Since 2003, The Clay Studio has hosted annually the Marge Brown Kalodner Graduate Student Exhibition through the incredibly generous support of Marge Brown Kalodner and Phil Kalodner. The exhibition has consistently become one of The Studio's most popular and well attended and features the work of the best young ceramic artists working in clay. It is open to recent graduates from or students currently enrolled in Graduate Ceramics programs. The premise for this exhibition continues to be the identification of young artists whose work is deserving of attention, to provide a forum for both the exhibition and sale of that work, and to introduce the ceramics community to this next generation of talented individuals. Former Firsts focuses on four artists, each whose work was selected as the first prize winner from past Marge Brown Kaldoner (MBK) Graduate Student Exhibitions.
Merrie Wright was the first first prize winner in our first MBK Graduate Exhibition. She received her MFA from Louisiana State University and is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Tyler. The two pieces in Former Firsts of Wright's are from her Urban Wildlife series, which, "is a portrait of the animals struggle for survival and adaptation, and more acutely, portrays the connection or disconnection between our environment and ourselves. This work explores wildlife's relationship to the urban landscape through ceramic sculpture and digital photographs, which serve as a documentary of the work in the context they were created for."
Christina West received her MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 2006 and was awarded first prize that year. She most recently was a visiting lecturer in ceramics at The University of Wisconsin-Madison. West is a sculptor who focuses on the human figure. Her work "is an attempt to exploit the uncertainty, subjectivity, and ambiguity that veil experience...taking on the form of realistically rendered figurative sculptures that present voyeuristic moments and suggest ambiguous narratives."
Melissa Mytty, a current Resident Artist at The Clay Studio, received her MFA from The Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2007 and was awarded first prize that year. Melissa has exclusively focused her attentions, since her days as an undergrad at the College of Creative Studies in Detroit, MI on the creation of individual cups and cups and saucers. Her cups are always pinched, the freshness of her touch still evident in each fired piece. Mytty imbues each cup with it's own distinct personality, referencing contemporary culture, haute couture, tattoos, fashion trends, pattern, and automotive design. Each possesses a character and presence greater than their intimate scale.
Michael Fujita was the first prize winner in the 2008 MBK Exhibition. He received his MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. Upon graduation Fujita returned home to Portland, OR to teach at the Portland Community College. In May of 2009, Michael was awarded The Clay Studio's Evelyn Shapiro Foundation Fellowship. The Fellowship provides him a rent-free studio space, living stipend, materials and firings, teaching opportunities and a solo exhibition in September of 2010. Michael’s bricolage works blur the lines between object and sculpture, mixing the organic with the inorganic, structure and chaos.
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