Ryan Carrington: Blue Collar Defender

Ryan Carrington is the workingman’s artist.  Considering the context of his work over the years and you would agree as well.  There is a deep appreciation for the hard work that blue-collar workers put into their daily work lives and it’s that sweat and determination that seeps into the screws and fabric that permeate through Carrington’s creations.

Carrington earned his BFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was immediately accepted into the ceramic artist-in-residency program at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center.  Now everyone knows once you graduate from college you don’t necessarily know what you can do with your degree and it was this opportunity in Snowmass, Colorado that Carrington honed his skills into a medium with a message. “This shift allowed me to develop into an interdisciplinary artist, and became the foundation on which all of my work is made today.”  Said Carrington.

Being from Wisconsin, Carrington came from a working class family where he worked a variety of jobs such as a landscaper, maintenance man and even a construction worker and said he “gained an appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the labor force.”  Carrington walked in the very shoes of the workers he now represents in art pieces, so one could say there is a little bit of his own history reflected in what he makes.  

After earning his MFA at San Jose State University he was hired as a lecturer to teach the classes at the University’s foundry metal works facility located south of the campus.  It was here that he was able to make cast metal sculptures casting objects that symbolize the American blue-collar worker.  Leather gloves, a brimmed hat, work boots, even a life size bale of hay all with realistic clarity that makes you believe when you pick them up they won’t weight five pounds or more. 

Now currently working at Santa Clara University as an Full-Time Adjunct Lecturer in the Art Department, Carrington teaches sculpture and 3D Design classes.  It is here that he has found new opportunities through grants and personal research, and soon through a brand new state-of-the-art Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History building set to open in the Fall of 2016.  Nestled in his office/studio Carrington has created a work area to create his current body of work ‘Flag Series’ where he creates American Flags with men’s suits and Carhartt workman’s pants, many of which Carrington wore out himself.  Carrington said “The act of sewing these two different types of clothing together into this hopeful and proud icon is meant to be a call for coming together as a union, and asking for greater understanding and empathy across our ever-widening class system.” 

Carrington will be showing these flags in his first solo show ‘Made in America’ at JCO’s Place in Los Gatos, California opening reception June 25, 2015 from 7pm-9pm and running from June 23-July 19, 2015.   To see more of his work visit his site www.ryancarringtonart.com and follow him on Instagram @ryan_carrington.  

 

A colored grouping of rolled up ties lay rolled up on a table so that Carrington can see the color play happening in order to incorporate them into a flag.  Photo © Aimee Santos

A colored grouping of rolled up ties lay rolled up on a table so that Carrington can see the color play happening in order to incorporate them into a flag.  Photo © Aimee Santos

America is going through an enormous transition period, and the shift in the public perspective towards the culturally defined roles of blue and white-collar workers is what I’m interested in addressing.
— Ryan Carrington
Carrington works on one of his flags in his office/studio space at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, CA.  In the background hangs one of his Chalk Line drawings using a carpenter's Chalk Snap-Line tool.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Carrington works on one of his flags in his office/studio space at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, CA.  In the background hangs one of his Chalk Line drawings using a carpenter's Chalk Snap-Line tool.  Photo © Aimee Santos

'Flag #1' in Carrington's Flag Series show layers of men's suits and Carhartt workman's pants as the strips and men's ties as the stars.  Photo © Aimee Santos

'Flag #1' in Carrington's Flag Series show layers of men's suits and Carhartt workman's pants as the strips and men's ties as the stars.  Photo © Aimee Santos

'Standard" Aluminum, Found Object 38"x9"x16" 2009.  Image courtesy of the Artist Ryan Carrington.

'Standard" Aluminum, Found Object 38"x9"x16" 2009.  Image courtesy of the Artist Ryan Carrington.

A detail of cast off fabric on the floor of Carrington's office/studio at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, CA. Photo © Aimee Santos

A detail of cast off fabric on the floor of Carrington's office/studio at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, CA. Photo © Aimee Santos

Fabric is everywhere in Carrington's office/studio at Santa Clara University as he works on his Flag Series project for his upcoming solo show at JCO's Place in Los Gatos, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Fabric is everywhere in Carrington's office/studio at Santa Clara University as he works on his Flag Series project for his upcoming solo show at JCO's Place in Los Gatos, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

"Screw Relief #3" Screws and Plywood 26"x22"x3" 2013.  Image courtesy of the Artist Ryan Carrington.

"Screw Relief #3" Screws and Plywood 26"x22"x3" 2013.  Image courtesy of the Artist Ryan Carrington.

A detail of sawdust that lines a crevas in a four foot wooden sculpture of a Construction worker's hat.  Photo © Aimee Santos

A detail of sawdust that lines a crevas in a four foot wooden sculpture of a Construction worker's hat.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Sawdust from a short day's work on Carrington's four foot wooden Construction worker's hat.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Sawdust from a short day's work on Carrington's four foot wooden Construction worker's hat.  Photo © Aimee Santos

The sun sets on Carrington's four foot Contruction Worker's hat showing the layers of plywood used to make up this massive sculpture.  Photo © Aimee Santos

The sun sets on Carrington's four foot Contruction Worker's hat showing the layers of plywood used to make up this massive sculpture.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Carrington kneels on pads to help ease the pain after long hours working on his four foot wooden Construction worker's hat.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Carrington kneels on pads to help ease the pain after long hours working on his four foot wooden Construction worker's hat.  Photo © Aimee Santos

I had multiple teachers and mentors who inspired me through their own commitment and dedication to their practice, and I hope to share that same example with my students.
— Ryan Carrington
As a previous professor of sculpture at San Jose State University Carrington helped students learn about welding and metal works, pictured on the left, he watches a student practice a tig weld at the Foundry Metal Works in San Jose, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

As a previous professor of sculpture at San Jose State University Carrington helped students learn about welding and metal works, pictured on the left, he watches a student practice a tig weld at the Foundry Metal Works in San Jose, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Carrington, on the left, manages the flow of iron during a past iron pour at the San Jose State University Metal Works Foundry.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Carrington, on the left, manages the flow of iron during a past iron pour at the San Jose State University Metal Works Foundry.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Carrington leaves a screw higher than the others to test out the aesthetics before adding more to a Screw Relief Drawing.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Carrington leaves a screw higher than the others to test out the aesthetics before adding more to a Screw Relief Drawing.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Henry Carrington watches his father Ryan work on his Screw Relief Drawings on the kitchen table.  Normally Ryan works on these pieces after Henry has gone to sleep so this is the first time his son has been present to see the creation of his father's art.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Henry Carrington watches his father Ryan work on his Screw Relief Drawings on the kitchen table.  Normally Ryan works on these pieces after Henry has gone to sleep so this is the first time his son has been present to see the creation of his father's art.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Cj Jilek: Sculptural Botanist

There must have been a moment in the life of Cj Jilek where she stopped to smell the roses and then noticed the surrounding plants and just never looked back.  Jilek is a ceramic artist who is inspired by everything about plants, the colors, the textures, the shapes, and especially the biology surrounding them.  

Based in Pomona, CA Jilek works as the Assistant Studio Director at the American Museum of Ceramic Art, which gives her the opportunity to not just work with people excited about ceramics but also to work on her craft in a dedicated studio space.  But Jilek wasn't always settled in to her surroundings, she has traveled all over the world including Australia, South Korea and Poland where she worked at a traditional ceramic factory in Boleslawiec.  Jilek's work is a direct reflection of her environment and looking throughout her body of work, one can see it manifest.  Jilek states, "When I lived in the Midwest and flew over the agricultural areas my vessels referenced the aerial patterns of the fields, near the ocean it referenced sea life and the shoreline, in cities it’s more architectural."  In a way her sculptural pieces become tangible memories.

Another aspect to Jilek's work is a very sensual look that addresses  "sensuality, sexuality, attraction, desire, eroticism and acceptance" all elements that come to mind when one gazes upon Jilek's pieces.  In fact Jilek's work also holds a higher purpose for her pieces, she states "I'd like for our natural sexuality to not carry the shame and stigma that is attached to it in so many societies and cultures."  But Jilek's sculptures are not solely feminine she also creates masculine pieces  "When I pair two sculptures together I’m playing with the relationship and tension between forms to elicit the apprehension and anticipation that can arise with human attraction" said Jilek.

Never one to sit still Jilek now embarks on a trip back to Australia, this time as a presenter at Stepping Up: 14th Annual Australian Ceramics Triennial 2015. To off set the costs Jilek began a kick-starter campaign to raise funds, which ends June 11, 2015.  However the hosts of the conference, the Australian Ceramics Association, suffered a fire recently so Jilek has graciously dedicated a small portion of the funds raised to help the ACA recover after such a devastating fire. 

Jilek will be teaching Mold Making/Slip Casting classes this fall at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, CA.  She will also be doing workshops at the following: 
Stepping Up: 14th Australian Ceramics Triennial 2015, July 9-11, 2015, Canberra, ACT, Australia
Gold Coast Potters Association, July 19, 2015, Benowa, OLD Australia
Auckland Studio Potters, August 8 & 9, 2015, Auckland, New Zealand
Northern Rivers Pottery Supplies, August 1& 2, 2015, Lismore, NSW, Australia
Palos Verdes Art Center, Sept 12 &13, 2015, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

Upcoming Shows:

California Now, June 14-Aug 21, 2015 at Richmond Art Center, Richmond, CA
McGroaty Arts Center Presents: 12th Annual Ceramics Invitational Exhibition, June 13- June 27, 2015 Tujunga, CA 
Coastline Community College Art Gallery, July 18 – August 18, 2015, Newport Beach, CA
History in the Making, Sep 4- 25, 2015, Carbondale Clay Center, Carbondale, CO
Stepping Up Ceramics Conference & Exhibition July 9-11, Canberra, Australia

Jilek works out of her studio space at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, CA where she is the Assistant Studio Director.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Jilek works out of her studio space at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, CA where she is the Assistant Studio Director.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Jilek  works on a cup in her studio at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Jilek works on a cup in her studio at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

The cups  Jilek  creates have a unique style to them that emphasizes the organic nature of plants.  Photo © Aimee Santos

The cups Jilek creates have a unique style to them that emphasizes the organic nature of plants.  Photo © Aimee Santos

'Quiet Openings' 2009 by Cj  Jilek .  Image courtesy of the artist.

'Quiet Openings' 2009 by Cj Jilek.  Image courtesy of the artist.

A closer look at one of  Jilek 's cups shows how much time and effort is taken to create detail and form.  Photo © Aimee Santos

A closer look at one of Jilek's cups shows how much time and effort is taken to create detail and form.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Utilizing wet porcelain  Jilek  dabs dots onto her forms to give it more of texture, one of the many steps taken to create her pieces.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Utilizing wet porcelain Jilek dabs dots onto her forms to give it more of texture, one of the many steps taken to create her pieces.  Photo © Aimee Santos

A detail of 'Calyx 3' from  Jilek 's  2012 collection.  Photo © Aimee Santos

A detail of 'Calyx 3' from Jilek's  2012 collection.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Two of  Jilek 's pieces, 'Tongue & Cheek' and 'Anther Series' lay finished while she works in her studio.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Two of Jilek's pieces, 'Tongue & Cheek' and 'Anther Series' lay finished while she works in her studio.  Photo © Aimee Santos

The creation of  Jilek 's larger pieces requires a session of three straight hours of work in order to maintain the structure of the porcelain and to prevent cracking and balance.  Photo © Aimee Santos

The creation of Jilek's larger pieces requires a session of three straight hours of work in order to maintain the structure of the porcelain and to prevent cracking and balance.  Photo © Aimee Santos

'Anthoycyanin' 2012.  Image courtesy of the artist.  

'Anthoycyanin' 2012.  Image courtesy of the artist.  

Molds help  Jilek  create the initial forms for her biomorphic sculptures and saves time as well.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Molds help Jilek create the initial forms for her biomorphic sculptures and saves time as well.  Photo © Aimee Santos

'Anther Series 6' 2010  Image courtesy of the artist.  

'Anther Series 6' 2010  Image courtesy of the artist.  

Jilek  uses plaster molds to help balance the setting of her sculpture during a work day in the studios of the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Jilek uses plaster molds to help balance the setting of her sculpture during a work day in the studios of the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

'Perianth' 2014  Image courtesy of the artist.

'Perianth' 2014  Image courtesy of the artist.

Tools of the trade and then some.   Jilek , like many ceramic artists, utilize a variety of tools to get the texture they want.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Tools of the trade and then some.  Jilek, like many ceramic artists, utilize a variety of tools to get the texture they want.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Jilek  presses a dowel stick into each piece giving it a unique look and carrying as much of the mark of  Jilek  as possible.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Jilek presses a dowel stick into each piece giving it a unique look and carrying as much of the mark of Jilek as possible.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Jilek  wears one of her signature necklaces while creating more for her kickstarter campaign.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Jilek wears one of her signature necklaces while creating more for her kickstarter campaign.  Photo © Aimee Santos