George School’s ceramics teacher, Amedeo Salamoni, and alumna Claire Schmucker ’20 contributed to works exhibited as part of the Clay Arts Vegas Collaborative International Exhibition, a travelling exhibit currently on display at the University of North Dakota en route to Auckland, New Zealand. You can access the virtual exhibit by clicking here. The excellent work Amedeo and Clare have produced serves as another encouraging reminder of how engaged the George School community remains in the arts despite the challenges of the pandemic.
Collaboration is central to this exhibit, which was coordinated by Clay Arts Vegas. The idea of the exhibit was to bring different communities together by pairing Las Vegas ceramics artists with partners from locales around the globe, including France, Australia, Thailand, and many US states. The show’s curatorial statement expresses the idea of collaboration as an essential form of dialogue through the arts: “Collaboration can have many meanings, from working on one piece that they sent back and forth, to making pieces that interlocked together, to just sharing a common idea and each creating their own work on a topic. We feel that the most important part of understanding others is conversation and sharing. How better to do this than to make art together?”
Claire and Amedeo were invited to participate in the show by the owners of Clay Arts Vegas, Peter Jakubowski and Thomas Bumblaukas. Several years ago, Peter, who is a personal friend of Amedeo, had a sojourn as a visiting artist at George School. During this time he met Claire, then an advanced ceramics student, and was impressed by her artistry. When Amedeo came to mind as a potential collaborator, they naturally thought of Claire too.
Amedeo was paired with Peter. With many years of friendship under their belts, they knew that that, aside from making pottery, cooking was another activity that they were both fond of. This led to them creatimg serving platters. Amedeo’s platter is the lighter colored piece in the foreground. After they made the pieces, they sent each other pictures of them and then each artist made a “pouring vessel” inspired by the other’s platter for the sauce. Amedeo’s pouring vessel is the one on the left, with the spiral handle that matches Peter’s serving platter. “Peter and I plan on getting together after this traveling show to cook our favorite dishes and serve them in our creations,” added Amedeo.
Claire was pared with Vegas-based artist Jennifer Gorman. As they got to know each other, it emerged that Jennifer, a math professor, takes a more geometric approach, while Claire tends to work with more organic shapes inspired by her interest in the environment. They brought both of their styles into dialogue by creating pieces that could be displayed as separate halves or come together as one piece. Jen started the process off by creating her halves and then sending them to Claire, who mirrored them while bringing in more organic touches. Claire’s halves are the taller pieces on the left on the picture from the exhibit and on the right in the other pictures of her collaborative piece. Claire explained that “the textures and flashings that you see in the final pieces are a result of the flame and wood ash interacting with the clay during the firing.”
Claire reflected on the unique nature of this collaborative process. “I am drawn to so many different styles of ceramics and get inspired by different artists and their practices. The idea of being able to work with someone, bounce ideas off of them, and ultimately create a piece that brings together the minds of two artists got me excited,” she explained. She added that she was “also inspired by the challenge of navigating collaboration through long distance. The fact that the pieces would be in a traveling show, made it even more exciting. Not only are the two artists collaborating on their respective pieces, but a wide range of diverse viewers are also able to collaborate in viewing the artwork.” Thanks to technology, we all have the opportunity to view the virtual exhibit and become partners in this collaborative viewing!