If art could talk | SteamboatToday.com

If art could talk

Ceramic artistlets her work do the talking

Autumn Phillips

To ceramic artist Connie Norman, function is empty without meaning.

When she moved from sculpture to ceramics, shape and color was not enough. It wasn’t until she started adding text to her large-scale vessels that they became a true form of expression.

Before each piece is fired, Norman’s poetry is pressed into the walls of the vessel. The words are simple, repeated verses — “snippets of my life,” she said. “A lot of it is about what’s going on around me.”

Her piece, “Bone and Muscle” covers the entire vessel with those three words. It becomes a container for her worry about her husband, who fights in full-contact karate tournaments in Wyoming.

She imagines him getting hurt — breaking bones and tearing muscles. The words “Bone and muscle” seem to pace back and forth on the piece.

She uses another vessel to examine her feelings about her father’s struggle in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. One side of the jar reads, “This is how much I remember.” The other side reads, “This is how much I forgot.”

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The words have meaning and act as a visual element.

“Text is texture,” she said. “The words have a design quality at the same time as they allow the viewer to explore what the pot means.”

Adding words to her ceramic pieces has allowed a broader audience to connect with her art.

Before Norman began making ceramic vessels, her work was more obscure. She made sculptures that resembled the common household iron.

“I had a fascination with irons, because when I was a kid I was badly burned. I don’t remember it, but I have a scar with steam holes on my hand.”

Her iron sculptures were made of paper and straw, and she relished in the contradiction.

Her current work isn’t as obvious but involves the same artist’s awareness of her message.

“It’s something decorative, but it also has a lot of layers in the end,” she said.

Opening reception for “Natural Reflections,” including ceramic art by Connie Norman

5 to 7 p.m. today

Depot Art Center, 1001 13th St.