Most coffee and tea lovers own that special cup that makes their first sip on a quiet morning absolutely satisfying.
Meet Naomi Peterson, the Alliance Art Gallery’s December guest artist, who invites everyone into her deep connection between environment, history, culture and beauty through her ceramic cups.
“I am drawn to nostalgic imagery,” she said. As a child growing up in Quincy, Ill., her world revolved around humidity, cicadas, bluegill fish, dogwood blossoms and ginko leaves. Today, she lives in Laramie, Wyo., in a dry desert-like environment with trout, sagebrush and cacti.
“As we go through life many factors influence us,” she said. “We are imprinted by internal and external influences that shape and change us. I am interested in the interactions between people and their environment — how we react and how that relationship has a hand in shaping our perception, personality and culture.”
Indeed, her ceramic cups invite the holder to reflect upon how we view our world and change.
“I’ve looked at the wildlife from Illinois and Wyoming and thought about how those differences make an impact on people,” she said.
She added, “We look back on childhood and remember things that surrounded us that we never really noticed, only to miss them when we move or travel.” In her case, she keenly feels the environmental influences on her life, internal and external, as she transitioned from a John Woods associate degree in green, tree-lined Illinois to the brown and gold mountainous landscape she experienced while working for a bachelor of fine arts degree in Wyoming.
In addition to a geographical transition, in order to graduate, she had to diversify from her preferred medium, painting.
She chose ceramics and never looked back.
“My aim is to integrate painting and drawing more with ceramics. I love the melding of different medias. It gives more personality to the piece.”
True. Just as a symphony needs silence (negative space) between notes, Peterson’s ceramic cups offer a quiet stillness.
The image — whether influenced by Illinois or Wyoming — allows us to hold in our hands a craft, an art, that began centuries before us and will continue centuries after us. A cup, filled with beauty and drink, gently coaxes us into our day.
Since 1999 Lana Ewing, our other guest artist for December — a nurse by day and a jewelry designer by night — creates “fun, fresh, kicky, chunky, colorful and sparkly bracelets, earrings and necklaces among other projects.” She uses
Swarovski crystal, pewter, misshapen freshwater pearls, handmade artist pieces and lampwork beads purchased directly from artists in the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Russia and other locales.
What started as a hobby grew into a cottage industry; but before the hobby came the inspiration, and before the inspiration came the mother. Lana laughs, “My mother always wore jewelry. I can remember her riding the tractor, plowing, and she always had a dress and hat on … and jewelry. She wanted to look good when Hubert (her husband) on the other tractor passed her. Her favorite was pop beads.” (For those too young to know, these brightly colored round plastic beads snapped together like a Lego-type necklace.) But her mother also had an upscale version of jewelry: gold.
She told Lana, “I will wear gold; you wear silver. That way they’ll never get mixed up.” Lana suspected there might have been a cost factor there.
Once Lana learned stringing techniques, she was off and running. As she began to wear her handiwork, coworkers and friends wanted their own creations even though she admits, “My pieces are not for the faint-hearted.” Her customer base has grown so large, she takes most orders from prior purchasers wanting a new piece in a new color combination.
Her goal is always the same: To create wearable art — jewelry beloved not only by the one wearing it but those seeing it.
People sometimes bring her family heirlooms, items loved and treasured but laying unused and unseen in cupboards and sideboard drawers. She integrates these keepsakes with glass beads, pearls, pewter and lampwork beads into one-of-a-kind jewelry guaranteeing that a piece of history can be carried with love into the future.
Ewing works hard to achieve uniqueness, beauty and functionality. Although a long way from her childhood with her beloved pop bead, gold-jeweled Mom, Lana has never forgotten the lesson: Do not let a day go by without jewelry. Even on a tractor.
An opening reception celebrating both guest artists will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. This reception coincides with Hannibal’s Second Saturday Gallery Night and Hannibal’s Living Windows event.
More information is available from Alliance Art Gallery, 112 N. Main, or at allianceartgallery.com or by calling 573-221-2275.
— By Bella Errako