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Exhibition at Lacoste/Keane Gallery features two different perspectives on vessels by ceramic artists
Mike Helke, Basket.

CONCORD, MASS.- Lacoste/Keane Gallery announces its exhibition Fornell + Helke: Traditional / Modern from July 7 – 28, 2018, featuring two different perspectives on vessels by ceramic artists, Robert Fornell and Mike Helke.

Growing up in Minnesota, Robert Fornell was strongly influenced by the prevalent ceramic environment around him, specifically Japanese influenced folk pottery. Fornell practiced ceramic art from a young age, working in a sculptural, non-functional style. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota, then received his MFA from the University of Washington. In 1988, he traveled to Japan to complete his residency, where he found inspiration in the Japanese tea ceremony and its accompanying vessels. Many of Fornell’s works demonstrate the influence of Japanese culture and the Mingei movement ideals on his artistic style.

In this show, instead of focusing on the decorative characteristics of his vessels, Fornell emphasizes the importance of material, which allows him to take “the role of the enabler, rather than the creator”.1 A portion of the work presented here, while small in scale and focused for the most part on the vessel and it's abstraction, is an attempt to add a somewhat sculptural and intimate take on the vessel forms be it covered containers or more utilitarian pieces like Sake cups. Fornell is currently based out of Seattle, Washington.

Mike Helke, similarly to Fornell, grew up in Minnesota where he attended the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, receiving his BFA in Ceramics and a minor in American Studies. He subsequently completed his MFA in Ceramics at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. Helke is now based in Stillwater, Minnesota. With an emphasis on both defined structure and irregularity, Helke’s pieces strike an interesting balance between functional and innovative. He aims to capture a feeling of fleetingness in his pieces – one that provides the viewer with a positive moment of relief, a response generated by the intersection of movement and form. Helke aims to challenge the conventional, often making decisions such as adding a triangular handle to a mug. From his perspective, these decisions do not make his pieces any better or any worse, they solely add a new dimension and function to his work.

According to Helke, during the process of creating a piece, he recalls a sensory experience which he then embodies as a memory within the final product. Through this, he hopes to project a feeling through the piece to the viewer. Recently, Helke has been inspired by experiences working with wood, specifically the juxtaposition between minimalism and complexity within the material, which he has translated into his work with clay.

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