Situated in the Robert Else Gallery in Kadema Hall, “Intersections” is a new gallery show that features the mixed medium ceramic artwork of faculty member Chuck Owens.
Owens, a Sacramento native, started producing ceramic artwork as a sophomore at Del Campo High School in 1991. After traveling and attending both Northern Arizona University and Bowling Green State University, he returned to Sacramento to teach and continue working on his art.
Almost all of the displayed works feature ceramics, with the clay forms being contrasted with building materials like concrete or steel, as well as weaving materials like twine.
“These structures or modules are all intersecting at one point,” Owens said in regards to the title of the gallery showing. “You see a lot of references with grids and right angles and I use the sphere to define that center point.”
The clay sphere, which is a consistent element throughout the exhibit, is Owens’ representation of the throwing process. The process encompasses the entire activity of shaping the clay on the potter’s wheel, he said.
Much of the influence on Owens’ work comes from his family. His father and brother were contractors and his mother worked with weaving and textiles. Owens himself has worked with his family building projects in the past.
“There’s a lot of evidence of strings of clay here being pushed into corners that are a lot like the rooms we inhabit and the spaces that my family builds,” Owens said.
The influence of Owens’ family in his work has been mirrored the friendly atmosphere at the galley reception.
Briane Odom, studio arts major and president of the Ceramics Guild at Sac State, noted how the community surrounding ceramics is very supportive.
“We’re technically a big group, but it doesn’t really feel like it,” Odom said. “We’re a close-knit group of people. We’re all here for each other.”
In addition to working in the ceramics medium for more than twenty years, Owens is currently a part-time professor at Sac State.
“Owens is very knowledgeable, and he sort of makes his students learn through their successes or failures,” said Owen’s student, junior studio art major Matt Sloan.
One of the displayed works, “Light Fractured,” has received the most attention from the audience, said Owens. The work features an elongated quarter sphere, which has been split horizontally into two distinct sections of lighter and darker materials.
But the most notable feature of “Light Fractured” is the inclusion of a shattered quarter sphere on the ground, in which an intact clay sphere sits upon a pile of debris.
“That was totally deliberate,” said Owens, who often gets questions about if the broken work was intentional. “The art office even called me the first day and told me that one of my pieces fell and broke.”
Owens said that while his work has become a vehicle for his livelihood and an exploration of his own personal narratives, he does encourage audience perspective and interpretation with his work.
“I’m hoping that everyone may be able to find something within them that they can resonate with,” he said.
Students of Owens noted the ceramics medium has a distinctly different feel than other forms of art.
“Ceramics is almost 100% about doing,”said Sloan. “Once you’ve gotten to work with the clay, you’ll get to rework and troubleshoot it. It’s a definite hands-on medium.”
“Intersections” is open in Kadema Hall from 12-4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday until September 25th and is free to the public.