Vol. 17, No. 1 August 24, 2000 Issue

Artist energized by beauty of Kansas farmlands

By Julie Rausch



David Hiltner, assistant professor of ceramics, was inspired by an aerial view of Kansas croplands and by quilts to carve these patterns into pieces for his current show in the Clayton Staples Gallery.

A WSU faculty member is exhibiting wheel-thrown clay jars, bowls and plates inspired by an aerial view of crops and by intricate quilting patterns at the Clayton Staples Gallery until Sept. 15.

David Hiltner, assistant professor of ceramics, calls his show "Prairie Land Processor."

Carved in the clay are landscape and crop patterns inspired by an aerial view of Kansas. While flying from Wichita to California on his recent honeymoon, Hiltner was energized by the beauty of the shapes and colors of the Kansas farmlands.

Hiltner’s wife, Maggy, an artist who works with stitched imagery and mixed media textiles, sparked her husband’s interest in creating textile and quilting patterns in the clay. "I’m an admirer of handmade, one-of-a-kind works of art," says Hiltner.

The process for each piece is time consuming.

After the clay is thrown and the vessel is formed, the crop- or quilt-inspired patterns are carved into each piece. After the pieces dry they are fired for the first time to prepare them for the glaze firing. Before the firing the pieces are brushed or sprayed with glazes before a second firing, when salt is thrown into a hard brick kiln heated to 2,350 degrees Fahrenheit, which forms a glaze from the sodium vapor by attaching to the alumina and silica in the clay.



David Hiltner carves patterns into a platter for his current show.

The jars, which stand about 18 inches tall, have lids shaped like round hay bales or grain storage roofs.

This summer, Hiltner won best of show and the juror’s award for his ceramic works in a national ceramic exhibition at Nicholls State University in Tribodaux, La. He also exhibited work at Carnegie Center for the Arts in Dodge City, Kan. Hiltner also received a WSU summer research grant, which he used to build a fast, firewood-burning kiln with his students.

Hiltner received a bachelor of fine arts degree in ceramics in 1993 from WSU, and he completed his master of fine arts degree at Syracuse University in New York. He joined the WSU faculty in 1999.

Hours for the Clayton Staples Gallery in McKnight Art Center are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. Free admission.



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