The gallery showcasing “Variations on a Theme” presents viewers with the charming and peculiar ceramic works of Priya Thoresen. Thorenson was selected as one of “Ceramics Monthly’s” Emerging Artists in 2018 and has an MFA from Arizona State University in Tempe. She currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she teaches part time at the University of Minnesota and Concordia University in Saint Paul.

Within the showcase are a variety of abstract sculptures with vivid colors that range from cubes to wall panels to tree-like structures and many other forms. What many of them share is a gridded element that lets the viewer look through them to a certain degree. Despite this commonality, they never get repetitive. Even two similar-looking pieces like “Yellow and Blue Round Thing” and “Blue and Yellow Round Thing” are still dynamic because of the arrangements of coils and the contrast between the uses of the colors. 

Though many of Thoresen’s sculptures take inspiration from plastic shopping baskets and the like, there is something personal about them. Rather than being mass produced, they are made by hand with midrange clay and Egyptian paste. The marks of her labor, such as imperfect lines and spirals, are left in by design. The colors applied to the forms, which are meant to be comparable to plastic, do not cover the sculptures perfectly. There are some places where bare clay peeks out or where the glaze has bumps. In her artistic statements she plainly says “I seek to contrast and balance my control and intentions for working with the material of clay with the organic and unexpected results of the firing process.” Because of this, no shape is perfect and that adds to the originality and uniqueness of the art.

Not only does this show that these aren’t artificial, but the art itself has personality. Whether or not one takes interest in ceramics, taking a look at this showcase would be a satisfactory use of time. There is a tactility to the mere sight of the art as well as an element of them being natural and authentic that anyone can appreciate.

“Variations on a Theme” will be in Gallery 610 until April 3rd.

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