Evermore: Pattern & Process, Epsten Gallery, Overland Park, KS, 2008 - 2009


I presented four new pieces in the exhibition Evermore: Pattern & Process. Curated by Marcus Cain at the Epsten Gallery, Overland Park, KS, Evermore was on view from November 16, 2008 through January 25, 2009. The exhibition received an excellent review by Sarah Mote in the Kansas City Star and I was featured in a KCUR FM 89.3  (a Kansas City NPR station) radio interview with Marcus Cain and Laura Spencer, an arts reporter.

Statement for Landscape I, II, III, IV

Landscape is a four-part artwork made of glazed ceramic tiles whose tessellating patterns are, for me, reminiscent of multiple sources in the world – honeycombs, turtle shells, diagrams of DNA molecules, and architectural tiled pavements and roofs. The Alhambra Palace in Spain and Hungarian Zsolnay tiles are particularly influential. In Landscape, I am evolving ideas I have been exploring – specifically ornament, decoration, and the representation of natural forms – into new ways of presentation.

The tile formations in Landscape are staged horizontally on round discs at various heights from the gallery floor. Most of my work with tile has been made for the wall; this horizontal presentation creates a relationship to the ground or to a map. The employment of various heights of the individual tiles, and the crevices and cracks in their surface, suggests a further relationship to landscape via topography.

The constant driving element as I produced this work was the shapes of the tiles and the structure created by their tessellation. In flux as I made decisions were the varying heights of the tiles and their surface color and texture. The structure provided by the tiles’ shapes opened a path; the relief, color, and texture provided direction for me to realize the final arrangements for the tiles.

Light reflectivity and transmission, hue, and texture are qualities I look for in the ceramic surface. Some ways I describe these traits include words like shiny, wet, satin, sugar, crystal, matte, transparent, translucent, opaque, fluid, fat, and crawl. I’m interested in the ways these features affect perception of the glaze color, in particular how light and texture affect colors’ responses to each other.

There is a tension I want to find between an abstracted reference to landscape and the ordered and beautiful aspects of ornament in everyday and special objects. The tiles are arranged in medallion shapes with repeated patterns that are symmetrical. My aim is that the decorative aspects appeal to tactile memory and sensory experience, and landscape to a sense of space and environment.

Podcast from the KCUR interview

To hear the podcast of my radio interview, click here.

Kansas City Star review

Here is an excerpt from Sarah Mote’s review, Patterns at Play, in the arts section of the Kansas City Star, January 4, 2009:

“But it’s Kansas City’s Cary Esser who grounds the exhibition, literally and conceptually.  Occupying the center of the gallery, Esser’s luscious tiled landscapes join the show’s individual works, calling out their symmetry and irregularity, their geometry and their spontaneity, their reach into the future and their anchor to the past.  Like a mini-Giant’s Causeway built by the mythic giant Finn McCool, Esser’s hexagonal tiles create a bridge between artists, extending and elegant invitation of pattern, texture, and design.”

Craft in America, Episode V: Process

On October 7, 2009 PBS aired Craft in America Episode V:Process, a documentary featuring myself, my colleagues George Timock and Victor Babu, many of our recent students from the KCAI ceramics department, and alumnae Nikki Lewis (BFA ‘00).

Here are some videos that were not in the final cut of the Craft in America documentary on PBS.

Craft in America Exhibition

I was included in the exhibition Craft in America:Expanding Traditions, which traveled to several venues across the United States from 2007 to 2009, including the Mingei International Museum in San Diego and the Cranbrook Art Museum on Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Craft in America Artist Page

Click HERE to see my page on the Craft in America website, including a video of my press molding method.


Kansas City Flat Files, H&R Block Artspace, Kansas City, MO, 2008

In January 2008 I exhibited nine works on paper in the Flat Files exhibition at the H & R Block Artspace in Kansas City, MO.

Included Works

The works on paper shown below are made using glass paints, pencil, and monoprint transfers onto Bristol board. All works were shown in the Flat Files exhibition.

The Exhibition

The H & R Block Artspace descibes the Flat Files exhibition on their web page as follows:

“………the Kansas City Flatfile is a unique biennial invitational exhibition featuring a large range of art work by emerging and established Kansas City artists. The Kansas City Flatfile includes 2-dimensionsional work in all media, including drawing, photography, prints, paintings and mixed media works on paper, all housed in individual portfolios enclosed in flatfile cabinets. Visitors are invited to browse the files and handle the work wearing white gloves, offering a unique and personal viewing experience. [...] Throughout the exhibition, guest curators from the Kansas City area and surrounding region are invited to curate temporary salon-style presentations in the gallery from the flatfiles. Within the context of a gallery exhibition, the Kansas City Flatfile has a studio-like characteristic for the participating artists and the public, encouraging a natural exchange of ideas and practices through a hands-on approach.”

KCAI: Then and Now

Open from May 1-31, 2009 at Red Star Studios Ceramic Center, KCAI: Then and Now represented numerous KCAI graduates who helped shape the changing world of contemporary ceramics.

Statement for work presented in KCAI: Then and Now

Architectural tile and terra cotta offer me a visual world to explore the language of ornament. Motifs of interest include plants and animals, geometric patterns, and shields. They are a connection between our domesticated environments and the enigmatic, unpredictable aspects of nature. For centuries these motifs have been recycled and reinterpreted from the viewpoints of many cultures. My work for several years has revisited the forms and knowledge of this language. I use the traditions of embellishment on buildings to interpret human culture and the natural world.

I use clay for its ability to create mass and bas-relief, for its substance and warmth, and its relationship to human history and shelter. Earthen material from the landscape is also our habitat and decor. For my ceramic surfaces, I want qualities of light reflectivity and transmission, hue, saturation, and texture. Some ways to describe these traits include words like shiny, wet, satin, sugar, crystal, matte, transparent, translucent, opaque, fluid, fat, and crawl. I’m interested in how these features affect perception of surface – how light and texture affect colors’ responses to each other. I’m also curious how they may activate our desire to touch them.

The works presented in KCAI: Then and Now are direct offshoots of a recent series titled Landscape. Landscape is a four-part artwork made of glazed mosaics whose tessellating patterns are reminiscent of multiple sources in the world – honeycombs, turtle shells, diagrams of DNA molecules, and architectural tiled pavements and roofs. These compositions of tile are both aerial and cellular.

The tabletop pieces displayed here offer a moment of concentrated texture and color in ceramic that is liquid and solid.