Patty Gagnon | January 2021 Visiting Artist
Patty Gagnon has been a resident of Marquette, Michigan for 20 years. She received a BFA/painting degree from NMU in 2015 and a BA in English Literature with an art minor from UC Santa Barbara in the 1960s. She has also attended innumerable art workshops, including Turkish tile design in Istanbul.
Raised on dam projects around the world, she met her husband, Harvey, in Pakistan. They continued moving to new places with their three sons. In 2005, they served in the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan.
SURPRISED BY JOY
‘Surprised by joy’ is a quote used by author Louise Penny in her Chief Inspector Gamache mystery series. It’s written on a plaque secured to the back of a park bench. Ms. Penny got it from CS Lewis, and he references a poem by Wordsworth. So, not a new idea – joy – but something I had forgotten in 2020.
It surprises us even in times of pandemics and uncertainties. Joy isn’t the same as happiness or pleasure. “Joy is never in our power.” It doesn’t deny death, darkness, evil, despair. We and our world are made up of all these parts, yet, look around and every once in a while it smacks you – joy. So here are the surprises of joy that hit me when I looked out, up and around.
Barry Bernstein | December 2020 Visiting Artist
I’ve been making vessels and
firing in the Raku process for over 35 years. I use the vessel form
as my canvas and the firing process as my paint brush. Slight adjustments in the firing and cooling create a wide range of colors and textures. I try to create visually strong forms and strong surface treatment. Pieces must have both to be considered successful. I make simple forms with very little embellishment to get at the strength and inner beauty of the vessel form.
My pieces reflect the hues and
the forms of our Upper Peninsula environment. Many of my pieces celebrate the Northern Lights. Others are reminiscent of Lake Superior and the brilliance of the fall colors.
Other influences include 7th to 17th century Asian ceramics and Native American pottery. Another is an artist/instructor named Richard Devore who fired his pieces numerous times. Devore fired his pieces in an electric kiln and I thought I would try the technique with Raku. To my delight, I obtained hues and textures not usually found in Raku. This has led to other experimentation including glaze firing the pieces twice in an electric kiln before I Raku fire. Each piece gets 2-4 Raku firings. Sometimes I over fire the pieces and then under fire them. Each subtle change in the Raku process creates different results. I’m still experimenting.
Joe Graci | November 2020 Visiting Artist