Ceramics

by Randy Carlson LC '76
Preus Library
September 1 - October 16, 2011

There will be an Alumni Group Gallery Reception held on Saturday, October 16, 2011 following the Homecoming football game, around 3:30 p.m. in the Center for the Arts. All are welcome.

Randy Carlson

Randy Carlson holds a B.A. degree in art from Luther College, an M.A. in printmaking from the University of Iowa and an M.F.A. in Ceramics from Bradley University. He worked as a production potter for three potteries, and in 1993 began teaching at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. There, he teaches all levels of ceramics, serves as Graduate Coordinator and just restructured the graduate program in the Department of Art. He was instrumental in establishing the Bradley University Clay Club to raise funds for visiting artists and studio needs, and also initiated the Central Timezone Ceramics Exhibition at Bradley, a biennial event with the third show scheduled for spring 2012.

Randy has attended workshops and residencies at several top ceramic venues, including Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts; Haystack; Anderson Ranch; and Adamah Horizons Clay Studio. He has also led workshops in a variety of college and university venues in the U.S. as well as the Atelier Cirkel in Belgium.

His work has been featured in one-person shows at Dartmouth University, Hanover, New Hampshire; Anderson University, Anderson, South Carolina; Rio Grande University, Rio Grande, Ohio; and the Craft Alliance, St. Louis, Missouri. Group exhibits have included the First Ceramics Monthly International, NECCA Conference, Columbus, Ohio; the Jersey Shore National, Surf City, New Jersey; Pitcher This, UNCP, Pembroke, North Carolina; Pour, Terra Incognito Gallery, LaGrange, Illinois; and Vasefinder International, a virtual exhibition curated by Robin Hopper.

Artist’s Statement

"When I learned that the proposed theme of this exhibited work was 'Transformation', I began to think of the various ways that idea applies. In the context of the sesquicentennial of Luther College, there are myriad transformations, in terms of the stream of students, faculty and staff that have devoted their time and careers, and physical changes of the campus and the evolution of the institutional mission that time.

Personally, as a Luther alumnus for 35 years now (can you believe it!) there have certainly been transformations of: further educational experiences and degrees, vocational experiences, familial developments, moving to various places in the country, international travel and career experiences. All of these agents of transformation have left their imprint on who I am today as a person and as an artist.

Developing my interests as a student of the visual arts here at Luther was one of the most profound experiences of my artistic life. My sense of making things with an eye toward art, design and craft started to mature here. I developed a keen sense of making objects in the best way I could. Knowing about materials, process and sense of connection to historical work began here under great mentors and teachers: Orville Running, Dean Schwartz, Doug Eckheart, and Loredo Adelman.

Throughout my professional academic life I have engaged in continuing dialog about what art is, about 'elements of art', 'mark making', 'content' and artistic trends of the past and present. From my personal vantage point now, some of this discussion seems too often to focus on things that get away from the “object” and floats increasingly in the realm of the conceptual, sometimes at the cost of making the work.  Through this continuum, the more I am exposed to the artistic legacy contained in the great museums, I have become even
more focused on the importance of being an object maker, leaning toward the drive and motivations of crafts people, while respecting the traditions, pushing design considerations in ways that result in a personal vision. For me the traditions of the artist crafts-person over the centuries not only reflect mastery of material and process, they speak of human transformation and development of culture. Symbolic and utilitarian items in my mind are more closely connected and give clues to the sacred and profane objects of the past and in contemporary culture.

Any medium of expression has its own particular history or 'Transformation'. For me ceramics through its art and science has a special place in the history of culture. It has literally enabled human beings to move up off the ground and has continually lifted them to the moon. The technology of fire and its ability to transform earthen materials into wholly new material has a certain magic that continually draws me
to move forward. The ability to take a lump of clay of an undefined, random form and manipulate it into an object and then transform it through the exposure to fire into an object for use or contemplation is the allure for me. I enjoy creating a relationship of form and surface that reflects both the effects of process and intent of the maker. The result being partly my design and partly a result of what happens in the kiln."

- Randy Carlson