This weekend, I got to visit Athens, OH with Brian and Abby to participate in a symposium at Ohio University and see shows, performances, and open studios! It was great, there was so much going on and everyone at OU worked really hard to put the symposium together. It was cool opportunity to socialize with Alex Hibbitt and Brad Schwieger.

The Material Histories symposium and exhibition involved the Tea Project, which is a creation of Aaron Hughes and Amber Ginsburg – Aaron served in Iraq, and his experience on the ground led him to become an artist when he returned to the states. He has been doing tea performances every since. Amber became involved a few years ago when Aaron reached out to her, asking for help to slipcast almost 800 styrofoam cups; the cups were modeled from cups that were confiscated from prisoners of Guantanamo Bay, who would scrawl flowers all over the cups with their fingernails. The cups were considered a ‘security risk’, and were confiscated, evaluated, and thrown away. The exhibition included hundreds of these cups, marked with the names and countries of prisoners. We also got to participate in one of Aaron’s tea performances, where he makes and serves tea while speaking about his experiences turning down hospitality from ‘enemies’ in the Middle East, and facilitates a dialogue about human rights, war, kindness and humanity.

Another piece by Shay Church was built onsite over a wooden frame (the clay is raw and you can see a bit of the frame through the cracks and splits, and also on the inside containing the Buddha figure).

We also got to tour Matt Wedel’s studio, where he’s built massive kilns and developed creative mechanisms to make and fire his giant crazy sculptures – seeing a little bit of his process and talking with him was really fascinating.

Our last stop was in Zanesville, OH at the Zanesville Prize, a show that awards $30,000 in prize money each year. I’ve included a few images from that show, including work by Peter Christian Johnson, Brian Caponi, Jamie Bates Slone, and Crista Ames.

Because of this art vacay, I didn’t get a ton of work done on the home front. But, I did finish my bumpy pod boy, here it is with a fresh new orafice.