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The Dairy Barn's "Contemporary Ceramics 2021" show includes "Lantern, 3 Tier" from Eliza Au, left; "Cylinder, in the Gut" from Matt Kelleher, middle; and "Bloom," created by Benjamin Lambert, middle foreground, among other unique exhibits.

Dairy Barn hosts Contemporary Ceramics show with variety of clay works

Until Nov. 28, the Dairy Barn Arts Center, 8000 Dairy Lane, is hosting the Contemporary Ceramics show, curated by Ohio University ceramics professors Brad Schwieger and Tom Bartel. 

The show, which occurs every few years, features work from 16 different artists and both curators, who have each contributed their ceramic work for display in the exhibition. The artists were invited to submit their work by Schwieger and Bartel to demonstrate a diverse range of ceramic art. 

The show is open during gallery hours Wednesday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and costs $7 for general admission, $5 for students and seniors and is free for Dairy Barn members. 

Schwieger said he and Bartel chose the specific artists for the show by selecting artists across a wide range of backgrounds and artistic disciplines. Through doing this, Schwieger and Bartel also included their own work in the show to mimic the process they utilized when selecting works from other artists.

“Tom and I also have work in the exhibition, which usually doesn't happen. The curator usually does not put work on the show,” Schwieger said. “But the Dairy Barn thought it would be nice to show the diversity between Tom and I. Our work is really different, and we are influenced by different sources, and that's how the artists were picked, too.”

The general purpose of the event, Schwieger said, is to enrich Athens with a diverse collection of artwork that would not typically be present in the local area. 

“I see it as a teaching tool,” Schwieger said. “And not just for my students who are lucky enough to see all the artwork but also just for the public. As much as I love Athens, it's pretty isolated here. And so to bring artists to Athens, it's probably easier than people leaving Athens to go to museums and things like that. So, it's wonderful that … they (Dairy Barn) bring a lot of amazing artists and exhibitions to Athens.”

Holly Ittel, exhibitions director at Dairy Barn, said though the exhibit consists of entirely ceramic pieces, there is still variance in their design, imagery and creative vision.

“There is a variety of artworks on display, all made through clay medium,” Ittel said. “So, there's sculptural work, figurative work, pottery, and artists are exploring new techniques in the ceramics fields, such as 3D printing. It's a quirky, interesting show.”

One of the artists in the show, Kurt Anderson, said this element of quirkiness within the show is reflected through his own work — in which he hopes viewers find enjoyment. 

"I like my work to have a sense of humor about it. I don't like to take art so seriously,” Anderson said. “I like my work to express a little joy and, hopefully, people will come away with that.”

Marty Fielding, another artist in the show, said his approach to his art is greatly influenced by his awareness of the prior occurrences of the Ceramics Show in the past.

“My thoughts were to make some work that would be centerpieces,” Fielding said. “To think about scale, work that would stand up to the rest of the show, hopefully, in terms of that kind of prestigious factor of it.”

For OU students who may attend the show, Schwieger emphasized there is a strong educational element of the show, particularly for students interested in ceramics, as they can learn more about the technical aspects of it and the overall artistry. 

“There's a really beautiful sense of craftsmanship, the technical skill that artists use and the way they ... have gotten really good at using materials and tools,” Schwieger said. “That's always interesting for students because young potters or young clay people at OU, they just haven't had that much experience. They're still developing their skills and being taught how to do certain things. There's so much information there.”

For Fielding, while he is grateful students will be able to see his own work, he said the show’s specialty is the extensive variety of artwork the students will get to experience as well as the educational aspect of what’s being made in the ceramics field at the moment.

“Because ... as artists progress with their work and develop, we all become very specialized with particular directions,” Fielding said. “I think being able to see all of these individual approaches is also super exciting.”


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