Ah Haa: Two March Shows Open With Art Walk

March shows at Ah Haa feature Goedele Vanhille and a Kenyan “Slum Art Slam”

Telluride Arts‘ First Thursday Art Walk is a very good reason to go for a stroll. Galleries, eateries and art spaces celebrate artists and their work on the first Thursday of each month with receptions, artist talks, and opportunities to purchase art.

One of the cornerstones of Telluride’s art community is the venerable Ah Haa School for the Arts, located in the historic Depot Building at 300 South Townsend Street. It is within those historic walls that Art Walk aficionados can take in a new exhibition of Goedele Vanhille’s extraordinary ceramic vessels. The work will be displayed in the Daniel Tucker Gallery in the west end of the building, while in the East Gallery, Angela Pashayan presents a “Slum Art Slam,” a collection of images created by young men living in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. The dual exhibition opens with a special reception this Thursday, March 6, during Art Walk, 5-8 p.m.

 Vanhille vessel by Wendy McEahern

“Things Left Unsaid,” image by Wendy McEahern

Vanhille is a longtime regional ceramicist whose work flows like water, seems to defy gravity, and tosses design norms out the window. Much of the pieces in her exhibition were fired in a new kiln, which Vanhille built with the help of a grant from Telluride Arts. The process is a departure from her previous work using an electric kiln.

“This new kiln was to be a gas-fired soda kiln,” Vanhille explained. “I had dreamed about this for a long time and had thought it was the way to go with firing my work. The interplay between fire, heat, stacking, soda introduction, flame, oxidation, reduction, and rate of cooling all affect the outcome of the work. It is a very direct interaction with the firing part of the ceramic process which I had missed with firing in an electric kiln.”

The exhibition is a combination of work from before the new kiln and after she started working with it.

“The older work is mostly wheel thrown and then altered; it plays with the concept of functionality,” the Belgian-born Vanhille said. “The newer work strays away from that. It is hand built. Inner space is still important. Colors are mute, fire leaves its mark.”

Goedele is excited to keep experimenting with her new “toy.”

Vanhille ceramics by Wendy McEahern

“Waltzing with Gertrude,”
photo byWendy McEahern

“I still have a lot to learn about the soda process,” she said. “I think it will test and inspire me for a long time. It warms the cockles of my heart.”

Vanhille has been working with and studying ceramics since she was 10 years old. The thrill has never diminished since those early days working with clay and making (and breaking!) pots. “What could be more exciting than working with earth, water, air and fire?” she said.

Goedele Vanhille is a regular in the stable of the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art.

In the East Gallery, prepare yourself for an explosion of color and passionate expression. Pashayan’s humanitarian work brought her to Kenya, where she was interested in collaborating with a friend to create a sustainable farming project. While there, she made local contacts and visited Nairobi’s sprawling slums. It was while touring those areas that she made her delightful discovery.

Slum art from Kenya

Slum art from Kenya

“As I walked around the slums with the locals, I spoke to many locals, shaking hands and learning about their living circumstances and hardships,” she recalled. “I made my way to the very back of the Mukuru Slum, where I discovered a group of young boys who not only told me of their hardships, but opened the back door of their dwelling to reveal an outdoor enclave with enough color and brilliance to light up the whole slum! Art was everywhere and I was astounded at the level of talent I was seeing. It literally made me cry considering the beauty of it being created under such horrid living conditions.”

Pashayan’s exhibit features works by six artists, ages 15-26, and the work is available for purchase. Funds will provide reliable food, safe lodging, and art supplies for the artists who live in the Mukuru Slum of Kenya. Pashayan will also give a talk about the show at 6 p.m.

Both Vanhille’s exhibit and Slum Art Slam will be up until Friday, March 28.

For more information, please visit: www.ahhaa.org, or call 970-728-3886.

 

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