February Featured Artists

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Nathan Bray, Guillermo Guardia, Ani Kasten, Jamie Lang Jewelry Spotlight: Melissa Mencini

Nathan Bray, Guillermo Guardia, Ani Kasten, Jamie Lang Jewelry Spotlight: Melissa Mencini

Nathan Bray
Iron, MN
Nathan Bray has taught in multiple facilities, including the Carbondale Clay Center (CO) and Bemidji State University (MN). Bray says that, to him, teaching means to drive process in his personal practice. He finds inspiration for his work in the plasticity of clay and in his passion for electricity, flowers, music, graphic art, and pop art. He uses a variety of colored slips and glazes to activate the surfaces of his terracotta pottery. Bray describes his method of making as stream of consciousness, driven by the continuous flow of new techniques and ideas.

Guillermo Guardia
Minneapolis, MN
Guillermo Guardia received his BFA in industrial design from Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in Lima, and both his MFA in ceramics and MS in industrial technology from the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks. Originally from Peru, Guardia currently lives and works in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He also creates figurative sculptures, integrating pattern and form, which are influenced by art history, his upbringing in Peru, Catholicism, his transition to living in the United States, and political events. Guardia has exhibited nationally and was awarded a fellowship from North Dakota Council on the Arts and a residency at the North Dakota Museum of Art (Fargo). His work is featured in the permanent collection of North Dakota Museum of Art in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and Fundación Puntos de Ecuentro in Bogota, Columbia.

Ani Kasten
Shafer, MN
Investigating the materiality of the clay is the foundation for all of Ani Kasten’s sculptural vessels. She writes, “in families, and these sculptural groupings explore the meeting point between natural and man-made worlds. The vessels take their influence from plants, water, rocks and clay, as well as from architecture, industry, and machinery … They investigate the nature of change, the compiling of memory, and a feeling of profound loss—the recognition of temporal beauty bound inextricably with grief.” Since completing her ceramic training in the UK in 2001, Kasten has developed a unique studio practice in which she draws from her extensive travel experiences. Her training in England, as well as the five years she spent working in Nepal, were a formative influence on Kasten’s ceramics. She is a current host of the St. Croix Valley Pottery Tour.

Jamie Lang
St. Paul, MN
Jamie Lang’s work reflects his thoughts about architecture, decoration, and memory. His mixed media sculptures are minimal geometric structures that reveal their own architectural planning. Each structure is created by casting adobe into wooden forms, Lang then adds layers of plaster, pigment, and wax to emphasize and decorate the rough surfaces of the form. The altered surfaces of each layer assert the passage of time and the burying and recovery of memories.

Melissa Mencini
Austin, TX
Melissa Mencini moved to Austin, Texas in 2013 to be a full-time studio artist and educator. Since moving to Austin, she has built and established her studio and she has become a core member of the Art of the Pot annual studio tour. Previous to her move south, she taught ceramics at the University of Alaska-Anchorage. Before moving to Alaska, she moved back and forth between Montana and Washington state, working as a studio artist and teaching at both Eastern Washington University (Cheney) and at the University of Washington (Seattle). During her first stay in Montana, Mencini was a resident at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena for two years and was the recipient of the Lincoln Fellowship for one year. She became interested in art at an early age and enrolled in classes at a local art center in her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Her current focus is making functional pottery embellished with graphic designs and decals.