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Artists discuss their work, encourage students
at Ceramics Invitational reception

March 11, 2013

James Lawton James Lawton poses with his work, "Benday Panel." Below, Jay Lacouture stands with one of his ceramics works. Both talked about their art during a reception for the CCRI Ceramics Invitational.

The Community College of Rhode Island Knight Campus Art Gallery has opened a unique show displaying ceramic art by artists of many different experience levels. The CCRI Ceramics Invitational features the work of 21 artists and will be on display through March 29.

The March 5 opening featured presentations by two of the most well-known artists in the show, UMASS Dartmouth Professor James Lawton and Salve Regina Professor Jay Lacouture.

The invitational is hosted by the CCRI Art Department with help from the Charles Sullivan Fund for the Arts and Humanities.

Lacouture, a native Rhode Islander, had an early career as a carpenter before going to college in his mid-20s and finding ceramics.

“Ceramics breeds friendship and community,” he said, noting that traditional ceramic artwork often brought people together when used as eating ware.

He added, “As a ceramic artist, there’s 10,000 years of history that you’re collaborating with.”

Jay LacoutureLacouture has been a professor of art at Salve Regina University for 30 years and creates most of his work in his backyard studio in Carolina. His ceramic art these days is heavily influenced by the traditional works he saw in China when he was an artist-in-residence at Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute in 2010. He frequently makes vessels such as teapots and jars that bear ornate decoration.

Lacouture urged students not to give up doing what they love and to always be lifelong learners. “Be curious and learn about whatever it is that interests you,” he said. “No matter how much you know, you need to know more.”

Lawton’s work is more conceptual. He began his artistic career as a painter but was always interested in design.

“I find in ceramics that my painting sensibility and architectural ability can be combined,” he said.

Like Lacouture, Lawton also makes vessels such as kettles and jars but he likes to challenge their traditional forms, creating wavy, complex shapes based on traditional cylindrical models.

“What we think of as the ‘right’ shape has actually been adjusted over millennia,” he said.

Lawton also makes a lot of wall-mounted pieces and in both his vessels and hanging art, plays with the static nature of ceramics. Many of his pieces bear paintings of motion, such as objects falling and waves crashing.

“I’m interested in works that suggest intransigence,” he said.

Many other artists have work on display in the Knight Campus Art Gallery for the show, including: CCRI Assistant Art Professor Mazin Adam, Rachelle Adam, Monica Bock, Josephine Burr, Erica Cioe, John Fazzino, George Garcia, Chris Lee, Andrew Maglathlin, Nate Morrell, CCRI Art Professor Tom Morrissey, Kate Oggel, CCRI Adjunct Art Professor Allison Randall, CCRI Adjunct Art Professor Roseanne Sniderman, David Swenson, Lawrence Timmins, CCRI Adjunct Art Professor Chris Tonsgard, Vicki Trofimova, John Vierbickas and CCRI Art Department Chairman Mark Zellers.

Zellers said ceramics is a popular medium for CCRI’s art students, which is part of why the department put on the Ceramics Invitational.

“There’s something very democratic about clay,” he said. “You touch it and it responds. It can take any form. I think that immediacy appeals to a lot of students.”

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Last Updated: 8/25/16