Maker x Maker with Marcy LaBella (Week 2)
Artists from our community introduce you to the makers they adore.
We’re excited to be collaborating with Connecticut-based mixed-media artist and educator Marcy LaBella on our current series of Maker x Maker. In our second week, Marcy will be shining the spotlight on five other makers she admires. See who's featured below, with a new artist added to the list each day.
About the curator
Marcy LaBella has been making art since early childhood. She works in a variety of craft mediums as well as painting and drawing, with her main focus being painting, sculptural ceramics, and metals. Her work in these mediums draws on her love of color, composition, texture, and space – recurrent themes that are present throughout her body of work. Perpetually excited about art and about engaging with artists from all disciplines, Marcy is also a teaching artist and is passionate about community-based arts programming.
The sculptural ceramics of Monica Hewryk are thought provoking and dig deeply into what it is to be human. Deconstructed forms and disintegrating and dissolving vessels create a compelling narrative and cause us to consider the cycles of life, death, and regeneration. In her ever-evolving work, she returns to the question of the perfect faces that we show the world and what lies beneath them.
Her latest series of sculptural work focuses on time – time perspective and the human condition. Monica has created a series of timepiece sculptures in varying degrees of decay and decomposition. Her forms are based on traditional timepieces, sundials, pocket watches, and mantel clocks, but there are multiple concepts depicted in each piece. There is a depth to the themes in her work, which at first glance draws you in with beauty and lightness, only later to pull you into its deeper meanings.
Monica's forms are skillfully crafted using traditional methods – thrown, slab construction, and more. Monica fires to mid-range temperatures (cone 5), occasionally woodfires her pieces, and mixes her own glazes. With technical excellence and a talent for expressing emotionally through her medium, this emerging artist is a rising star to watch.
Elegant and classic come to mind when I think about the work of metalsmith Linda Jones, the woman behind Inda Jewelry Designs. Her line of perfectly formed sterling jewelry and pendants are just the thing to take you from day to evening. Her jewelry manages to be professional without being stuffy, funky without being too casual, and chic without being fussy.
Linda works in sterling silver, copper, and nu-gold (a brass alloy also known as jewelers bronze). Having created work in metals since the 90s, her process and concentration of study has been in anti-clastic and syn-clastic forming. She has studied with notable teachers such as John Cogswell, Betty Helen Longhi, and Michael Good.
Linda relates her love of music and dance to creating in metals, and she feels that same energy in the rhythm of the hammer and the heat of the torch as she creates. She also loves to incorporate etching into some of her work, and her newest line of etched pieces is inspired by South African mud cloths and their intricate designs. Linda pays special attention to her surface treatments, and her work can be either highly polished or deeply textured and richly patinated.
What I love most about Linda's work are her perfect forms and the sensual curves and bends she creates in her pieces – how she works the metal, which yields gracefully under her skilled hands. This maker creates bold yet feminine statement jewelry for every woman.
Graceful, sculptural forms that look just right in groupings, be they non-functional raku pieces or a stack of soup bowls – this is the pottery of Misty Mawn of White Willow Pottery.
Misty is a multi-media artist who paints and creates in other mediums but who started her journey as an artist as a full-time potter. What I love so much about her work in clay is the sense of serenity I get from viewing her simple but elegant work – forms that manage to be balanced, strong, and delicate all at once. This is not production ware but rather pottery lovingly hand crafted one piece at a time with care and attention to details. Pieces can feature details applied with handcarved stamps, collected vintage textile blocks, or handcrafted relief tiles which guarantee that no two pieces will ever be the same.
Misty uses English porcelain that she fires to cone 10 in oxidation, using handcrafted glazes in subtle tones, soft whites, muted blues, and faded yellows – calming colors you never grow tired of. She creates durable, food-safe glazes for her dinnerware and interesting, textural glazes for her non-functional and raku work. Misty considers her studio in a converted barn on her property a private sanctuary. There, she pushes the boundaries of her medium and its properties with her infinite curiosity and search for artistic expression. White Willow Pottery is pottery handcrafted with love and the skill and passion of this talented maker.
Mary Ruth Shields
In the work of maker Mary Ruth Shields, fiber art and apparel are more than objects but rather a way to express deeper meaning through art. Shields’s designs have always drawn me in because of her unique sense of style and classic lines. Her perspective as an artist digs deeply into the questions about what we choose to wear and why – and what that expresses to those around us.
In her intricate and detailed fiber collage work, Shields creates story boards that delve into personal history. Using reclaimed and repurposed materials paper, paint, mesh, felt, buttons, beads, and other embellishments, her multi-layered pieces are richly detailed and narrative-based.
The use of recycled and reclaimed materials is a high priority and commitment to this socially active artist. For the Trashion Fashion Show, she created a punk-inspired outfit from recycled materials inspired by the 2016 Punk Fashion Show at the Met. The piece crafted from wrapping paper, vegetable mesh, and package banding was a commentary on wrapping paper and the waste it produces.
In addition to her own artistic and creative work, Shields also runs her own company, United Sewing and Design, where she continues her commitment to social consciousness. She employs the formerly incarcerated and repurposes or recycles 90 percent of the waste her sewing facility produces. Mary Ruth Sheilds has managed to weave together a happy creative life where apparel, fiber art, and social awareness all come together.
Fine art meets craft in the work of Justin Gerace, a potter with big talent and amazing technical skills. The canvases for his hip hop-inspired art are his gorgeous thrown forms. Large-scale vessels and platters become more than just functional ware after his masterful surface design transforms already beautiful forms into true ceramic art.
Gerace’s graffiti-decorated vessels are inspired by his memories, the spontaneity of the art form, and its colorful designs. His large-scale platters and vessels require technical excellence and skill due to their size, and his process involves tools beyond those of the average potter with some made for the carpentry trade.
Justin Gerace is full of surprises, and I am always inspired to see how his work is evolving and what direction he will be headed next. You can see by his body of work how deep a personal connection there is between this maker and his art.
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