Art Galleries
Flatlanders Art Galleries proudly presents with Technical Assistance the TA’s of Adrian College, featuring artists; John Ahearn, Janel Dziesinski, and Meghan Walton. This exhibit is free of charge and will be open to the public from January 17th through April 3rd, 2010. A reception with the artists is planned for Sunday, February 14th,  2010 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.

 

John Ahearn

There is an old saying, “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”.  In life there are always moments that cause pain or sadness and events that feel like they are ripping at your soul.  These moments can range from tragic deaths to simple paper cuts, but each hardship plays a key in who we become in life.  Sometimes we don’t know how it affects us at that moment, but in the end each event in our lives either causes us to crumble to pieces or strengthen who we are. 

My artistic philosophy when creating my ceramic forms stems from this old saying.   I feel as if each clay piece has its own life and it’s my job as the artist to help the clay along in its journey of becoming a finished unique and special piece.  When sculpting each piece, I can add positive space to it by using thick slips or take away from the piece by cutting it, sculpting or drilling holes into the forms to make negative space.  My actions on each piece are like the events in our everyday lives that either enhance or destroy us.  The artistic decisions I make either lead to creating a perfect ceramic form that will be adorned for year to come or back to the pottery wheel.  I guess I could say, “What doesn’t destroy the ceramic piece will only make it perfect”.

Janel Dziesinski

My most recent body of work explores creativity from inside the artist. I spent a lot of my college career often frustrated with the notion of what art really is. As I would create, I would ask myself the question why? Why am I mixing sand into my paint and splattering it on a wood panel? Why am I covering a large paper mache form with Styrofoam peanuts? Why am I trying to form personal, in depth meanings about sandy paint and Styrofoam peanuts?

I became more frustrated with myself as an artist through my historical study of art. I found art to be profound, grasping onto cultural ideas and cleverly expressing them through their magnificently crafted works. The question of why came back into my head. Why I can never form meaning to my work like these artists did? Why was I trying to grasp an understanding of my own work that seemed absurd for a twenty-something year old to have? Why does it seem like some twenty-something year olds do have such intellectual meaning in their work? The questions persisted and my confidence as an artist diminished.

I have always appreciated artwork aesthetically first and then the “meaning” is considered. So with the continuation of my egg forms, I am seeking to explore my creativity from an aesthetic point of view. Through texture, form, and color, I am hatching something inside myself that has been concealed by my own self-doubt, intimidation, and pressure of asking why.

Meghan Walton                                       

I think it’s safe to say I watch the Food Network more than any other network on cable TV.  I enjoy watching my foodie friends whip up meals I could only dream of pulling off on my own, and yet they make it look so effortless.  Though I must admit my weak spot for a simple white, fluted casserole dish leaves me a little distracted.  I probably spend as much time checking out their dishes as I spend learning the new recipes they so casually introduce. Baking has always been a big part of my life, both as a stress reliever as well as a sign of my affection for those around me, and with my most recent body of work I have been able to marry my love of baking with my fondness for functional pottery.

After years of coveting the fine baking accessories seen in high-end retail stores, I’ve set out to make these same items for myself.  I have always been drawn to functional pottery as opposed to sculptural pieces because I prefer to be able to use the pieces I make.  Currently I have been working on creating my own series of items often used for baking such as pie dishes, cake pedestals, and mixing bowls among other things.  I tend to keep the form of my pieces pretty simple in order to better showcase my surface designs, while staying within the confines of traditional bakeware.  Because I plan to offer my wear as usable items, I think it’s important to stick with the usual dimensions which would be called for in most recipes. 

One aspect which sets my work apart from everyday household items is the delicate, hand-painted surface decorations. Most of the imagery I use when painting or carving into my work comes from nature, and more specifically botanical illustrations.

Each flower I include in my illustrations represents a connection I have with the important women in my life.  I have always found my greatest strength to come from the women who have helped to shape who I am today.  In many ways, the idea of the flowers symbolizes, for me, the ability to be both feminine and beautiful, but also resilient and able to withstand the inevitable storms that will come and go.

Growing up I often joined my mother and grandmother in the garden helping them plant a wide range of different flowers, many of which are the same flowers I adorn my pieces with.  One of the most common flowers in my work is the dogwood blossom. The blossom reminds me very much of my grandmother because of the dogwood trees which line the streets around her house. The tulip is one of my personal favorites because of their simplicity and clean lines, though I am also drawn to some of the more intricate flowers like the hydrangea and peony.

I am still experimenting with different ways of applying my surface decorations.  I have tried several methods of surface decoration such as painting the designs on with colored slips (liquefied clay with added pigments), and also majolica, which gives the surface a quality similar to watercolor. However, I feel my most successful method, thus far, involves inlaying colored slip into the designs I carve into the surface of the piece. The end result tends to look similar to an ink drawing with finely hatched lines, which is exactly what I’ve been looking for, and will most likely continue playing with.