Sunday, April 14, 2024

The Clay Chronicles: Ian M. Petrie Brings Pottery & Comics to the Romano Gallery

PRESS RELEASE: BLAIRSTOWN, N.J. – Visual artist and ceramicist Ian M. Petrie’s delightfully inviting pieces belie a depth of meaning revealed only through how each viewer chooses to approach his work. Members of the Blair community are invited to take part in their own interpretation of his pieces included in the Romano Gallery exhibit “Spoiler Alert,” on display from March 26 to April 27 in the Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts. Petrie will be on campus March 28 to speak with students about his work and his career.

Employing two seemingly unrelated media in his artwork—comic strips and ceramics—Petrie places the two in conversation with each other to create single-scene panels printed on everyday dinnerware. By intentionally receiving only part of the story, the viewer is invited to determine what the rest of the narrative might be. In living with these objects that can be used daily, the meaning of the scene may change or grow with years of use, which ultimately places empathy, interpretation and connection at the heart of these multifaceted objects.

“By applying my narratives to functional pottery, I hope to encourage the user to examine a single moment from all angles,” Petrie remarked. “As time goes on and the piece sees habitual use, what may have seemed obvious slowly becomes uncertain and fuzzy. Suddenly, you come to understand and sympathize with the character you had always thought of as the ‘bad guy.’”

Petrie incorporates many of the traditional comic and manga materials and processes in his work. His illustrations are drawn with a crow-quill pen, shaded with an application of half-tones and ultimately screen printed by hand. Petrie’s pots are all slabbed, coiled, pinched and intentionally left loose, utilizing slip colors that reference paper and aged newsprint. On some pieces, Petrie creates an air of mystery by masking part of the drawing in a shroud of gold or silver luster. Through natural wear or purposeful abrasion, the luster fades and eventually the entire image is revealed.

“If one would like to preserve the beauty of the luster, they must content themselves with never knowing what it hides beneath,” Petrie explained.

Originally from Minnesota’s St. Croix Valley, Petrie grew up surrounded by what he describes as utilitarian pottery. During his studies at the University of Minnesota—where he earned his BFA in 2013—he became enamored with decorating his handcrafted pottery with illustrations inspired by comics and manga. Throughout the course of two emerging artist residency programs at Northern Clay Center in 2013 and Worcester Center for Crafts from 2016 to 2018, Petrie learned to incorporate the process of screen printing to achieve more control and clarity in his graphic pottery. He has exhibited his work across the country, including the American Museum for Ceramic Art in Pomona, California, in 2017. Today, he lives in Philadelphia and enjoys making accessible pottery to be displayed or used in everyday life.

All are welcome to attend Petrie’s artist talk on Thursday, March 28, at 7 p.m. in Blair’s Romano Gallery.