Art as Activism: The Ceramics of Richard Wukich

January 17 - March 24, 2017
Opening Reception: January 20, 6-8 pm.

Take him or leave him, Richard Wukich is promoting art with a cause.  While the Jan. 17-March 24 exhibit began as a retrospective of his ceramics, an undercurrent of activism kept rising to the surface as conversations continually turned from art to social change. Throughout his career, Wukich has been promoting art as a means of empowering disadvantaged students, recognizing the contributions of arts educators, and providing clean water in third world countries.

In fact, the artist has asked that any proceeds from the sale of his work be donated to a local charity addressing hunger or similar issues. Thus the exhibition will not only include examples of his artistry over the last fifty years, but a selection of vessels for sale and a display of water filters. The water filter project is, perhaps, closest to Wukich’s heart.

As an international coordinator for Potters Water Action Group, he has worked to set up production studios across the globe in countries such as Haiti, Nigeria and Nepal.  Potters Water Action Group is an organization that strives to provide safe drinking water through education, research, development, and the dissemination of ceramic water filters.  These filters are made by combining clay with combustible materials such as sawdust, forming the mixture into a bell-shaped vessel, and firing it in a kiln. When contaminated water is poured into the finished filter, it percolates through the clay vessel and purified water drips out. The ceramic filters remove 95% of microbiological particulate matter in the water. If the filter is coated with colloidal silver, a natural anti-microbial that renders the disease causing agents inert, the efficacy of the filters increases to essentially 100 percent.  

A local chapter is now in the works for Slippery Rock. Last March, Wukich headed the 1st annual International Water Filter Conference at Slippery Rock University. A second conference is being planned for 2017.

A Braddock native, Wukich taught art at Slippery Rock University from 1968-2011.  He focused on ceramics, helping to develop a ceramics studio and the SRU Potters Guild. He received his BFA from Edinboro University and MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, studying under Val Cushing and Daniel Rhodes. Through Cushing, Wukich became involved in the National Council on Education in the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) annual conference.  He currently sits on the steering committee for the 2018 conference to take place in Pittsburgh on March 17, 2018.

Currently Wukich is working with former students to develop a social enterprise called the Slippery Rock Clayworks Collaborative in Grove City. The studio will offer classes and gallery space while raising an awareness of and support for social issues. A public reception is planned for January 20, 6-8 pm.

New Exhibits Explore Human Nature

Subway Angels & School Lunch

October 25-January 13
Opening Reception: Friday, October 28, 6-8 pm

School Lunch, Lisa DeLoria Weinblatt

School Lunch, Lisa DeLoria Weinblatt

Two new exhibits exploring the quirks of human nature will open in the Main Galleries, October 25-January 13, 2017.  Both artists are from New York City and share observations of their fellow New Yorkers in independent bodies of work.

Lisa DeLoria Weinblatt’s series, School Lunch, focuses on the shared narrative of the lunch room in contemporary student life. “The paintings present images concerning the nature and passions of the relationships between men and women,” says Weinblatt. “My goal is to create humanistic awareness in a framework (such as the lunchroom) which is universally recognized.”

Subway Angels, Don Perlis

Subway Angels, Don Perlis

Weinblatt graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BFA from Queens College, New York. She received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts, NYC in 1991. She has been awarded five Artist-In-Residence National Scholarships and exhibits broadly across the United States.

Don Perlis’ series, Subway Angels, draws its inspiration for the NYC subways, capturing the emotional, social, economic and cultural diversities of the riders.  Examples of other series demonstrate a similarly sharp observation of people passing through public places.

Perlis was educated at the Art Students League and The School of Visual Arts in New York, NY, and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, ME.  He has been included in numerous exhibitions and publications for more than 20 years and can be found in the collections of the Corcoron Gallery of Art, Washington DC; the National Academy Museum, New York, NY; and the Colby Museum of Art, Waterville, ME to name a few.


In the Blair Sculpture Walkway


"Trapped", Meghan Clemm

"Trapped", Meghan Clemm

MeghanClemm’s photography exhibition, Flicker, opens in the Blair Sculpture walkway, October 25-January 13, 2017. The images represent the spots of light that “illuminate beauty amidst great darkness” in one’s life. Clemm shared that the scenes might first appear to be bleak and foreboding, but even in such times of despair there is a hovering sense of wonder- of hope – unfolding. Clemm is a largely self-taught photographer whose images share the narrative quality of Wienblatt and Perlis.

Impulse to Form: Daniel Rhodes

Art & Education at the Hoyt will present an exhibition honoring the life and work of Daniel Rhodes August 3-October 23, 2016. It is the second major exhibit of his work since his death in 1989. Daniel Rhodes was an American ceramic artist, educator, sculptor, and author who spent his life gaining and sharing technical knowledge of glazes and pottery.

Considered a pioneer in the field, Daniel Rhodes lived and worked at the period when ceramics craft was shifting from a craft to a fine art. In fact, he was instrumental in promoting that shift with new methods and techniques that made it possible.  His experiential nature, for example, discovered that an infusion of fiberglass could increase the tensile strength of clay to create much larger work than clay alone would allow.

In 1962, Rhodes received a Fulbright Scholarship to live and work in Japan, Korea, and China.  His later work became heavily influenced by the simplicity and organic nature of Asian aesthetics, in particular Tamba Pottery, which he later popularized through his writings. Over his lifetime he published five books that shared his technical knowledge that are still commonly used today.

Rhodes was a teacher of ceramics at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University from 1947-1973, and their first graduate student. Although an intellectual, Rhodes is highly regarded by those who knew him for his kindness, friendship, and inspiration to generations of students to be celebrated in a corresponding exhibition of Alfred University Alumnae. A public reception is planned for Friday, August 5, 6-8 p.m. Admission is free.

Zimbicki’s Critters to Fill Blair Sculpture Walkway

Kathleen Zimbicki

May 10-July 30
Opening Reception May 13, 6-8 pm

Artist, teacher, gallery founder and arts advocate, Kathleen Zimbicki has devoted her career to creating and promoting the arts in the greater Pittsburgh region. While her formal training came from watercolorist Jospeh Shepler and Henry Koerner, her love for experimenting with subject, media and scale began in childhood.

Zimbicki grew up in an extraordinarily musical family in Washington County, PA. But she soon realized that trying to compete with her more musically talented siblings was “futile”, so she turned her energy to visual art. First in oils and acrylics, but later watercolors.

“Growing up in a small town with woodedareas on three sides, I had much time to play and dream,” she remembers. “I would draw or paint anything that was available."

Her love of plein air took root in the 1970s. “Plein air painting is evolving into more and more fantasy,” she said. “My creatures now might be called magical realism. The critters in woods, some scary, and the fanciful trees are not exactly the ones from my childhood, but they still haunt me – happily”

Zimbicki’s watercolors will be on display in the Blair Sculpture Walkway May 10-July 30. A public reception has been scheduled for May 13, 6-8 pm.