Before Jordana Wagner, a senior art and design major, enrolled at Shippensburg University three-and-a-half years ago, she was passionate about art — she took every art class her high school offered — but was not sure who she was as an artist.
However, SU gave her the outlet to find her artistic identity and an unwavering sense of direction, which she gained early on when she visited campus as a prospective student.
“The day that I came here for open house, my tour guide was actually the ceramics professor, so I got to talk with him one-on-one after the tour and got to learn more about the art center, which pretty much sealed the deal for me,” Wagner said. “It felt so much like home that I knew right away this is where I wanted to go.”
Wagner was interested in a diverse range of art forms from childhood on, dabbling in drawing, painting, jewelry making, sculpting and small-scale ceramics. But as she progressed through her major at SU, she became increasingly interested in ceramics and the challenge that shaping clay presented. Wagner now views ceramics as her central art form.
“It fights back,” Wagner said. “Some types of art you can just click it away, fix it or hit the undo button. But with this, sometimes it’ll be wobbly or you’ll be working on the wheel and you’ll have a thin spot and watch the whole piece collapse on you all at once, and at that point you have to start over.”
The difficulty and near impossibility of smoothing over every crack or maintaining a precise thickness around an entire ceramic due to its finicky nature, exemplifies the beauty of imperfection. This concept can be seen in Wagner’s first solo art exhibit, “Natural Creations,” which is currently on display in the SU Brindle Gallery. The exhibit features a series of five ceramic creations, all of which sport a unique sense of purposeful disorder.
“If you look at the pieces, they have a lot of natural curves and they are very organic. That theme is carried through to the glazes, too. Some of the glazes run, are cracked and have a flow to them or bubbles on them,” Wagner said. “I also stuck with a neutral color scheme for the colors — lots of tans, black, greens blues.”
Among Wagner’s exhibited ceramics is her largest creation to date, a two-foot-tall vessel. She is particularly excited to showcase the piece because the challenge of creating ceramics increases steadily with size, and her ability to work with clay on a large scale signifies just how much she has grown as an artist.
However, Wagner is not content with the scale of her ceramic just yet. She is planning to build ceramic vessels that are several feet tall for the senior exhibition, where all senior art and design majors will display top creations picked by their professors.
The senior exhibit will be on display in the Kauffman Gallery later in the academic year.
“Natural Creations” will remain on display in the Brindle Gallery through Thursday.
The exhibit can be viewed during gallery hours, 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday, or by appointment.