artist creates ceramic vessels
for Ky. Governors Awards
PROSPECT, Ky. (April 2006) This years
recipients of the 2005 Kentucky Governors Awards in the Arts were
presented with their own piece of art. The Kentucky Arts Council commissioned
Prospect, Ky., potter Laura Ross to create a unique ceramic vessel just
for the occasion to be presented Feb. 9 in Frankfort by Gov. Ernie Fletcher
and First Lady Glenna Fletcher.
Ross gave up teaching
to pursue her passion.
Ross, 58, was approached last summer by the Kentucky Arts
Council to create a unique piece of ceramic art. The word ceramic
is a general term used to cover any object created from clay and high
temperatures, including everything from industrial ceramics like bathroom
fixtures to high art pieces like the ceramic pods that Ross showcases
across the country.
Ross was a middle school and high school art teacher in Russellville,
Ky., and Carrollton, Ky. In 1986, she made the life-changing decision
to leave the classroom for the full-time studio. She has been earning
a living as a potter ever since.
Her potting career began with creating decorative pieces using only
low-fire kilns. However, her direction changed significantly in 1986
when she was awarded the Early Times Scholarship. Ross accepted the
offer to study with Chris Staley, a noted ceramic artist, at the Haystack
School of Crafts in Maine. There, Ross found the courage to jump from
low-fire kilns to high-fire kilns. This allowed her to broaden her pieces
from decorative only to more durable, functional pieces that are not
only food safe, but microwave and dishwasher safe as well.
I make pieces that people can use and enjoy, Ross said.
I make loads of baking dishes either decorative or pretty straightforward
functional ones. I enjoy making them and people seem to enjoy them.
They make nice gifts and, hopefully, they bring something a little bit
different and special into peoples lives.
In a press release, Lori Meadows, executive director of the Kentucky
Arts Council, stated, We feel that a piece of artwork made by
a notable Kentucky artist is the most appropriate award to five to those
who have contributed so much to the arts in Kentucky.
Members of the Kentucky Arts Council were familiar with Ross work
when they were scouting for an artist to commission the 2005 awards.
She exhibits regularly both statewide in venues such as Kentucky Crafted:
The Market and nationally in the prestigious American Craft Council
shows. Some members had even worked with Ross on previous projects and
visited her Belknap Beach studio.
Before she was selected, Ross presented a selection of colors and glazes
she liked to use as well as drawings of possible designs. To develop
the award, a small group of council members and Ross worked together
to determine a general size and color for the piece.
They decided they wanted 10 pieces that were similar but different.
During the following months, Ross created 10 unique ceramic vessels
with similar shapes but with different glazes on each one. I think
people seemed to enjoy that about them, she said.
The awards were presented at a public ceremony in the
Capitol Rotunda. It was a very nice ceremony, said Ross,
who was acknowledged at the ceremony as the artist. Making the event
even more special for Ross was the fact that she knew several of the
recipients. She had previously worked with Mike and Kathy Stutland,
owners of Artique in Lexington, Ky. They were given the Business Award.
Especially meaningful was seeing Hazel Carver, her friend from many
years before, win the Education Award. I knew her from a long
time ago. I was thrilled that she got the award as a music instructor.
It was great. It was really great.
Carver taught high school music in the Russellville school system for
35 years. Though she retired in 1977, she remains committed to music
education in her community.
It was such a nice day at the capitol, Carver said. I
was real glad to see Laura again. She is a very talented lady. It must
be really exciting to have an idea in your head and be able to put it
together in front of you.
Carver has given her award a place of honor at her front door. No
one can miss it, thats for sure, she said. Im
just delighted to have it.
Carver snickered as she added, I liked mine the best. Everyone
who went with me that day thought so, too. Im really proud of
Ross spoke highly of the Kentucky Arts Council that sponsors the annual
awards program and the 10 recipients. Its a great organization,
and I think its a wonderful thing that they recognize these recipients
of the awards. They have all contributed a lot to the state of art in
Ross artwork can be found at her
studio at 2570 Belknap Beach Rd., Prospect, where visitors are welcome;
at the Kentucky Museum of Arts and Crafts, 715 W. Main St., Louisville;
and at Thrown Together on Frankfort Avenue in Louisville.
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