The new year (2017) has ushered in a new HANDCRAFTED Juried Art Exhibition which is now being held from the month of January to mid-May at the Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences of Rocky Mount, North Carolina. I recently took part in the exhibition's opening spring reception on February 5th...
“I usually blend cultural ceramic styles together in a piece to explain 'culture clashes'...
The morning dew in the form of ice quickly unthawled as the spring sun met the pavement which my Pontiac Montana grabbed by the mile. I found myself well on my way to the Imperial Centre. Soon, I found myself in the shadow of a chimney. But no ordinary chimney. A chimney of the old metal refinery which now stands as a landmark over the cherished Imperial Centre. I jumped out of my car and strolled through the glass doors which lead me into a lit room right before I was met by two large-iron vaults. Iron vaults which guarded a - now historic - stove which men of old would throw wood into for smelting iron. As I approached the upstairs, I was greeted by two police-officers who cautiously guarded the entrance to the handcrafted art which was to be found in an upper chamber. Divided by walls, the room was filled with people who were standing in the midst of the carefully selected art which graciously contributed to a sense of culture that filled the atmosphere. Jazz music being played downstairs ricocheted off the worn-torn, history-struck brickwork that was molded by hands of old. My eyes soon fell onto a three-dimensional ceramic piece which was set behind the safety of glass while positioned on a square block to present its commanding presence. The piece stunningly symbolized I remix of both the old and new. Its novelty represented something modern yet still of heritage as if it were picked out from an ancient civilization. Three generations gathered together around this piece entitled "Isaiah 40:28.” I was soon greeted by Kilian and his grandparents.
"The piece not only symbolized a cultural significance but a significance
Thomas Kilian is a premier ceramicist, who was awarded "Heritage Artist" of IBXArts in 2010. Kilian not only known for his work in art, but also for his efforts as an advisor to Mercy Partners®, a Christian based humanitarian aid organization working in North and East Africa. Kilian is also well known as a preacher of the Christian Church/Church of Christ who has spoken at large, while he has worked towards obtaining a Bachelors' degree in the field of theology.
Kilian told me that "Isaiah 40:28” was selected along with 37 other artists' works to be exclusively shown at this juried Handcrafted Exhibition. Kilian gleamed as he described the tedious process of how he created this one-of-a-kind ceramic piece. "Isaiah 40:28" is comprised of four clay pieces that has been individually handcrafted on the potters’ wheel. Two hollow rings were crafted, cut and then married up to one another (in a process of "Sticking-up" [an old potters' term]) to make a round-like form with four sides. One piece was formed around the base to create a foot and yet another was formed around the top of the piece to transform it into a functional pitcher with a spout.
Isaiah 40:28's design was inspired by a late 1700s style German double-ringed jug, which is now on display at the Royal Arts Museum in London, England. Ring jugs are a European-derived form which was meant to carry water to the fields and lie flat on a projection such as the hame knob of a mule’s collar but later became a novelty item.
"The first style of ring jugs I started making were like those of the North Carolina Moravians, both thick and wide.
Kilian explained, “When I create showpieces, I usually blend cultural ceramic styles together in a piece to explain 'culture clashes' that the world has experience, whether past or present. For this particular piece, however, I crafted it in the inspiration of 'religious clashes' among Christianity and other faiths. Christians understand God to be a personal God, who is all-powerful, all-ruling, and all -present. He is present in the world, as well as in our lives, in order to bring about change. The Islamic faith understands their Allah (god) to be impersonal, as he has allowed the world to manage itself. There is no other religion besides Christianity that believes that there is a personal God, who, by his providence, actively engages in rule over the world.”
He then noted that the Biblical passage of Isaiah 40:28 summarizes how God's omniscience is equal to his transcendence which gives him the ability to rule over the four corners of the world. Kilian concluded that he created “Isaiah 40:28” with the intent that it would be a memorial to God. He pointed patiently towards the four sides of the jug/pitcher as if I should notice them as he exclaimed:
“I crafted together two ring jugs in order to create four corners, which all together symbolizes