplify these ideas. My sculptures build on these ideas- and use large forms, dripping, foaming, crude textures to rebel against perfection and express complex emotions. For more of her ceramic works and photography visit her web site.



“Emblematic Marks” by Ronny Loyd, League City, TX


His statement reads: “Creativity will speak to you if you are willing to listen. Art making will show you paths to take if you are willing to take risks. Textural surfaces and its relationship to form and functionality has been my focus for the past several years. As I continue this creative path, I am constantly intrigued with new shapes and forms both organic and technology produced. I am willing to brush, sculpt, mark, incise or imprint into my artwork and follow it directions to a completed work of art. In my paintings, I am wanting to take the viewer into an unknown environment of transparent overlays of shapes created with layers of tonal values and colors. Marks create a staccato of short movements and lines continue the movements for longer durations. Textured shapes can create the balance that holds the viewer in my expressive abstract environments. In my ceramic artwork I am a bit all over the place. Ceramics in the 21st Century is really in a new renaissance age of exploration and usage of the medium. Ceramics is so versatile that any shape can be created, painted, imprinted, torn, extruded…the list goes on forever. I am currently producing traditional sculptured shapes of great coats of the previous 19th and 20th centuries. I am continuing to create contemporary kimonos (seen on my website RonLoydArt.com). Textured imprinting onto clay has endless possibilities of which I am currently producing clay boxes with textured porcelain objects inside them. I am seeking out symbolic marks to press into slabs of clay wrapped into cylindrical forms. Every day in the studio is a creative adventure whether it is a left turn, right turn, step back or step forward into tomorrow.” For more of his ceramic works and paintings visit his web site.


“Ashetu Loop” by John Gargano, Lafayette, LA

His statement reads: “The ideas behind my art work stem from a fascination with Pre-Columbian pottery, mechanisms and forms of the human body, military armament and objects from the industrial world. These elements are intuitively mixed to generate universal forms that have familiarity and feel new, yet retain a link to the past and a hint of identity or function. That mystery captures my interest and gives the work a chance for dialogue or interpretation. The work often deals with parts, arms, or appendages that connect with pins, ball joints, or slots. Nestling or fitting one form into another is of great concern and requires engineering. Utilizing clay parts not only satisfies my artistic sensibilities, it also full-fills a need to express the importance of mechanics and working with tools. Growing up in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, the exposure to steel and automotive industries coupled with decay of “Downtown Detroit” impressed on me the effects of industrial weathering and age. The family trips to Northern Michigan exposed me to the weathering of the natural world through lichen, mosses, dramatic season changes, and the mixes of birch and conifers. These memories and experiences are a vital part of my work’s surface texture and glaze color palette. The glaze colors and surfaces allow my work to transcend time and place by existing in the present but often times feeling weathered, referencing a previous existence. To see more of his works visit his web site.  By the way, ashetu is a prestige head wear typical in Cameroon.


“Rules of Travel – Scholars Toys Series” by Keith Ekstam, Springfield, MO
“Metphysical Constant – Scholars Toys Series” by Keith Ekstam, Springfield, MO

His statement about these pieces reads: “The pieces in the Scholar’s Toys Series section are influenced by concepts surrounding Chinese Scholar Rocks. Scholar Rock is the most common English name given to the small, individual stones that have been appreciated by educated and artistic Chinese at least since the Song dynasty (960-1270). Their smaller size enabled the Chinese literati to carry them indoors where they could be admired and meditated over in their sparse studios. These rocks are generally viewed as small landscapes which embody utopian ideals. There is a definite landscape quality to this work, upon which have been placed a diverse range of ceramic forms. These are as far reaching as children’s toys to tools, architectural elements to geology, exalted objects to everyday mundane items. Wood-firing is a primary aesthetic concern in this work, but I also employ mixed ceramic media by adding low- fire, high- fire, salt-fired, luster glazed and other ceramic elements. This is done to provide visual and content-related contrasts as needed.” For more of his works visit his web site.


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