PONDERINGS

ALPHABETICALLY ARRANGED

A GREAT, GREAT PEACE EXTINGUISHER

Polychromed Ceramics / Plastic / Chain / Copper Rods

47”hx16”x19”

Aligning each of Trump’s outrageous edicts next to biblical verses seems to sum up the incongruity of the moment.  How can the Evangelical Religious Right call this president the “chosen one” in light of his rhetoric that contradicts the whole Jesus premise of peace and justice. Extracted from the internet, please allow yourself the opportunity to be confused...

Trump: “I WILL BUILD A GREAT, GREAT WALL ON OUR SOUTHERN BORDER, AND I WILL MAKE MEXICO PAY FOR THAT WALL.” 

Jesus: “LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

Trump: “WHEN PEOPLE WRONG YOU, GO AFTER THOSE PEOPLE, BECAUSE IT IS A GOOD FEELING AND BECAUSE OTHER PEOPLE WILL SEE YOU DOING IT.  I ALWAYS GET EVEN.”

Jesus: “LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, DO GOOD TO THOSE WHO HATE YOU, BLESS THOSE WHO CURSE YOU.”  

         

Trump: “I’M PUTTING PEOPLE ON NOTICE THAT ARE COMING HERE FROM SYRIA AS PART OF THIS MASS MIGRATION, THAT IF I WIN, THEY’RE GOING BACK!” 

Jesus: “I WAS HUNGRY AND YOU GAVE ME SOMETHING TO EAT, I WAS THIRSTY AND YOU GAVE ME SOMETHING TO DRINK, I WAS A STRANGER AND YOU INVITED ME IN.”

 

Trump: “SORRY LOSERS AND HATERS, BUT MY I.Q. IS ONE OF THE HIGHEST – AND YOU ALL KNOW IT!  PLEASE DON’T FEEL STUPID OR INSECURE, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.” 

Jesus: “THOSE WHO EXALT THEMSELVES WILL BE HUMBLED, AND THOSE WHO HUMBLE THEMSELVES WILL BE EXALTED.”  

Trump: “WHY DO I HAVE TO REPENT, WHY DO I HAVE TO ASK FOR FORGIVENESS IF I’M NOT MAKING MISTAKES?” 

Jesus: “I HAVE NOT COME TO CALL THE RIGHTEOUS, BUT SINNERS TO REPENTANCE.”     

 

Trump: “I’M IN TOTAL SUPPORT OF WATERBOARDING.  IT HAS TO BE WITHIN THE LAW, BUT I HAVE TO EXPAND THE LAW.” 

Jesus: “BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL, FOR THEY WILL BE SHOWN MERCY.”   

 

Trump: “I FULLY THINK APOLOGIZING IS A GREAT THING. BUT YOU HAVE TO BE WRONG… I WILL ABSOLUTELY APOLOGIZE SOMETIME IN THE HOPEFULLY DISTANT FUTURE IF I’M EVER WRONG.” 

Jesus: “BLESSED ARE THE MEEK, FOR THEY WILL INHERIT THE EARTH.”

 

Trump: “I COULD STAND IN THE MIDDLE OF FIFTH AVENUE AND SHOOT SOMEBODY AND WOULDN’T LOSE VOTERS.” 

Jesus: “BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS, FOR THEY WILL BE CALLED CHILDREN OF GOD.” 

Trump: “PART OF THE BEAUTY OF ME IS THAT I’M VERY RICH.”   

Jesus: “DO NOT STORE UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES ON EARTH… FOR WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS, THERE YOUR HEART WILL BE ALSO.”

 

Trump: “WHEN I DRINK MY LITTLE WINE… AND HAVE MY LITTLE CRACKER, I GUESS THAT IS A FORM OF ASKING FORGIVENESS.” 

Jesus: “THIS IS MY BODY GIVEN FOR YOU; DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME.”

 

But perhaps the most revealing component of this piece is the card-catalog rods, retrieved from a library, piercing his tiny heart in an effort to reflect upon his 4th grade level of grammar and thinking.  This artwork debuted in Stuttgart, Germany in 2018 for a peace-themed group exhibition composed of visual and literary artists.  Available for Purchase

 

ALTARPIECE

Pit-Fired Ceramics 

64”hx18”x17”

According to the biblical account, when confronted by the opposition Peter denied knowing Christ three times.  After the third denial the rooster crowed and served to remind him of his failure. 

 For us, and for Peter, the rooster serves as a wake-up call to our own fallibility as well as a “conscience calibrator” to keep us in sync with our true intent.  In our life journey, the rooster should be welcomed as a friend who alerts those who stray from the path by offering gentle reminders and second chances.  At the table of grace we are able to reflect on the power of forgiveness and the freedom it brings.  To be sure, I often hear the rooster, but perhaps Rumi has a clarifying perspective …”there are no failures – just experiences and your reactions to them.” Collection of Omar Eby.

 

 

AMERICAN TEA PARTY

Low-Fired Ceramics / Wood / Scripture

50”hx16”x12”

In 2009, a conservative political movement emerged in America known as the “Tea Party” with intentions to force legislation that would inadvertently discriminate against various groups of individuals in our nation.  Most curiously, the Evangelical Right jumped on board and appeared to target groups that included minorities, women, and the LGBTQ community.  Of particular concern, they used scripture to back their discriminatory rationale.  I have correlated their maligned stance as identified through the scripture-clad, wobbly legs of the stand that surround the three most-persecuted groups, which hang beneath the table.  There are “holes in this theory” of abuse as seen in the tea set… it just doesn’t hold water. This work was juried into the 2017 West Virginia Biennial Exhibition.   Available for Purchase

 

APPALACHIAN LOCKDOWN

Low-Fired Ceramics / Wood

34”hx30”x8”

As a fringe resident of Appalachia for decades, I have witnessed the abuse and manipulation of the people by big-business, as well as the government.  The land was timbered mercilessly, the coal industry decimated the environment, and now fracking for gas wells is compromising the waters.  The variety of terrain in Appalachia is best suited for the clean options of hydro, solar, and wind energy production. What gives? Poverty and lack of education can play tricks on the mind. It's a "tried and true" method of control for the leaders to keep the masses uneducated and Appalachia is a good example of this.  This work was juried into the 2011 West Virginia Biennial Exhibition.  Available for Purchase

 

 

BUSH WHACKER

Polychromed Ceramics

24”hx24”x24”

The George W. Bush administration offered up so much fodder for my art, and this was one of them... a life-size lawnmower spewing out blades with data recording the injuries and casualties in Iraq that happened under his watch.  The problem that I encountered with the Bush era involves the contradictory messages sent from the broader Mennonite church in support of his presidency.  This conundrum forced me to step back and view religion in a different way, to the point of adopting the verbiage... "The pursuit of god is lost in religion."   Collection of Aaron Anslow.

 

CASTING STONES

Polychromed Ceramics

16”hx44”wx96”d

It seems to me that churches have been the least open and affirming in regard to the acceptance of same-sex relationships.  The institution that pretends to promote peace and love, instead casts opinions over the proper way to condemn, and ostracize.  I remember the day it dawned on me that more arguments and wars have been fought over religious issues than any other topic. And in this case in particular, …we’re talking about the proper way to LOVE, for god’s sake.  Available for Purchase

 

CHANGING PATTERNS

Polychromed Ceramics / Sewing Patterns / Metal

54”hx44”wx12”d

The role of women in our culture has been changing throughout my lifetime… hopefully for the better.  Traditional roles previously defined by society as appropriate for women have expanded…hence the welder’s mask hanging above a torso of a pregnant woman, covered with sewing patterns.  These dress patterns were used by my wife to make clothing for our daughters and  I am so fortunate to have been enlightened and sensitized by three daughters!  Unavailable.

 

EMPTY VOTES

Low-Fired Ceramics

42”hx 18”x16”

Completed while enjoying an art residency at the Lee Art Center in Arlington, Virginia, this piece was inspired by the political climate endured during the Bush administration.  We continue to suffer from the Electoral College system where only a few select swing-states decide the election.  For example, while living in West Virginia, my vote was an “Empty Vote.” And in this totem, the caged teapot is unable to service the teacups.... Irreconcilable Differences, so-to-speak.  Please, oh please, can we switch to a popular vote?   Collection of Cliff Treasner.

 

 

FRAY

Glaze Ingredients

9”wx14”h (each)

As a ceramic artist, having a show in Germany posed significant shipping issues so I decided to create mono-prints using glaze ingredients as “ink.” It was interesting and different for me.  Our group exhibition was displayed in two venues.  While visiting during the second show the gallery director pointed out my work and asked, “do you know whose artwork hung in that exact spot before yours?… Joseph Beuys.”  I liked that!  Available for Purchase

 

 

GRAB ‘EM BY THE PUSSYCAT

Polychromed Ceramics

17”hx14”x12”

This ceramic sculpture was created in direct response to Trump’s Billy Bush conversation, referred to as the “Access Hollywood” tape, this was one of his captured remarks… “You can do anything.  Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”  

 

With that comment, Trump made it acceptable to say “pussy” in public… away from the “locker room”, so-to-speak.  In this sentiment, Trump has made it acceptable to lie, swindle, cheat, belittle others, and “Make America Hate Again” with his racist, bigoted, and misogynistic rhetoric.

 

To be sure, this artwork has a comical feel, and it’s supposed to!  From the symbolic “orange haired” cat, to the exaggerated facial expression, this pussycat is intended to shout out, “are you shitting me? …this can’t be real!”  The “black hole” in the frying pan is the abyss that we are headed towards.  And the frying pan itself represents the “heated mess” that we’re all in… including Trump who will soon have things turn on him like the handle of the skillet that will be shoved up his ass.  The chain, which he will eventually hang himself with, is exactly four feet long to signal the four years in office.

 

In what other era of American history would it be acceptable for a presidential candidate to say “grab them by the pussy” and still get elected? In this unbelievable scenario of events, it seems clear to me that the artists of the day are responsible to call-out the truth.  Hopefully this truth will “set us free” of all that Trump represents.  Collection of Michael X Ryan

 

 

HALLELUJAH TEAPOT

High-Fired Ceramics

16”hx 11”x8”

Designed to convey a sense of sculpture in functional pottery! The concept behind the “Hallelujah Teapot” series is the notion of flailing one’s arms in the air as if divinely inspired.  Available for Purchase

 

 

HALLELUJAH TEAPOT

High-Fired Ceramics

16”hx 11”x8”

Designed to convey a sense of sculpture in functional pottery! The concept behind the “Hallelujah Teapot” series is the notion of flailing one’s arms in the air as if divinely inspired.  Available for Purchase

 

 

HALLELUJAH TEAPOT w/ CUPS

High-Fired Ceramics

18”hx 18”wx8”d

Designed to convey a sense of sculpture in functional pottery! The concept behind the “Hallelujah Teapot” series is the notion of flailing one’s arms in the air as if divinely inspired.  Unavailable 

 

 

HALLELUJAH TEAPOT

Raku-Fired Ceramics

17”hx11”x8”

Agreed!  I’m a bit amazed that it made it through a raku firing also!

Unavailable  

 

 

HALLELUJAH TEAPOT

Raku-Fired Ceramics

17”hx11”x8”

This was in a show in Kentucky that Walter Hyleck juried…and he bought it! That made me so happy!  Unavailable 

 

 

HALLELUJAH TEAPOT

High-Fired Ceramics

17”hx16”x8”

Designed to convey a sense of sculpture in functional pottery! The concept behind the “Hallelujah Teapot” series is the notion of flailing one’s arms in the air as if divinely inspired.  Unavailable 

 

HOLY COMMUNION

Low-Fired Ceramics

44”hx 17”x17”

The chalice, as the ultimate symbol of community in the Christian church, is desperately apart from the sustenance that fills the cup.  Infighting and difference-of-opinion over protocol and particulars has caused splits and divides to the tune of thousands of denominations. Is it possible to argue more over how to worship?

Collection of Brescia University.

HOOK, LYING, AND SINKER

Low-Fired Ceramics

56”hx18”x16”

I remember thinking, “okay, I can forgive the people who voted for George W. Bush the first time around, but there’s no possible way they can fall for it again.”  As therapy to deal with the fact that he won a second term, I created this piece which is intended to reflect the trickery employed by politicians to secure the vote. On this “fishing pole” are fifty-one harpooned fish representing the percentage of voters who took the bait, were lured-in by shiny objects, and hooked for another four years.  To date, this is my most significant piece, having won the $5000 Governor’s Award and subsequently placed in the collection of the West Virginia State Museum at the Cultural Center

 

 

INSTRUMENTAL MARY

Polychromed Ceramics

42”hx 18”x16”

While displayed at Old Dominion University in a Two-Person Exhibition, a gentleman approached me and sought an explanation regarding this piece. I revealed to him that I had taught at a Catholic college in Kentucky and was awarded a grant to create a series of artworks to “Compare Catholic and Mennonite Beliefs.”  In this particular case, one of the glaring differences was the reverence that the Catholic tradition afforded to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and how instrumental she was in helping to define the larger picture in regard to women’s roles in the church.  Having three daughters of my own, this revelation and new perspective proved to be invaluable. “Okay,” the gentleman said. “I’ll buy it.  I just didn’t want the sculpture if it was disrespectful in any way.”  

Unavailable

 

 

LAUGHING TEAPOT

High-Fired Ceramics

15”hx8”x5”

If you’ve ever thrown your head back and roared with laughter, this may be the teapot for you!  It’s even functional! And a lot of fun too!

Available for Purchase

 

 

LAUGHING TEAPOT

High-Fired Ceramics

15”hx8”x5”

If you’ve ever thrown your head back and roared with laughter, this may be the teapot for you!  It’s even functional! And a lot of fun too!

Unavailable 

 

 

LAUGHING TEAPOT w/Cups and Walnut Stand

High-Fired Ceramics

15”hx8”x5”

This award-winning set has all the qualities of a typical “Laughing Teapot” but with an elegant twist…hanging teacups on a walnut stand.  A neighbor’s father offered me rough-sawn walnut planks one day and I graciously accepted!  Available for Purchase

 

 

LAUGHING TEAPOT

High-Fired Ceramics

11”hx8”x5”

An early “Laughing Teapot” that seems more reserved and less daring than what I’ve been making currently.  But every idea has a beginning and an end!  Unavailable 

 

LAUGHING TEAPOT

High-Fired Ceramics

10”hx8”x5”

Whoa!  This one is hardly laughing!  Unavailable

 

 

#MeToo

Oil on Canvas / Vintage Quilt Pieces / Found Object

40”hx22”w

Unfortunately, the #MeToo Movement has been a part of humanity since antiquity and not much has changed over the course of time. These 100-year-old quilt pieces were gathered from an elderly friend, Pearl Hartley. The use of quilt patterns resonated because of my upbringing in the Mennonite tradition, however no venue is free of harassment, and religion often facilitates under the guise of a safe haven.  This work was juried into the 2019 West Virginia Biennial Exhibition.

Available for Purchase

PREEMPTIVE STRIKE

Polychromed Ceramics

48”hx48”x48”

When the Bushwhacker decided to start a conflict in the Middle East, he rationalized it by calling it a “preemptive strike” against would-be villains. The “strike” that I created is a mix between bowling-related items and peace jargon.  Every scripture in the Bible where the word “peace” is mentioned is written on the bowling ball…and one-thousand strikes or marks adorn the warning cones. But of course, the strike is unobtainable because the pins are lodged atop and out-of-reach, a true objective of peace.  The use of fear-tactics always helps too, as seen in the “Terror Alert” cones surrounding the central core.  Available for Purchase

 

ROAD WEAVERS

Low-Fired Ceramics / Wood

32”hx 24”x12”

My daughter, Anda, and I embarked on a cross-country bicycle trip in the Spring of 2010, but only made it to Arkansas.  It was still an experience of discovery as we battled against the elements and vehicles.  I’m not sure we were prepared for the beasts we encountered, both physical and emotional.  Available for Purchase

 

 

ROYAL FLUSH

Low-Fired Ceramics

42”hx28”wx16”d

The “Royal Flush” is by far the most controversial piece I’ve ever created.  I was somewhat surprised by the fact that there was such a political divide but astonished that peace-loving Mennonites were backing a war-monger president. After exhibiting this piece at Eastern Mennonite University, I received hate-mail and vicious editorials in the local newspaper for three months, and some positive support as well.  Several women approached me and stated that I was discriminating against them.  “How so,” I asked.  “It’s difficult for us to piss in a urinal,” they said. 

Collection of Kevin Cole

 

SITTING DUCK

Low-Fired Ceramics / Copper Wire

38”hx14”x12”

This theme of “fowl” started appearing in my work after my department chair, Sister Mary Diane, expressed to me that I reminded her of a duck…. “calm and unruffled on the surface, but paddling like crazy underneath.”  I can accept that!

Available for Purchase

 

 

SLIP SLIDING

Plywood

96”hx96”wx16”d

My first outdoor sculpture…now deceased.

 

SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT

Polychromed Ceramics / Wood

12”hx38”x32”

What the hell went on in Charlottesville, Virginia? And worse yet, Trump had words of affirmation for the white supremacists!  I asked Larry, an African-American friend of mine, whether or not he thought the current administration had allowed latent racism to surface.  “It was never latent to me,” he said.  As an international symbol of hate, let’s cut the confederate flag up once and for all.  Available for Purchase

 

 

THE RIDE

Low-Fired Ceramics

22”hx18”x16”

The central feature of a larger work titled “Warning Signs,” this piece is an extension of the “pussycat” series…the unbelievably incongruent and unexplainable practices of the current administration as defined by this non-sensical beast.

 

 

TRUTH WIELDER

Polychromed Ceramics / Wood / Decals

96”hx48”wx16”d

Our belief structure is based on a series of "truths" presented to us by our parents, our religion, and our teachers. We receive these "truths" tainted with a personal agenda from each sender. It is our responsibility to spend the rest of our lives sifting through the minutia to determine our own path -- to see the light -- to define our own truth.  Truth Wielder is intended to illuminate some of the inconsistencies that pervaded the religious teachings of our youth.  It is interesting to look back and discover how we were directed down certain paths according to our particular church dogma. As many churches confront the topic of boldly stating a commitment to being “open and affirming” toward the gay community, it behooves me to bring to light an attempt to ascertain the truth, by uncovering the shielded perspective of our particular upbringing and determine a more lucid path.  

Collection of West Virginia State Museum at the Cultural Center - $2000 AWARD OF EXCELLENCE - 2011 West Virginia Juried Art Show.

 

 

UNDER PRESSURE

Low-Fired Ceramics

30”hx22”x16”

One of my all-time favorites, it speaks to the stress and sacrifices that are encountered every single day, in one way or another.  When this piece was exhibited at The University of South Carolina - Upstate, the gallery director asked if the medium was ceramics and steel.  “One-hundred percent ceramics,” I said!  Available for Purchase

 

WARNING SIGNS

Low-Fired Ceramics

72”hx24”x24”

Inspired by the precarious political situation in which our country has seemingly embraced, the "warning signs" keep accumulating. Dead canaries are signs of a toxic atmosphere in the coal mines. Caged by circumstances, we are faced with forty-five presidential bones of contention, hooked and grabbed by a monster pussycat with the trap awaiting.  We are definitely being taken for a ride on the roller coaster from hell as Trump normalizes the abnormal!  Available for Purchase

 

 

WHEELING FEELING

Found Objects

82”hx 18”x16”

Created for an invitational exhibition at the Wheeling Artisan Center to celebrate Wheeling’s 250th Anniversary, “The Wheeling Feeling” is largely composed of found objects from the Upper Ohio Valley.  The core component is a disassembled piano but the featured “relic” is a dead bird found in the bell tower of the now defunct Mount deChantal Visitation Academy.  This mix of elements is intended to reflect on the city’s vibrant past, slow death, and attempts at recovery.  Available for Purchase

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