10 Alaska artists + 10 Outside artists = '20/20 Vision'

University of Alaska Southeast and Alaska State Museum to host unique ceramics event

Posted: Thursday, October 30, 2008

Some of the finest ceramic artists from across the region and country will converge in Juneau next week for a unique educational and artistic experience.

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Courtesy Of Josh Deweese
Courtesy Of Josh Deweese

The University of Alaska Southeast and the Alaska State Museum have partnered together to bring the "20/20 Vision" Ceramics Symposium to Juneau beginning the first week of November. The ceramics event will bring together 10 Alaska artists with 10 ceramicists from the Lower 48 for workshops, lectures and shows.

The event culminates with an invitational exhibit, in which 40 pieces of contemporary ceramics will be displayed at the state museum from Nov. 7 through Dec. 17. An opening reception will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 7, at the museum.

"It's going to be a very exciting show from the standpoint of looking at a broad cross section of contemporary ceramics produced by operating artists across the country and in Alaska," said Bob Banghart, curator of exhibitions for the museum. "We get a really nice opportunity to look at regional, national and personal styles. We get the opportunity to see something that's right now very fresh, and I think that's the thing that's the most exciting - that we're bringing that here. You wouldn't get this opportunity in the state usually. Not in this mass anyway."

Banghart and UAS assistant professor of art Jeremy Kane have been toying with the idea for over a year and were able to get it off the ground after both institutions agreed to match funds for the project. It took roughly $10,000 to get the show together, Kane said.

"A, I'm proud of all the artists here," he said. "And B, I feel like we're kind of isolated so I thought it would be kind of fun to create a show of 10 Alaskan artists that are ceramicists as well as 10 people from the Lower 48."

In addition to the exhibit, the event will include workshops and ceramics demonstrations, held at the university on Tuesday, Nov. 4, and Wednesday, Nov. 5, from 5:30 to 9 p.m., in the ceramics studio in Sobeloff Building Room 106. There is no cost and they are open to the public.

"The purpose of these workshops is mainly to teach students at the University of Alaska Southeast and show them a bit of the professionalism that occurs with ceramic artists at a higher level," Kane said.

The event also is geared toward showcasing the ceramics program at UAS that has been growing over the past five years, Kane said. Kane, along with visiting artists Josh DeWeese, Liz Zacher and Ted Alder, will present a special Evening at Egan Lecture on ceramics beginning at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8 at UAS. Prior to the lecture, a UAS Student Art Opening will be held that day from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Lake Room at the Auke Bay campus.

"This function is for the students, for the artists and for the community," Kane said. "The more people that get involved in the event, I think the more clearly people will see how hard the students are working at UAS."

The invitational exhibit could very well be the most eclectic display of ceramics ever assembled in Alaska, Kane said.

"I do think it would be fair to say it's the most contemporary aesthetics displayed in one gallery setting, just because it was an invitational," he said. "It's intentional. It wasn't a random group of people that applied for this, which I think makes the exhibition more personal."

"There hasn't been, at least for ceramics, a lot of invitational shows of contemporary works on a large scale, which this is," Banghart said. "This one is unique from the perspective of bringing in 10 nationally recognized potters and 10 Alaskan potters, some of which have some national reputation."

Banghart said there are two things that he has really enjoyed about ceramics over the years, which he studied back in college.

"I like the immediacy of product from the hand-forming process and wheel work, but then I also liked the element of risk and chance and controlled chaos that the fire produced," he said. "There was a nice balance of this instantaneous aspect of it, but at the same time there was a lot of calibration and planning and specific work that needed to be done and then you surrender it, essentially, to the kiln."

Ceramics is a medium that can touch people's lives in very subtle ways, Kane said.

"I'm attached to sharing things with people, and in a weird way I was drawn into ceramics mainly by functional objects that people do use everyday," he said. "I've found ceramics to be a great way to communicate with people on a very simplistic level of everyday necessity."

o Contact reporter Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.

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