August 28 – September 29, 2023
Join us in viewing the evocative ceramic sculptures of artists Kristen Cliffel, Eva Polzer, and P.J. Hargraves at BW’s Fawick Gallery in the exhibition Mended Mythology. Their stirring and dynamic sculptures are carefully constructed with clay and embellished with vibrant glazes. The works provide allegory for a range of expressive emotions and experiences.
The reception will be in the Fawick Gallery Lobby from 5-8PM on September 22, 2023. There will also be an all-day artist demonstration on the Main Stage Theater in Kleist Center for Art & Drama, where all three artists will be demonstrating aspects of their creative process from 9:30 am-4:00pm, September 22nd.
August 28, 2023 – September 29, 2023
Reception: Friday, September 22, 5 pm–8 pm
Artisit Demo: Friday, September 22, 9:30 am–4 pm
(break from 12 pm–1 pm, artist talks from 1 pm–2 pm)
Location: Kleist Center for Art & Drama
Department of art
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Lulled by the banal rhythms and social constructs of domesticity, one can easily be seduced into believing that all is as it should be on the home front. There is an inherent tension in the “domestic agreement” when I examine it honestly. The battle between primal needs and desires versus the sublime comfort of “belonging” to a civilized and bonded family unit full of responsibilities and behavioral expectations is unimagined and very real. My work is an exploration of some of these “Domestic Mythologies”.
Our culture surrounds us with pervasive archetypal myths and fairytales. When measured against these “Storybook” expectations, life appears daunting. “Happiness” and “Fulfillment” seem bloated and almost punishing when viewed through fairytale lenses. I find myself at odds with prescribed routes to “Happily Ever After” and “Success”.
Creating artwork is the way I express my questions, concerns, and hopes for the future. Being a spouse and parent, I find myself wedged into roles that both trouble and delight me. The emotional concept of “Home”, belonging to someone and someplace, seem integral to human fulfillment. The perilous and circuitous routes to these goals are what I investigate in my sculpture. Connection, safety, security, hope and fear are some of the emotional triggers that crystalize ideas for me.
Developing visual narratives helps me understand some of the mixed emotions I navigate through on a daily basis. By distilling events and feelings into visual metaphors, I seek to reveal the complex layers and emotions that are behind seemingly simple, yet integral relationships. Taking things out of their context, and juxtaposing them with other seemingly unrelated objects, begs questions of relevance and purpose.
Ceramics is a malleable and expressive material that lends itself to seductive surface treatments and voluminous forms. The relationship between the medium and my choice of subject matter feels innate. Using humor and beauty in the work allows me to delve deeper into the heart of the intimate relationships that surround the domestic stage.
Kristen Cliffel is a ceramic sculptor living and working in Cleveland, Ohio. Her studio practice is centered around themes of domesticity and relationships that connect people over time. She graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1990 with a BFA in Ceramics. Kristen’s work is included in many public and private collections across the country.
Ms. Cliffel has completed Residencies at The Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada and the Kohler Company in Wisconsin. Kristen has given workshops widely including the Penland School of Crafts, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, the Cleveland Institute of Art and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center.
Kristen was awarded a Creative Workforce Fellowship from the Cuyahoga Partnership for Arts and Culture, has received several Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowships and has been a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant Nominee. In 2016, Cliffel was awarded the prestigious Cleveland Arts Prize for mid-career artist in visual arts.
I navigate the uncertain times we live in by creating positive, playful sculptures because focusing on joy is not only possible in times of hardship, I believe it is necessary in order to thrive. I go through life with a watchful reverence, finding beauty and hope in the abundance of life in the natural world. Using playful form language and intuitive mark making, I invent my own array of stylized plant life in the form of contained environments, allowing me to reinvent and intentionally exaggerate landscapes and plant forms in clay with a freeing sense of whimsy. My fantasized pieces are an invitation to extend imagination to the joyous moments in the world around us, and to return to an innocent sense of wonder.
My studio practice is a joyful alternative to the pervasive despondency that is present in many aspects of our culture, capturing optimism and delight through the act of making. The trees I sculpt are methodical and rhythmic, inspired by both wild and manicured plants, but constructed within the limitations of the process of coil building and the tensile strength of clay. I work with an emphasis on experimental spirit in the studio, constantly taking risks with aspects of my making process and the materials I utilize. I find beauty in the immediacy and materiality of clay, working spontaneously and playfully to imbue my pieces with palpable energy. I combine a reverence for traditional folk craft with an overstated and garish flamboyance, using materials like Egyptian paste and beer bottle glass simultaneously.
I am an enthusiastic artist and craftsman, inspired by folk art, historical ceramics, textiles, and the decorative symbols, icons, and motifs that appear across time and disparate cultures. My high-spirited objects draw inspiration from Pennsylvania Dutch folk symbols and metaphors of good fortune, perseverance, hopefulness, and strength. The most prevalent representations of these themes emerge in the form of various birds and flowers. Referencing this tradition, I adorn each of my pieces with stylized birds and flowers as a symbolic pattern of abundance and celebration. My sculptures often include vessels to suggest generosity and plentiful harvest through pottery’s deeply rooted history as crafted objects intended for containing and offering.
My imagined scenes are a celebration of life’s abundance and a celebration of ceramic processes, offering positivity and delight through optimistic symbols and lush ceramic surfaces. I hope this work can be an opportunity to stimulate playful imagination and draw attention to the importance of finding moments of joy in our increasingly complicated daily lives.
PJ Hargraves is from Philadelphia Pennsylvania and is currently the 3D Technician for the Myers School of Art at the University of Akron. In addition to working at Myers, PJ is an adjunct faculty member at Tri-C and teaches continuing education at the Cleveland Institute of Art. Before moving to Ohio, PJ was an Artist in Residence at the LUX Center for the Arts in Lincoln Nebraska for two years. PJ earned an MFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2020, and a BFA in Ceramics from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in 2017 along with a K-12 Art Education Certificate. During undergraduate school PJ worked for two consecutive summers as a staff member at Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts in 2015 and 2016 in Newcastle, Maine. PJ was also an invited participant in the first Mid-Atlantic Keramik Exchange Residency in Reykjavik, Iceland in 2019.
PJ has exhibited his work both nationally and internationally and is the recipient of numerous grants and awards. In 2023, PJ exhibited his work at the NCECA conference in Cincinnati, Ohio and will have a solo exhibition at KINK Contemporary in Cleveland, Ohio. In addition to teaching classes and workshops for kids and adults, PJ enjoys the labor of the studio, including building and fixing kilns and helping students troubleshoot problems with materials and firing.
Clay is poetic, reactive and sensitive, a direct capture of effective touch. She creates space for endless experimentation and play, intuitive give and take. Her initial stages offer immediacy and forgiveness, while the latter begs patience and acceptance of what we cannot control. Clay is complicated, yet instinctive, something I value in a medium.
My process is an exertion, I work quickly and intuitively- creating home for feelings I no longer want to occupy my mind and body. I prefer to build solid, from the inside out. This specific process allows me to touch, move, remove, and manipulate in ways that make me feel free. Layers and clumps of clay stack and smooth over one another, individual moments become one, until the bare minimum of figure emerges; much like the development of identity. I apply the material in gestural sweeps, creating anatomy, bones and flesh; though I have no intention of hiding the fact I am using clay to do so. Process wise, I find it fitting that I typically spend more time with the interior of my figures- I cut and core, emptying the insides, hyper aware of how thin my skin is.
I am in a committed relationship with clay, the beauty of discomfort, and the creation of animal; breathing figures meant to be projected onto, fawned over, and feared for. Their bodies speak, primal and honest, a non-verbal language observed fluently. I use them as a vehicle to unpack, to attempt to understand both intra and interpersonal dis/connection and dis/regulation, and to communicate my concerns with my own internal and external world.
Eva Polzer was raised in Perry, Ohio. They graduated with an AA from LCC, with a focus in psychology, and then transferred to Kent State University where they graduated summa cum laude with a BFA in ceramics and sculpture. Immediately following graduation Eva took residency at New Harmony Clay Project, then continued their self education as a quasi post bacc at KSU. Recently, they just completed their residency at Akron Soul Train, during which they held a workshop: an intro to sculpting, and a second the following month. Eva is a freelance artist; they also work(ed) as a gallery liaison, art handler, project coordinator, etc. for Curated Storefront; and as a collections management assistant for a private collection, in Akron, Ohio.
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WEDNESDAY: 2:00pm - 5:00pm
THURSDAY: 2:00pm - 5:00pm
FRIDAY: 2:00pm - 5:00pm
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