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A&D Professor Included in National Ceramic Exhibition

Clay NationalLast month, the national ceramics art world descended upon Carbondale, Colorado, a well-known thriving arts community. In conjunction with the local clay center, an exhibition featured some of the best current work from ceramicists in the country.

And Ohio Northern University’s ceramic professor Luke Sheets was included.

The nationally juried exhibition, Carbondale Clay National V, was on display through Oct. 29 at the Carbondale Clay Center, 135 Main St.

Twenty-four ceramicists from across the nation displayed functional work, including plates, jars, bowls and teapots in the show titled “Function With Flair.” More than 30 pieces were on display in the varied exhibition that was juried by Doug Casebeer, the artistic director of ceramics and sculpture at Anderson Ranch Arts Center.

“This show simply brought the national clay scene to the Carbondale Valley,” said Casebeer, who regularly juries national exhibitions and has judged the Clay Center’s Clay National two times.

For this year’s Clay National, he reviewed at least 200 images and applications and narrowed the field down to the 31 pieces that color the pedestals and walls at the Clay Center. A range of work, from earthenware and terra cotta to stoneware and porcelain was in the show.

“Function With Flair” displayed eccentric, curious work but kept it “accessible,” according to Clay Center board member K Rhynus Cesark. Referring to the prospectus inviting artists to apply, Cesark explained, “Really great pots have three hurdles to overcome: get the viewer to look; get the viewer to touch; and get the viewer to engage daily.

“It’s a beautiful show. Everyone that’s come in here has loved it,” Cesark said. “It’s very accessible because they are common objects but done in very uncommon ways. It’s a new way for people to see utilitarian objects.”

Cesark chose Sheets’ work because, “I thought that particular object had great dimensions and proportions. It was personal and the glaze and firing were great. It was one of those pieces where everything came together for the artist.”

Every clay artist strives for that perfect piece, Casebeer said, “when your hands and your ideas melt together to make successful work.”

Cesark said the center was lucky to have Casebeer, a nationally renowned artist and teacher, jury the show. Often, the juror drives the number of applicants, she explained, which was why so many outstanding artists submitted for the show.

This juried exhibition also caught the allure of ONU’s ceramic professor Luke Sheets. “The show highlighted the eccentric and curious ritual of useful pottery,” explained Sheets. “In this exhibition, accessibility and engagement were primary objectives and focused on pottery shapes, from cups to bowls, vases to jars—issues I have been very much interested in addressing in my work.”

Luke Sheets is an assistant professor in ceramics at Ohio Northern University. He earned his BFA from Ohio Northern University and his MFA from Bowling Green State University. His work has been accepted into many national competitions including the Majestic Galleries’ National Juried Competition 2009, the “Drink: Functional Forms for Every Libation” international competition, the 8th Annual National Juried Cup Show and the 6th Annual “It’s Only Clay” National Exhibition. In 2005, he had work included in “500 Cups: Ceramic Explorations of Utility and Grace,” a book published by Lark Books. Prof. At ONU, Sheets is the adviser to the Kappa Pi art honorary and is responsible for the three-dimensional program in the department of art & design.

Located in Carbondale, Colorado, the Carbondale Clay Center offers many programs including classes, workshops, community outreach programs and artist residencies. The Center explores the passion of life through ceramic arts and believes clay is the universal language that connects people, cultures and world history.

Ohio Northern offers both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees with majors in advertising design, art education, graphic design and studio arts. The department of A&D holds memberships in national organizations such as the National Art Education Association, College Art Association, Foundations in Art: Theory and Education and the National Council on Education of Ceramic Arts. The department is recognized in the second edition of “Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers” as one of the best creative programs nationwide. For additional information about the department of art & design or the University’s 2009-10 Arts Exhibition Season, contact the department at 419.772.2160.

image: Work from “Function With Flair” international exhibition.