University of Nebraska at Omaha art students studying ceramics put on a public gallery show as part of Benson First Friday. The show, “Private Idaho,” was hosted in the Pet Shop Gallery.
For those who don’t know, Benson First Friday is a monthly event in the Benson area. On the first Friday of each month the Benson area puts on a variety events celebrating local arts and culture. UNO students were able to take part in this celebration due to the collaboration and planning between the Pet Shop Gallery opera-tors and the ceramics instructor, Luke Severson.
Severson is a full-time instructor teaching ceramics at UNO. The university does not currently have a ceramics major, but the art department is trying to bring it back. As a result, many students in Severson’s courses aren’t working towards their major by participating.
The students who contributed to “Private Idaho” were Ian Bless, Jackson Cunningham, Lauren Doeschot, Cat Grange, Kayleigh Hegarty, Jess Latch, Justin Neal, Cierra Ostentowski and Laura Simpson.
“They’re taking ceramics as an elective. So, they’re putting in a lot time for something that doesn’t necessarily go into their major,” Severson said. “A lot of this is a labor of love for them.”
The main project that produced most of the gallery’s art pieces was highly collaborative.“We made molds from a bunch of different things, and then collectively used the molds as a library,” Severson said. “Everyone was casting clay into those molds and cutting up those castings to produce individualized work.”
Viewers may notice seemingly recognizable shapes—and they would be right. Many of the molds created for the “mold library” were made from everyday items and random objects.
One bright orange art piece features a repeating bottle-like shape. The mold used to produce the piece was from a Listerine bottle, said Justin Neal.
Neal’s contribution to the gallery was a series of bright orange ceramic objects and a single blue one.
“As an artist, I more or less play with my material,” Neal said. “The orange is just horrendous. I was drawn to it. So I had to do my favorite piece in dark blue to be the show piece.”
The lower section of the gallery featured work by Ian Bless, who is just about to graduate. His art focused primarily on tile work.
“I’m usually mostly focused on the process of art,” Bless said. “For these ones the glaze I used was able to break well over the textures.”
Bless is graduating and currently also has work on display in the UNO Art Gallery in the Weber Fine Arts Building.
“This is my last show as a student. It’s pretty exciting,” Bless said.
Another art piece that instantly grabbed viewers attention was a tall, ceramic pole in the gallery. Painted yellow and black, the crooked shape stood alongside gallery attendees. The artist was Cat Grange.
“I was looking for a kind of mystical quality in my work, and this free standing [pole], this tall and that thin, does that,” Grange said.
She believes that her experiences in Severson’s ceramics class have been valuable to her career as an artist.
“I’m a sculptor, and I think it’s important for me to explore every single medium that I can,” Grange said.