Six McKnight Artists

Juried Ceramics Exhibition

New work by 2009 recipients of McKnight Fellowships for Ceramic Artists awarded by Northern Clay Center.  Ursula Hargens (Minneapolis) and Maren Kloppmann (Minneapolis) will be on display in the Moline and Lower Level Galleries along with the work of four McKnight Resident Artists: 2008 residency recipients Ilena Finocchi (California), Elizabeth Smith (Arkansas), Yoko Sekino-Bové (Pennsylvania), and 2009 residency recipient Cary Esser (Missouri).

Maren Kloppmann received her M.F.A. from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, her B.F.A. from the Kansas City Art Institute in Missouri, and her Journeyman Diploma from Keramik Handwerkskammer in Germany. Kloppmann’s new series uses formations of pillow shapes and wall panels in porcelain to create wall installations. Her objective is “to make conceptual space tangible through a confluence of imperative visual elements.” This new work is modular in nature, with each element constructed by hand, revealing subtle imperfections that Kloppmann says, “energize a visual language of austerity.”

Ursula Hargens received her M.F.A. from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University and completed post-baccalaureate studies in ceramics at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, Canada, where she also spent this past summer teaching. The modular tile molds—some square, others with scalloped edges—are combined to form larger works of varied sizes and shapes. This new focus has provided an opportunity for innovation since the expanded surface requires new decorating solutions.

Ilena Finocchi currently resides and maintains a studio in Stockton, California. She received her B.F.A. from Youngstown State University in Ohio and her M.F.A. from the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. Finocchi describes her work with clay as “the connection to my childhood and means of communicating in a way I cannot do with words.” Through her use of metaphorical symbols, she explores stories from her childhood and the ways in which adulthood now interacts with those memories. Finocchi often employs bird imagery to represent herself in her narratives. Additionally, she references nature, life, and death, as well as specific memories of her father and his personal collections.

Elizabeth Smith is currently an assistant professor of fine art at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, where she has taught since 2001. She received her M.F.A. in ceramics from the Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and her B.S. in studio art and art history from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. Her interest stems from the strong connection between “the sensory impact of the seasons on one’s body and the sensory impact of a well-made pot…” Smith chose to communicate this idea through the creation of complex wall forms constructed from multiple slip-cast elements, a great departure from the functional works she’s been known for.

Cary Esser received her M.F.A. from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University and her B.F.A. from the Kansas City Art Institute in Missouri, where she has been Professor and Chair of Ceramics since 1996. While in residence, Esser employed her newly developed mold system to create tile and relief forms in repeated units, to be decorated with monoprint images of winter tree limbs and architectural floor plans, specifically depicting 10th century Byzantine churches.

Yoko Sekino-Bové began her artistic studies as a graphic designer, receiving her B.F.A. from Musashino Art University in Tokyo, Japan. Additionally, she received an A.A. degree in advertising design from Glendale Community College in California and an M.F.A. in ceramics from the University of Oklahoma in Norman. Her porcelain functional work employs the imagery of plants and animals to convey her emotions and curiosities. During her residency, Sekino-Bové developed an array of cone six glazes and explored their possibilities in electric oxidation firings. Ultimately, she hopes to publish her research and share her new palette of glazes in a ceramic periodical.

Northern Clay Center’s mission is the advancement of the ceramic arts. Ongoing programs include exhibitions of sculpture and pottery by regional, national, and international artists; classes and workshops for children and adults; studio space and grants for artists; and a sales gallery representing many top ceramic artists from the region and elsewhere. The Center is located at 2424 Franklin Avenue East, Minneapolis, MN 55406.


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