Three Museums across the Country / by Layl McDill

I recently went to three amazing shows in three states: Ohio, Florida and Minnesota.  I feel so lucky that I get to travel and see so much inspirational art everywhere I go.  I saw spectacular glass work at the Toledo Art Museum's Glass Pavilion at a show titled "Fired Up: Contemporary Glass by Women Artists."  I was overwhelmed by ceramics at the Boca Raton Museum of Art at the show "Regarding George Ohr: Contemporary Ceramics in the Spirit of the Mad Potter."  Then back home at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, I was stunned by the show "Power and Beauty in China’s Last Dynasty: Concept and Design by Robert Wilson."

In Toledo, the glass work included many types of glass techniques which I had never seen before, some of which could be transferred over to polymer clay.  Especially this glass thread bowl by Toots Zynsky.  I have layered threads of clay before but not in as much mass or with such color control as this, so who knows what I can do on, say a teapot, if I layered threads to this extreme. 

 Toots Zynsky's Vessel at the Toledo Art Museum

Toots Zynsky's Vessel at the Toledo Art Museum

There is something about seeing pieces like this in real life as opposed to just as an flat image seen online. Especially when it comes to amazing three-dimensional pieces that have something going on at every angle.  The piece "Beauty and Drama" by Ginny Ruffner has so much action and personality.  I was excited about the way she added "drawings of faces" to her sculptures which is similar to what I have been playing around with but not as dimensionally as Ruffner has taken the concept. 

Ginny Ruffner Beauty as Drama #141-52.jpg

While traveling from one art fair to another I was able to stop in Boca Raton to go to the show featuring ceramic artists that were influenced by George Ohr. Now these artist's work are going to be influencing me!  It's probably not hard to see how the sculptures by the Haas Brothers can relate to my layering of polymer clay.  It made me think more about attempting to be more "monochromatic" with some of my pieces.  

 The Haas Brothers

The Haas Brothers

Glenn Barkley's piece "Melancholic Vase" also has an inspirational monochomatic texture that I can see applying to my teapots. 

 Glenn Barkley

Glenn Barkley

When I returned to Minneapolis I couldn't wait to see the special exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.  This show is multi-sensory and a true experience which I won't describe too much in detail because you really have to go to it and hear, see and even smell it!  There are 10 rooms in which a different feeling is evoked through installations of ancient art from the Qing dynasty.  The second room was an inspiration overload for me.  I felt like I could stay there drawing for hours on end.  All the treasures are placed in a cube which is viewed through a wire grid.  I did half a dozen loose sketches which I will go back to and doodle over.

 Qing Vase on display at "Power and Beauty in China's Last Dynasty"

Qing Vase on display at "Power and Beauty in China's Last Dynasty"

After experiencing all these museums in the last month I am bursting with a feeling of wonderment that sets me up to see even my ordinary daily life as filled with inspiration.  After visiting the Minneapolis Institute of Art I found myself looking around my dining room and seeing the objects I have collected in a new light.  Back in the studio I created a series of pieces on mirrors which were fed by the new visuals I have taken in, both at the museums and in my daily life.  It's so essential for an artist to keep adding to the "soup" of images and textures and experiences of your imagination.

 "Plant in the Window" by Layl McDill

"Plant in the Window" by Layl McDill