Residents Sarah Margolin, Joseph Webster, and Jessikah Ann at work. Photo Credit: Jay Sullivan
Worcester, MA—Of Fire, a group exhibition of works from current Artists-in-Residence at the Worcester Center for Crafts will be on display in the Center’s Krikorian Gallery from June 16 through June 29. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, June 16, from 5:30-7:30 PM at Worcester Center for Crafts, 25 Sagamore Road. The reception and the exhibit are open free to the public. Krikorian Gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday 10 AM-5 PM.
This year, the Artist-in-Residence Exhibition brings together five ceramic artists and five glass artists whose diverse working methodologies, material explorations, and individual perspectives reflect their personal interests and goals within their one or two year residencies. The title of the exhibit refers to the common importance of fire to transform the materials of clay and glass into new forms.
“Firing is a transformative process that allows me to capture moments of fluidity in permanent pieces of art,” said second year Ceramic resident, Jesse Sullivan. “The exposure to heat in the kiln creates an opportunity for my touch to transcend boundaries of time.” The unique characteristics of ceramic processes allows impressions from the artists themselves to be preserved in the objects on view. Tool marks, fingerprints, and one’s personal sense of touch are forever embedded in the ceramic works on view.
While clay gains stability and durability from fire, glass yields with extreme heat. Artists that work with hot glass cannot touch it directly, but instead aim to master the use of tools to form and finesse their pieces. Spending an evening at Worcester Center for Craft’s New Street Glass Studio is like watching a dramatic, choreographed performance with fire. Teams of artists gather bubbles of molten glass, ignite torches, spin blowpipes, and work together to manipulate the material. This collaborative effort is one that is further emphasized by the residency program, which works to establish a supportive community of makers and to foster creative exchange.
The Artist in Residence Program
The Residence Program is part of the Worcester Center for Crafts’ mission “to sustain craft as important to the community and to society.” The program is designed to help the pre-professional artist to hone their studio practice within a community of other artists and artist/mentors. Residents are chosen through a competitive process and are at the Craft Center for one or two years. When chosen, each resident is provided with a studio space, access to facilities, and a supportive community of makers. In exchange, resident artists play integral roles at the Craft Center by completing studio support hours, teaching workshops, and volunteering at community-centered events.
FEATURED ARTISTS in OF FIRE:
Jessikah Ann is a potter who earned her BFA from Pratt Institute in 2013. Her simple, yet elegant porcelain forms are used as blank canvases for painted and carved animal imagery. Atmospheric firing methods, primarily wood and soda, are chosen to allow the lively movement of the flame to add color and unpredictability to the work. Jessikah Ann aims to create pottery as art that can be appreciated, touched, and used daily.
Hanna Brown earned a BFA in Glass from Massachusetts College of Art & Design in 2015. She uses glass to explore organic forms and textures based on her own personal connections and interactions with nature. By using processes like hot glass casting and glass slumping, Brown hopes to provoke an emotional response within the viewer that offers opportunities to contemplate their own memories and experiences with nature.
J. Shannon Floyd earned a BFA in Glass from Massachusetts College of Art & Design in 2015. Process and experimentation are most important to her work as an artist, as she is constantly searching for new ways to manipulate her materials. Pieces are created in the heat of the furnace, allowed to cool down then cut and ground into new forms which are then reheated and further manipulated. The resulting works are organic, whimsical sculptures that often evoke thoughts of nature.
Tessera Hayes is a glass artist from Littleton, Massachusetts. She graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design with a Bachelor’s degree and departmental honors in Glass. Tessera’s work combines visceral iconic imagery with a tedious attention to organic curvature and decadent surface.
Sarah Margolin grew up in southern New Hampshire and graduated from Alfred University with her BFA in Ceramics in 2014. Margolin’s ceramics are inspired by acts of noticing the subtle and dramatic interactions between nature and self. Her work is an exploration of how she can represent the complexities of the human mind through organic, amorphic forms that are surfaced with layers of mixed media materials.
Désirée Petty comes to the Craft Center from North Carolina, where she received her BFA in Ceramics from UNC Charlotte. She primarily uses the potter’s wheel to create her work, but transforms the clay surfaces by creating texture with a variety of tools. Making work that is both functional and sculptural is important to Petty’s studio practice. Her background in architecture instilled a strong interest to create forms that allow function and sculpture to coexist.
Alia Pialtos received her BFA from Massachusetts College of Art & Design and her MFA from the University of Colorado, Boulder. The Shrewsbury native's abstract ceramic work emphasizes the dynamic beauty and tension of oppositions. By capitalizing on the phenomenological qualities of ceramic materials, Pialtos captures suspended moments of transformation through her work. These complex, delicate structures appear to defy gravity as fluid lines and draping matrices are fixed in midair.
Dana Pomerantz is a glass artist and painter who graduated from Alfred University in 2013. Through her work, she fuses and distorts imagery of domestic spaces on glass surfaces, transforming two-dimensional imagery to three-dimensional sculpture that is dream-like, melancholic and nostalgic.
Jesse Sullivan is a graduate of the Hartford Art School, where he received his B.F.A. in Ceramics. Born and raised in Vernon, CT, and he grew up with a love of making art. He uses wheel thrown and hand decorated pottery to express ideas of ornateness and preciousness. For Sullivan, firing is a transformative process that allows one to capture moments of fluidity in permanent pieces of art.
Joseph Webster is a Boston based glass artist who received a BFA in Glass from Massachusetts College of Art & Design. He concentrates primarily on making Venetian style glass, making thinly blown glass objects for both functional and decorative purposes. Joseph has been blowing glass for over 8 years and on top of creating his own work he now finds himself working as a production glass blower as well has holding the position as the gaffer at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
About the Worcester Center for Crafts:
The Worcester Center for Crafts (WCC) is one of the oldest non-profit institutions for craft study in the United States. Founded in 1856 as the Worcester Employment Society to help immigrant women produce and sell hand-crafted wares to support their families, the Center evolved over the past 155 years into New England's leading center for craft education, exhibition and entrepreneurship. In 2004, the organization expanded and opened the New Street Glass Studio - an off-campus, 8,000 square foot, state-of-the-art, multi-studio glass facility. The WCC offers the only comprehensive glass studio program in New England available to the public. Through an affiliation begun in 2009, the WCC is home to the Worcester State visual arts studios and partners in community outreach.
The Craft Center's mission is "to sustain craft as a vital part of our community" by providing high-quality craft education and training, by supporting craft artists in their professions, and through
advocacy and public education initiatives including adult education classes and workshops, youth education and outreach programs, exhibitions showcasing the work of established and emerging artists, artist residencies, lectures, family events, studio rentals, Gallery Store, and major events. The WCC is a member of the Worcester Cultural Coalition and its WOO PASS program, and receives funding from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. In addition, WCC has an affiliation with Worcester State University.