When the Nevada Clay Guild hosts an exhibit, be prepared to see more than traditional round bowls and vases. Members take the challenge to heart and enter only their best work.
The results can be seen in the fifth annual "Diversity in Clay" exhibit, which is on display at the Sahara West Library's gallery, 9600 W. Sahara Ave., through Feb. 5.
Guild president Gigi Marquart said each year the show's entries surprise and delight her.
"We have an amazing quality of work in our community," she said. "There are a lot of talented people here."
The show was juried by Jason Hess, associate professor of ceramics at Northern Arizona University, who has exhibited internationally. He said he decided which pieces made it into the show based on "form, function and surface. It was difficult and somewhat stressful to select the 65 or so entries for the exhibition."
His task proved challenging for a reason. Each year, entries for the show tend to test the limits of the craft. Not only are the shapes out of the ordinary, but special effects are achieved through varied firings, and glazes are manipulated for striking color changes depending on the light in which they are viewed. Interesting effects can be achieved with salts and soda firings.
Sometimes when ceramic artists want to use a certain technique, the result is not what was first intended.
"People practice and practice because they want to make a certain thing," Marquart said. "But sometimes the clay (dictates the direction) and takes you somewhere else. It's just one of those things."
Adam Swang knows the creative path well. He has worked with ceramics for roughly 20 years. An art teacher, he became a member of the Nevada Clay Guild five years ago. This is only the second time he has entered a piece for consideration in the annual show. Last year, his piece "Shipwreck" was included and elicited many positive comments in the viewer's book.
This year, Swang's entry was "Burden of Paradise," a 2-foot-tall piece depicting a mange-ridden dog with architectural pieces added to it.
"I wanted to contrast the ugliness and the beauty of (a place) in Indonesia, like a beautiful temple," he said. "There could be this ... beautiful temple and right next to it could be a trash dump and a mange-covered dog."
The Nevada Clay Guild sponsors the annual Empty Bowls event, which raises money to feed the needy. Guild members and friends donate handmade ceramic bowls. Attendees choose their own unique bowl and enjoy a luncheon of soup and bread, served in the bowl they chose. Afterward, they go home with the artistic bowl in which the soup was served.
Many people buy multiple bowls for gifts. Last year's event raised more than $30,000 to feed the hungry in Las Vegas. The next Empty Bowls benefit is slated from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 10 at Green Valley High School, 460 N. Arroyo Grande Blvd. in Henderson.
"Diversity in Clay" can be viewed during regular library hours from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
For more information about the Nevada Clay Guild, visit nevadaclayguild.org.
Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 387-2949.