Ceramics exhibit highlights human qualities in producing art

CHEYENNE, Wyoming – Ceramics that showcase pottery-making processes and the experiential qualities of working in the art studio will be featured in the Esther and John Clay Fine Art Gallery this summer at Laramie County Community College. 

For the last 18 years, Michael Lemke has been a University of Northern Colorado art professor, previously teaching high school and working as a full-time potter. The exhibit he brings to LCCC will give viewers the feeling of working with clay. 

Evidence of roll, stamp and slip textures can be seen in the pottery. Throwing rings are left on the insides while Lemke takes care to compress the exterior with a metal rib. He carefully crafts the foot rim while throwing, or keeps the piece wet while trimming, which enables him to move the clay farther, showing the plasticity and adding playful individuality to each piece. 

“The tactile quality that I’m talking about is connected to the ability to understand how things work,” Lemke said. “For example, when I attach a handle, I want it to look finished and professional, but I also want people to be able to tell that it’s a separate piece of clay that was added. That way you can see this person was there and it illuminates the process.” 

The pottery in the LCCC exhibit also includes features reminiscent of marine life, such as sea shells, octopi and coral. Dots on many of the pieces are reflective of a family trip to Hawaii where Lemke’s father dove deep underwater to retrieve a shell with similar features. 

“Marine life is another passion of mine, so including textures and colors that refer to the coral reef is a natural fit for my work,” Lemke said.

The art exhibition will be on display from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday-Friday from June 17 - Aug. 4 in the Esther and John Clay Fine Art Gallery at LCCC’s Cheyenne campus. An opening reception is set from 6-7:30 p.m. on June 30.  

For more information about Lemke’s exhibition or the Esther and John Clay Fine Art Gallery, contact Daniel Maw at dmaw@lccc.wy.edu or 307.432.1692.