One if the wonderful advantages to attending the ceramics program at the Kansas City Art Institute is the opportunity to explore the Ken Ferguson collection that has amassed over the years through student donations.
This collection can be exceptionally inspiring because the ability to identify between yourself as a student and these other works is heightened because it becomes much more easy for yourself to image the other artists as once having been a student. The collection itself also pushes an artist to rate their level of professionalism against another student's work to ask themselves if they are really taking their work as seriously has they should regardless of their status as a student.
For me, at least.
Every so often we are encouraged to pursue the shelves and cabinets to find a piece that is particularly striking or inspirational to us and to work to identify what it is about that specific piece that heightens our experience of it.
Most recently I selected a beautiful piece left behind by ceramist Steven Heinemann when he himself was studying at the Kansas City Art Institute. Heinemann's work, according to a statement he released, focuses on the space of a piece and how that space an be concentrated, whether internally or externally, and through which means that distinction can be achieved.
What attracts me most about this piece is the obvious display of the process of the creation with the piece by periodically moving a plaster mold to build up the delicate layers of slip. This process really lends itself to the overall form of the piece by accentuating the obvious strength and work-ability of the ceramic medium as well as highlighting on the inventive versatility that can be found in clay through reexamining the ways in which as an artist we work.
I also am attracted to the subtly of the form pared with the light color gradient created during the slip casting process because it works in a way that I think has since become very important to Heinemann's work; by this I mean that by utilizing the gradient from the rim of the piece into the interior, the color works to draw your eye into the piece rather than out of away from the piece creating a defined space.
Lastly what ultimately attracts me to this particular piece aside from the considerations and process applied, the apparent fragility of the piece requires me to openly address my personal interaction with the piece. So often vessel's in ceramics can be seen as a commentary on domesticity and function but I think to make a piece like this particular one works to make an artist reevaluate the moment.
By moment I'm not referring to something so vague as each time the piece in used. No, what I am referring to the is the first moment you piece up a ceramic object to experience its weight and capabilities, more specifically Heinemann's piece is so light and delicate that all thought of function or purpose exits the building when it sits in your hands because it honestly kind of makes me feel like a fumbling giant trying to not crush an eggshell. The piece becomes almost an experience in an or itself and that is something that really fascinates me to no end.