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May 05, 1971 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1971-05-05

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THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Page Five

It A I I - t- & A-, , & I n-Y I

I

W ednesday, M ay S, 19 1
Lantern ceramists: olor andorm

By LARRY ADELSON
A vigorous and refreshing ex-
hibition of ceramics by Jo h n
and Susanne Stephenson and
Georgette Stull. currently at the
Lantern Gallery, 301 N. Main, is
notable both for the competence
of the work shown and also be-
cause of the direction in which
it is moving.
All three of the artists have
at sometime studied in Japan
and have pursued more or less
traditional forms in their work,
but in the present show they
have all moved into highly col-
ored and non-functional work.
Ann Arbor has always had
more than its share of g o o d
potters (the three represented
here are among the best) but
the 1,000th earth-colored p o t
tends not to grab one's interest.
So, if for no other reason, the
show is pleasant by virtue of its
brightly colored glazes.
These are low-fire glazes
which have been traditionally
sold in hobby shops to old la-
dies, but which have been re-
cently picked up by more serious
ceramists.
The movement, which start-
ed on the West Coast, seems to
be infiltrating local wares. The
colors range from flat, enamel
r e d s to pearlescent whites--
Susanne Stephenson in partic-
ular h a s an almost painterly

range of colors to her palette.
The work of John Stephen-
son, a member of the architec-
ture and design school facults
has a (well deserved) interna-
tional reputation. In the yeass
that I have watched his work
it has been consistently original.
Shephenson manages to k e e p
growing and changing, and al-
ways in very individual direc-
tions. This is a rather unique
comment since most of the work
that comes out of the architec-
ture and design school, at any
level, is derivative in style.
At the time t h a t I began
watching his work, Stephenson
was doing "pots" built up out of
slabs of clay which had been
impressed with n e w sp a p e r
plates. These pieces had a feel-
ing of explosion to them, push-
ing out from the body of the
work.
Since then, his work has pro-
gressed away from pottery form',
in a more purely sculptural di-
rection and he has begun to use
a number of sculptural mater-
ials in addition to clay (polish-
ed aluminum in t h e Lantern
pieces). Indeed, one might coll
him a sculptor who uses ceram-
ics as much as a ceramist. His
recent forms have coalesced and
display a contained rather than
explosive power.

Unfortunately, only one of the
pieces being shown is actually .;
free-standing sculpture in-t"-'
round, the rest being plaques.
"Unfortunately," because I have
generally found relief works to
be unsatisfactory, suspended as
they are between sculpture and
drawing. A n d unfortunately
once more, because Stephen-
son's plaques are not as success-
ful as his free-standing work.
The sculptural pieces which he
has exhibited at the last two
annual Faculty Art Shows have
had a rather monolithic stature
to them. The piece in the Lan-
tern show has its own charming
presence. But I find the flat
pieces to be rather incomplete,
the forms do not develop fully
and are cut off by the circular
format.
Susanne Stephenson, who is
on the faculty of Eastern Michi-
gan University, is showing a va-
riety of works. A few of theis
are functional --Casseroles if
you will.
The forms are very nice and
the complexities of the glazing
are very pleasing. These are ex-
ecuted in rather sombre colors
and include a very large thrown
pot.
ier most ambitious works are
called "Reflected," "Reflecting,"

or "Domed" Forms. These are
spherical forms with pedestals
and fins, and decorated with
bright glazes, slashes, and squig-
gles of clay. The fins are found
in pairs opposite each other and
painted with metallic glazes so
that they reflect decorations on
either fin or between them. The
bodies of the pieces are decor-
ated in a range of beautiful,
rich, and frequently pearlescent
glazes. They are quite impress-
ive and should not be described
but seen.
Georgette Stull is a more re-
cent arrival to the Ann Arbor
ceramics scene. To begin with,
she is showing some kitchen-
ware (goblets, cookie jars . . . ).
She has some interesting and
original designs which she does
over and over, decorated in
thick green and brown.
This is the facet of her work
with which I had been familiar,
so imagine my surprise at the
other part of her show. She is
making large, fantastic, s la b
built forms which resemble jig-
sawed fantasies or (as one of
the gallery people suggests)
Leonardo's drawings of tanks
(but in pink).
They all have a nice humor-
ous quality to them although
they do not take directly off on

4

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yeramicsas do some other fun-
ny works.
The large forms look like
something one would really like
to find in a gift shop but are
more fanciful than one would
expect to see at a pot sale. The
smaller, more functional pieces
bear little resemblance to any-
thing you would -expect to find
anywhere and are delightful by
virtue of th e flamboyant de-
sign and decoration.
All in all, it is the most en-
joyable show that I have seen
in town as far as I can recall.
It is well displayed, especially
given the limited space in the
gallery, and certainly should be
seen. The Gallery is open 10 to
5, Tuesday through Saturday,
and the show will continue un-
til the 20th of this month.
Paul
Geremia
has just
ieleased his
2nd album
and is back
to kick off
the summer
musical season
with
COUNTRY
BLUES
and
RAGTIME
0
NEXT WEEK:
Pam
Ostergreen

~

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