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Multiple Realities - Six Clay Sculptors

Multiple Realities highlights ceramic sculptural work by six artists living in Minnesota: Gary Erickson, Cheryle Melander, Jennifer Otis, Mary Roettger (curator), Todd Shanafelt and Tetsuya Yamada. The common thread that weaves the show together is that all the artists have incorporated the use of some form of a multiple component in their work. The multiples range in number from two to three thousand pieces.

The title of the show, Multiple Realities, emerged as I selected the artists. The tangible, tactile object is the reality. An array of patterns, relationships and repeating elements are the multiples that come together into a single sculptural form. The methods of fabrication in clay to achieve a grouping of multiple forms are countless as they reflect and impact the intentions of the artist’s journey. As some works echo the space it exists in, others seem to have no beginning or end and others remain self-contained or are reaching to go beyond their own space.

Artists Jennifer Otis and Todd Shanafelt make reference to the rhythm of the thrown forms on the potter’s wheel in manipulating and assembling thrown composites parts or fragments to create sculptural form. “Slip-casting” and press molding, whereby clay is poured or pressed into multi-part molds, allows an artist to reproduce identical forms. The sheer number of these pieces in an installation creates a vast impact and pattern of relationships. For artists Gary Erickson and Cheryle Melander the process of installing the pieces becomes part of the creative process.

In hand building with slab construction processes, Mary Roettger and Tetsuya Yamada generate elemental building blocks. When the clay component is soft or leather hard it is further manipulated and shaped into sculptural forms.
In numerous pieces the artists also combined coiling, pinching and modeling techniques to rhythmically shape their work.

The variations and contrasts occurring in the works by each artist attempts to engage our participation. The artists struggle with questions such as, how many times does the pattern or part need to be repeated and to what end? How does the overall scale, use of color and the number of units affect the visual and emotional impact? Does the “multiple” address the transitional nature of existence? By the very nature of the multiple images in this exhibition the viewer is witness to countless and ever changing forms.

Mary Roettger, Curator


by Gary Erickson
Gary Erickson

by Tetsuya Yamada
Tetsuya Yamada

Todd Shanafelt
Todd Shanafelt