Ceramics Are the Focus of the Studio 118 Exhibition at the McCray Gallery

© Western New Mexico University

The Francis McCray Gallery of Contemporary Art is hosting an exhibition of ceramic art created by two WNMU post-baccalaureate students, Hugh Remar and Allyson George, and BFA student Victoria Prejean.

The exhibition includes both sculptural and functional ceramics that are the culmination of the artists’ experiences working in clay at the university. The artists chose to title the show the Studio 118 Exhibition in recognition of the working space where the students create their art, said Prejean. In the ceramics studio, “We all get to learn so much from each other,” she said. “It has been exciting to work alongside both [Remar and George] to see the kind of work they make and their process. … It has been super helpful and insightful.”

The works that Prejean has on display in the exhibition include a highly decorated tea service, which reflects two of her strong influences: fourteenth-century English porcelain and her heritage as a Mexican American. The latter influence can be seen in motifs such as marigolds and calaveras integrated into her pieces. A Silver City native, Prejean said she is “trying to combine all these influences that I have, like these English porcelain pieces, with their very elegant forms, with my culture. … I get a lot of inspiration from New Mexico as a whole, and I take a lot of inspiration from my family.”

Like Prejean, Allyson George also draws inspiration from her background. Her recent work, completed during her one-year post-baccalaureate program at WNMU, is very much inspired by her childhood desire to become an animator. George, who grew up near Disney World in Orlando, FL, combines cartoon-inspired characters with functional wear, like mugs. She has lately begun to place QR codes on the bottoms of her pieces which, when scanned, lead to short animations featuring the characters figured in the ceramic work. As she explains in her artist statement, her work “combines the parodied nature of cartoons with the absurd idea that pottery can come to life.”

George said she is especially excited to be part of the Studio 118 Exhibition because it gives her a chance to hear how other people respond to her creations. “It is really nice to have it be received by people who are not as aware of what you are doing.”

The next move in George’s developing career will be an artist residency at the Belger Arts Crane Yard Studios in Kansas City, MO, and the move comes with fortuitous timing. Walt Disney spent his childhood in Kansas City, and this year the city is hosting Disney 100, a substantial exhibition highlighting the “Crown Jewels” of the first 100 years of the Disney Corporation. George trusts that her ceramic art will fit right in to her new environs.

Baccalaureate student Hugh Remar is also moving on following his second year in the program at WNMU and will be entering graduate school in the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design. His ceramic work at the McCrary ranges from classic Korean-style moon jars to a floor-to-ceiling mixed-media sculpture.

The exhibition serves as a sort of capstone for the post-baccalaureate experience for Remar. “I like to think of this as a culmination of my time being [at WNMU] and distilling all the noise that is in my head—getting it out in forms that are sculptural or functional,” he said.

Remar said that the process of installing his work in the gallery prior to the exhibition exercised his creativity. The floor-to-ceiling sculpture on display came together in a way he had not previously imagined. “I had started with the idea of a tapestry that incorporated ceramic [pieces], and I thought I would install it against a wall.” However, the gallery already had a beam attached underneath one of the skylights, so he decided to install the sculpture there. “I was able to make the piece a lot bigger and to conceptualize it as a more three-dimensional piece,” he said.

Remar said that one of the things he enjoys most about having his work in an exhibition focused solely on ceramics is how it highlights the diversity of the medium. “I think it is cool to see how three people who work in the same studio space all work in totally different ways and have different ideas about their art practice,” he said.


The Studio 118 Exhibition will be at the WNMU Francis McCray Gallery of Contemporary Art, May 10-15. An opening reception will be held on May 10 beginning at 6:00 p.m. The artists will be giving talks about their work at 6:30 p.m.

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