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Kane Receives Rasmuson grant

Assistant Professor of Ceramics Jeremy Kane receives $12,000 Rasmuson fellowship grant

By Amy Fletcher, Juneau Empire

If you walked into a gallery anywhere in the country where 50 ceramists were displaying their art, you’d probably be able to pick out Jeremy Kane’s work without much trouble. Kane pairs his classic porcelain forms with imagery from popular culture, applied to the pots as decals; the resulting art is unique and completely unexpected.

“I thought it would be kind of fun to basically make the most expensive porcelain, really fine work that looks like it’d be in some museum, or in somebody’s house that’s really wealthy, and then bring it down in mundane and controversial dated images and things like that.”

Kane’s work creates both thematic and aesthetic tension: Between tradition and experimentation, high-art and popular culture, sophistication and tackiness, value and kitsch, challenging viewers expectations and pushing established boundaries. In a similar way, the timelessness of the classic forms he favors is offset by the nostalgic, dated feeling of the decals, which are reminiscent of designs found on diner mugs or Burger King glasses, the stickers on instrument cases and tattoos. Hot-rod flames are a particular favorite.

“My work is more about culture and life and aesthetics than it is about pottery, or than it is even about classical forms, even though I do reference a lot of classical forms in ceramics.”

Kane, a professor of ceramics at University of Alaska Southeast, will use his Fellowship Award from the Rasmuson Foundation to build a studio on his property in Auke Bay.

“At some point in time, you can’t be a successful artist if you don’t have a domain you can call your own,” he said. “And also I think it’s a great teaching tool.”

Kane said when he was in graduate school he benefited from spending time with his professors on their own turf, outside of the classroom, and hopes to provide that same creative atmosphere for his students. At UAS he spends a lot of time showing his students the “greatest hits” of ceramics, something he enjoys, but also wants to share with them the work he considers to be his art form.

“Most of my students have seen my finished work. They know what I do. I can do anything, but this is what I do the best, this is where my love is, in this work right here. When I teach them how to make things, I have a love of pottery, too, but its not what I exhibit or what I think is my artwork.”

Kane said he’s always been interested in creative pursuits and remembers making pots as a kid growing up in Ohio. In high school he became very intersted in music, both as a musician and a fan, and traveled around the country to see as many live shows as he could. He said he feels that experience on American highways and later in his bluegrass bands, Clark County in Fairbanks and The Great Alaskan Bluegrass Band in Juneau, fueled his interest in the imagery that later found voice in his art; many of his designs call to mind ‘70s truck stops and honky-tonk barrooms.

“It’s a little cynical about some of that stuff too, the chrome and the American flags -- I love that stuff. So its partially cynical and it’s also from the heart.”

Kane attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks and then received his masters in fine arts from Ohio University in 2003. The next year he was Taunt Fellow at the internationally recognized Archie Bray Foundation for the ceramic arts in Montana.

He has been teaching at UAS since 2004, and was recently part of the push to add a bachelor of arts program at the university, an effort spearheaded by art professor Jane Terzis and former professor Alice Tersteeg. The program, including the ceramics department, has been so successful that Kane said they are exhausting their resources. Pedar Dalthorp was recently hired, bringing the art department back up to three members.

“We need more space and we need a couple more faculty members in order to keep building the program,” Kane said. “It just keeps getting busier and busier and I don’t see it really going away.

For him that means that his classes are full of degreeseeking students, a change from the more eclectic, community-oriented classes of the past.

“All my classes fill with degree-seeking students,” he said. “And that’s the goal of a college, really. It’s not to put other people in the community out, but we’ve built enough awareness and people know we’re serious about what we’re doing out here, and I think they should be pretty stoked for the kids that in a small town are getting a good education.”

 
 

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