Ceramic artist Emily Connell began experimenting with incorporating books into her clay works six years ago while a student at the Kansas City Art Institute. The month of May brings two opportunities to see her experiments with the form: She will have 15 pieces in “Bridges and Gaps: The Annual Red Star Resident Exhibition” at Belger Crane Yard Studios and four in “Progressional Currents,” a group show at the Kansas City Artists Coalition of works by porcelain artists who worked at the International Ceramics Studio (ICS) in Kecskemét, Hungary. Connell has been there twice.
For Connell, the book is “a symbol, a form and an abstraction.” She achieves dramatic results by brushing clay slip onto the pages of Bibles and reference works, and then firing the clay-encrusted volumes in the kiln, a process she describes as “almost like a cremation within ceramic forms.” During firing, the paper pages and cloth bindings burn out, leaving a fan-shaped array of porcelain pages tinged with ash burn marks and/or colored by the red iron oxide from the inks of the printed words. The finished works take the form of pedestal sculptures and tablets — cross-sections created by encasing the delicate fired books in gypsum or concrete and slicing them with a concrete block saw.
“Bridges and Gaps: The Annual Red Star Resident Exhibition” opens with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. May 5 and continues through Aug. 5 at Belger Crane Yard Gallery, 2011 Tracy Ave. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. For more information, 816.474.7316 or www.craneyardstudios.org
“Progressional Currents” opens with a reception from 6 to 8:30 p.m. May 12 and continues through June 23 at the Kansas City Artists Coalition, 201 Wyandotte. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. For more information, 816.421.5222 or kansascityartistscoalition.org