Graduate ceramist has works featured in '500 Figures in Clay'

Crisha Yantis, "A Different Point of View," is one of two pieces featured in the book "500 Figures in Clay Vol. 2" by Lark Ceramics.
Crisha Yantis, "A Different Point of View," is one of two pieces featured in the book "500 Figures in Clay Vol. 2" by Lark Ceramics.

Graduate ceramist has works featured in '500 Figures in Clay'

18 Mar 2014    

Crisha Yantis, "Level Playing Field."
Crisha Yantis, "Level Playing Field."

Crisha Yantis, a third-year Master of Fine Arts in ceramics student from Olympia, Wash., has two pieces featured in the book “500 Figures in Clay Vol. 2” by Lark Ceramics.

The book series features the best contemporary work in fields such as ceramics, jewelry making, woodworking and more. The first entry in the series, “500 Teapots” was published in 2002, and since then, more than 35 books have followed. “500 Figures in Clay” was juried by ceramic artist Nan Smith. Each piece had to be based on and recognizable as the human form.

“It’s a cool selection,” Yantis said. “When I was starting out as an undergraduate, I really looked at these books a lot to study surface and how people are doing things, so it’s really educational. And now, it’s kind of fun because I have friends who are in this next volume with me.”

Her two pieces featured in the book are “Level Playing Field” and “A Different Point of View.”

Yantis’ work also received a $1,800 grant from the Lincoln Arts Council to be featured in the latest round of Community Supported Art (CSArt), which is based on the Community Supported Agriculture model.

Nine artists were selected from a field of 45 applicants. They each created a unique work for each of the 50 art shareholders to be delivered at three distribution events throughout the season. Each art shareholder receives 10 original “art commodities,” plus the opportunity to meet and interact with the artists who are commissioned to create the 2014 harvest of art.

“They are bridging the gap between artists and collectors, which is pretty neat,” Yantis said. “These items are something that I make large-scale, but now I get to bring it to more people by making it an a small-scale way.”

For the project, Yantis is making 10 each of shot glasses, salt and pepper shakers, rattles, wall pieces and pieces with a secret hole in the back.

“They are all different because they are hand made,” Yantis said. “The lines, colors and forms will all be different. But I know what I’m doing, so I can just go and focus on making them and know that they’re going somewhere, which feels satisfying.”

Yantis will distribute her work at the first distribution date on June 17 at Sheldon Museum of Art’s Jazz in June concert.

“I wonder if people will be happy with the one they get,” Yantis said. “I’m making 50 pieces, but 10 of each type. And each one of those will be different.”

The event is important to Yantis to get her work out into the community.

“I think in this field, you’re working a lot in your studio on your own, so an opportunity to come and be part of the community and see the people that live with these objects is pretty exciting,” she said. “It helps me build relationships for the future, as well, and keep myself going and thriving in an area that I want to be in.”

Up next for Yantis is her MFA Thesis Exhibition in the Eisentrager-Howard Gallery in Richards Hall April 7-11.

“I feel ready to go out into the world and work and find my way, which is a really nice place to be in,” Yantis said. “I feel capable of the next step, whatever it’s going to be. I just have to be patient to see what the future holds.”

Yantis said she liked working in clay in high school, but didn’t have a strong education in it. She began as a potter in Seattle.

“I made some pretty bad stuff,” she said. “I liked that lifestyle, but I didn’t have enough knowledge to make it happen for myself. I reached a point where I needed to get some more education to do something with it.”

She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia, before pursuing her Master of Fine Arts degree at UNL.

“I didn’t know that people went to school for ceramics when I first started,” Yantis said. “Then, when I started going, I found there was so much opportunity at a university. You can do so much experimenting and testing, and everything is at your fingertips.”

She describes her time at UNL as both challenging and rewarding.

“It’s been challenging, and I’ve developed and learned so much about myself and my capabilities,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed teaching. I didn’t realize I would like it so much, but I really enjoyed those relationships with the students.”

She enjoys being able to create any form with clay, but says the surfaces are challenging.

“That’s the life-long aspect of clay,” she said. “Over time, you start to understand it. I understand it more now, but it’s still mysterious.”