Margaret Bohls’ work in hand-built porcelain encompasses both intricate, architectural constructions and spare, fluid forms. “Many of the sources for my work lie within the long and complex history of ceramics,” she states. “Chinese and Korean celadons, Iranian tin-glazed earthenware, and designed pottery of the Modernist era; these are just a few of the historical genres that have inspired the development of my work.” Margaret, a former professor of ceramics at the University of Minnesota and frequent visiting artist and lecturer throughout the country, is also thoughtful about more humble clay practices. “I have a curiosity for the culture of hobby ceramics and its connection to the women’s tradition of decorating on porcelain that has existed in the United States since the 19th century.”
Margaret holds a BFA in ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence and an MFA in ceramics from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. She was a resident at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena, MT and has been a visiting artist at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN. Her work is regularly included in juried exhibitions nationwide. In 2001, Margaret was awarded a prestigious McKnight Artist Fellowship. In 2011, she relocated her studio from Minneapolis to Lincoln, NE.
Chuck Solberg is a nationally recognized clay artist based in St. Paul. Working with stoneware and porcelain clay, he creates functional tableware and large, sculptural pieces. The larger pieces are frequently constructed from separately thrown clay sections that are joined together and then distorted by paddling. The seams and joints from this construction process are left exposed to visually break up the surface of the piece. “In both functional and sculptural work,” states the artist, “my goal is to accent the inherent spontaneity and raw beauty of clay. Wood firing achieves this objective. Flame and ash flow through the kiln leaving unexpected patterns and rich surfaces.”
In the 1970s, Chuck was an associate potter at Abe Cohn’s Potters Wheel Studio in Wisconsin. In the 1990s, he earned a BFA in ceramics from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MFA in ceramics from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. He established his own studio in 1995 and in 1996 was awarded a Jerome Grant in 1996 for his work with saggar firing. Over the years, he has served as an instructor and workshop leader at schools and art centers nationwide. Chuck’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis; The Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul; the University of Wisconsin and numerous private collections.
A talented keyboardist, Chuck has toured professionally with Luther Allison, shared billing with legends including Miles Davis, played with BB King’s band, The Shirelles, Muddy Waters, and Chuck Berry, among others. He currently serves as The Grand Hand’s “house band,” providing live music at gallery openings and events.
“I work much like a jazz musician, improvising on a theme, not knowing where the improvisation will lead. The construction and firing of my work is unpredictable and spontaneous. I strive to keep these qualities in the finished pieces. Someone asked Duke Ellington, ‘What is jazz?’ He replied, ‘It’s the sound of surprise.’ To paraphrase Ellington, I want my work to have the look of surprise – the look and feel of spontaneity.”
Black Tea Pot
Jason’s work has been in demand at The Grand Hand since the gallery was founded in 2004. At that time, he had just completed two years of work and study with potter Robert Briscoe in Harris, MN. “This was not a traditional apprenticeship,” states Jason. “I didn’t work on any of Bob’s pots and he did not pay me in money. I had a space in the studio to work and in return I helped Bob with studio tasks. The benefits far outweighed the responsibilities.”
While the artist’s forms retain the plasticity natural to clay, he describes them as solid, monolithic and substantial. Although his work is often bold and sculptural, it is fully functional at the table and is microwave and dishwasher safe.
Jason is a graduate of Bemidji State University and maintains a studio in St. Paul. He regularly participates in art festivals across the country, including the Sun Valley Center Arts and Crafts Festival in Idaho and the annual Minnesota Potters of the Upper St. Croix Valley Tour. His work is represented in the collections of the Weisman Art Museum and Anoka Ramsey Community College and in the Margaret Harlow Collection at Bemidji State. The potter and his work are featured in the recent film Minnesota Potters: Sharing the Fire and the upcoming “Crossroads” episode of the Craft in America series on PBS.
Louisiana potter Andy Shaw’s porcelain tableware is pleasingly homogeneous yet – unlike traditional matched dish sets – each piece is a bit different from its mates. The artist varies the patterns of his plates, bowls and cups to create functional pieces that work for both formal dining and casual meals.
The artist states, “Whether your choice is a salad of mixed greens or a buckwheat noodle, coconut milk stir-fry with shrimp, snow peas, and red pepper, I have designed these pots to complement the colors and textures of your cooking and home furnishing preferences. The reserved vibrancy of color and the simplified forms allow the tableware to adapt to place. The patterns of stripes and grids respond to anticipated, incidental domestic patterns created by sunlight and shadows through window panes, stair railings, and over floorboards. My designs in clay collaborate with your designs of home. Through this blend the pottery develops a substantial, intimate presence in your home through practical and aesthetic utility.”
Andy earned his BA in history before becoming an apprentice to Patrick Eckman at Basin Creek Pottery in Montana. He was a special student in ceramics at Penn State University and received an MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. Andy has been an instructor at Andrews University in Michigan, Alfred University, Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, Baltimore Clayworks, and Arcadia University, Pennsylvania. Currently, he is an assistant professor at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. His work has received multiple awards and been published in Ceramics Monthly, Studio Potter, and in Garth Clark’s anthology Shards.
Monica Rudquist works primarily in porcelain and is known for the distinctive spiral shapes she achieves. “I love forming a piece of clay on the wheel while it is in a fluid state and I am compelled to create forms which retain this fluidity and gesture,” the Minneapolis artist explains. “I am curious about how far I can push the clay. I test these limits by cutting and recombining thrown forms. This begins a dialogue with the clay that spurs more questionsand responses to the developing form. I choose to work with traditionally functional objects because it introduces the possibility of creating sculptural forms that relate to people on a personal level.”
Monica holds a BA at Macalester College, St. Paul, and an MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI. She has earned awards at the 57th Street Art Fair, Hyde Park, IL; the Minnesota Craft Council Festival, St. Paul; the Uptown Art Fair, Minneapolis; and Art Fair on the Square in Madison, WI. Her work is represented in collections including those of the Minnesota Historical Society and the St. Paul Companies. Formerly a teacher at the Edina Art Center, Edina, MN and St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN, she is currently a ceramics instructor at St. Catherine University in St. Paul.