Ellen Kleckner (she/her) is an artist and educator living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Her artistic practice weaves together community engagement, material investigation, and collaboration. She studied ceramics at the Appalachian Center for Craft (BFA) and Ohio University (MFA). Kleckner is the executive director of the Iowa Ceramics Center and Glass Studio, a non-profit community art center.
Kleckner employs play and collusion paired with traditional practice to create new forms in collaborations with a community of makers. These forms investigate that which is commonplace through explorations of form and texture.
Her work continually investigates connections. Connections between place, material, idea, legacy and community. Drawn from a familiar vocabulary of makers, she joins materials to create forms that provoke the agencies of their utility, calling into question which is commonplace or recognizable through explorations of form, composition and materials.
Kleckner has exhibited nationally and internationally including shows at KVALITA Gallery (Czech Republic), Arrowmont School of Craft (Gaitlinburg, TN), Baltimore Jewelry Center, Gilded Pear Gallery (Cedar Rapids, IA), Mezinárodní muzeum keramiky v Bechyni (Czech Republic), and Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. She has received numerous awards and grants to support her craft research, including support from the Iowa Arts Council and National Council for Education in the Ceramic Arts.
Through a convergence of materials, I seek to understand connections between place, materiality, idea, legacy and community. My work utilizes the visual and mechanical vocabulary of makers and craftspeople, joining parts to create completed forms that provoke agencies of their utility, questioning which is recognizable. Systems of joinery serve as a means of exploring the binary of material/artist/concept. Unlikely combinations of joined media such as ceramics/wood/steel/reed actively illustrate the tension between these dualistic materials.
My pieces are joined with tension, allowing the materials to be separated in the future without compromise. Each of my pieces finds balance within its two-part system; materials become interdependent while maintaining individual integrity. This moment and method in which subjects meet creates a visual narrative depicting mutual reliance to hold the new form. My vessels are direct labor that speak of generosity, receptivity, and comfort. Rhythms of making are echoed in the rocking forms. Once grounded, these vessels repeat the intentions of their form, to comfort and contain, through their movement.
As complex as we have made our current world, the desire for connection is still at the forefront of our simplest of human needs. The physical joinery that excites my creative process is reflected in the person-to-person relationships within a community. As I continue to cultivate a community which allows for growth; my work articulates my desire to highlight the importance of joining with others, manifested through the physical forms and collaborative work.