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Pottery from fictional company and therapist's paintings in two new shows

Melissa Mitchell, U. of I. News Bureau arts writer 217-333-5491
Mary Antonakos, I space coordinator 312-587-9976

gourd by pilcher
Click photo to enlarge

Don Pilcher
Ceramic
"Rascal Ware"

painting by marks
Click photo to enlarge

Mari Marks
Encausting painting
"Sedimentary Series, Terra"

Released 10/16/2007

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Ceramic pieces created by imaginary employees of a make-believe pottery company and encaustic paintings by an art therapist will be featured in two exhibitions Oct. 19 through Dec. 1 at I space, the Chicago gallery of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:

• “Don Pilcher: Rascal Ware” will give gallery-goers a glimpse into the creative mind of the artist, who taught for many years in the U. of I.’s School of Art and Design. The exhibition focuses on a body of work Pilcher has been making since 2002, which includes vessels and sculptures produced at the fictional Rascal Ware Pottery company by an assortment of characters – among them, Junior Bucks and Hairy Potter.

The project is conceived as both a ceramic and literary expression. Pilcher himself is a character in the Rascal Ware narrative, and the text and art are always presented together. “The narrative at Rascal Ware is actually my biography, with some exaggerations, and the prose is an attempt at comment, humor, irony and some half-baked philosophy,” he said.

• “Mari Marks: Sedimentary Series, Terra” consists of a dozen 12-foot-square encaustic paintings created using a cyclic process in which layer after layer of hot wax is applied, allowed to dry, then scraped or otherwise augmented. Marks compares the layering process in her art – with its complex, variable terrain – to what occurred as Earth’s crust was formed. Her references to the number 12 and the natural world are not coincidental, as she observes that “in metaphysics, 12 describes life-giving forces,” and “structures and interpretations of 12 permeate the natural world.” Bringing into play her sensibilities as an art therapist, Marks also intends for the work and its process to have healing and spiritual qualities.

An opening reception is scheduled from 5-7 p.m. on Oct. 19 at the gallery, 230 W. Superior St., Chicago. I space gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.