Women in Clay
by Leti Wesolowski, contributor
Opening reception Friday June 16, 5-8pm
Show ends July 17
“Women in Clay” is a show celebrating visual art created by women bonded over more than love for mud. Community through creative expression strengthens our world in the most challenging of times. The artists gathered for this gallery show include potters/ceramicists Madalyn Kae, Brenda Hadnagy, Deb Crowley, Linda Ross, Carroll D. Hightower, Robin Scappaticci, Harriet Lee and oil painter Jean Cuchiaro.
Each one has created new works for this show. Some are inspired by nature, tropical places, textures, or new processes. Others are inspired by personal events like a new puppy or their flower garden. Join us for this much-anticipated Summer show. Opening reception is June 16th from 5pm to 8pm as part of the Manitou Springs 3rd Friday Art Walk.
Harriet Lee has been a sculptor for 30 years working in many different mediums. During her extensive career, she did a number of large public art sculptures, but more recently she has found herself wanting to explore smaller and intimate pieces. “Clay is a wonderful material that can be used in a lot of different ways,” she explains. “This last year I have been playing around with pieces using a variety of processes and it's been fun.” For this exhibit, she has worked on two techniques for the love of graphic black/white patterns: carving lidded pots out of blocks of clay and the application of “naked” raku firing on hand-built pieces.
Note: Naked raku is a type of raku firing in which a slip is applied to the pottery before firing, then it chips off revealing a black crackle pattern.
About ten years ago, shortly after retirement, Linda Ross took a class at Bemis School of Arts and immediately she fell head over heels with clay. “I quickly discovered my pieces gave me a voice I'd never experienced before. Needless to say, I was inspired!!!” she says. For this show, she is exploring sculpting the human figure and the uses of glazes and non-traditional finishes. Inspired by tropical places and soft Summer breezes, her favorite piece and the one that “feels exotic” to her, is a stylized hand with a whimsical henna tattoo.
Robin Scappaticci started out in college as a computer science major but took an art elective and fell in love. She graduated with a BA in studio art with a focus in ceramics planning to be a production potter. However, after a few years working in a co-op studio in Lynn, MA, long hours, no money, and many other reasons, she lost her love for clay.
About ten years ago, she was reintroduced to clay when a friend invited her to take a Summer class, taught by Rui Hagen. Today she is creating functional work, whether wheel-thrown or hand-built, and she is using lace to create texture. “Lace, with its delicate quality and the many different patterns, gives me (the texture that I always loved). I like the idea of taking something old and creating something new from it,” she explains. Robin’s favorite pieces on this show are her cups. Her true joy comes after they are finished, when “I am able to hold them, warmed with something inside,” she says. Find more of her artwork at 45degreegallery.com in Old Colorado City.
Deb Crowley took a wheel throwing class about five years ago and has loved working with clay since then. Her primary inspiration are shapes and colors found in nature—an aqua summer sky, the green Spring foliage, the vibrant oranges of sunsets, the curves found on the creek behind her house.
For this show, each work is unique with its own flaws and qualities, not perfectly symmetrical. “I love the way porcelain...finds its own shape and flow in the firings,” she says. Her pieces are glazed on the inside, making her work functional but raw on the outside, exposing the natural color and feel of the porcelain, a texture she calls “naked.” Her favorite pieces with this technique are the little wish cups, colorful and bright on the inside and nude on the outside. They are all unique and can be used as rice cups, espresso glass, toothpick holder, etc.
Artist Brenda Hadnagy has been making art since she was a little girl. In third grade, she decided to be an Art teacher, so she did! She got her BFA from the University of Utah and taught Art for many years. She took her first pottery class at 16 and it was instant love. Ever since, she has worked in many formats from sculpture to everyday tableware, trying to bring an intimacy and emotional connection through her art to her viewers. She loves to experiment with different techniques and glazes. “I find carving into clay and creating a tactile third dimension to my work to be very satisfying. I like to tell a story about how I am feeling through my work,” she explains.
Her work for this show includes a few functional pieces carved using scrafitto technique, creating a bold look in black and white, as well as a trio of sculptural pieces called the “Yoga” figures, where she experimented with playful poses to make you smile. Find more of Brenda’s work at commonwheel.com
Note: Scraffito is a decorative pottery technique created by scratching through a surface to reveal a layer of contrasting color underneath.
A native of Brooklyn, NY, Carroll Dorrell-Hightower moved to Colorado Springs 22 year ago. She learned pottery at the Senior Center and she has been enjoying pottery for the last eleven years. For this show, she has created hand-built functional small dishes and sushi plates with her glazes being the focal point of her work. “I see my pieces as lovable, beautiful, and pleasing to the eye,” she says. “Making…functional pottery pieces means a lot to me. I know that my pottery can be used just about every day,” she adds. You can find her artwork at Cottonwood Center for the Arts and at 45degreegallery.com
Potter Madalyn Kae discovered her passion for clay over 40 years ago. Most of her work is sculptural but for this show she made an exception. “I love to do work that makes people smile, whimsical, sometimes fanciful,” she says. For this show she made functional pottery such as plates and bowls inspired by a puppy she rescued last year. “My new puppy is a tri-color border collie and she is a pistol, always making us laugh...This small ball of joy has grown into a 45-pound best friend,” she adds. She decided to express their friendship through her dog series.
When the artists of “Women in Clay” approached Colorado oil painter Jean Cuchiaro to paint flowers as a colorful backdrop to their clay creations, she felt honored by their challenge. “I've always had a creative spirit, eager to come up with or try different methods of communicating my appreciation and wonder about all the colors, patterns and characters in my surroundings,” she explains. An avid gardener, Jean loves to paint flowers as well as landscapes, farm animals, birds and wildlife.
Her paintings for this show represent all the wonder and delight to be found in and around a Summer garden in Colorado, with colors that vibrate in the sunlight through transparent petals and leaves, such as “Pink Dahlia” (Oil, 24”x36”) “Morning Glories” (Oil, 36”x24”) and “Pink Poppy” (Oil, 20”x30”).
Her favorite work on this show is the “Tulip,” (Oil 24” x 30”) because “the striking composition and range of values makes it almost a beautiful abstraction of nature.” Along with it, she has included a large collection of “Posies” (Oil, 4”x4”) and four 12”x12” oil paintings depicting a poppy, a morning glory, a sunflower and a petunia.
She also added succulents to the mix. This collection is called “Succulents for a Brown Thumb,” all deep floating frames measuring 4”x4”x2.5”. The reason, Jean explains, is that “I have become intrigued with all the diversity in colors and patterns… as a gardener, I really appreciate that they are drought tolerant and extremely easy to grow in the Colorado landscape...and because I want to add these to my garden now also!” she says.
Find Jean’s artwork on her website Jeancuchiaro.com, at Commonwheel in Manitou Springs, on commonwheel.com, and at Squash Blossom gallery in Old Colorado City.
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