Illinois State University Wonsook Kim School of Art presents Making Mud Matter, a collection of work created by students in the Students’ Independent League In Ceramic Arts (SILICA). Artists included in this exhibition include graduate students Japheth Asiedu-Kwarteng and Richard Oliver Reed and undergraduate students Lydia Borko, Chris Aaron, Mya Hildreth, Cody Miller, and Alanna Veitch. Making Mud Matter is the sixth exhibition featured at the Illinois State University Student Art Gallery within the Central Illinois Regional Airport (CIRA).

The exhibition is on view from January 31, 2022, through April 29, 2022. The opening reception scheduled for Wednesday, February 2 has been postponed and will be rescheduled.

Making Mud Matter is an exhibition of works that display a diverse approach to the use of ceramic material for expression.­ Topics and themes ranging from the interpretation of work concerned with human connection and mental illness, the body’s relation to identity and time, feminine craft, transnational identity, the complexities of predictability when working as an artist, to playfully whimsical experiments in material all highlight ceramic’s ability to serve as a versatile canvas for manifesting ideas. This versatility is evident in how each artist utilizes clay. Some artists utilize the clay as a sedentary and heavy material, others actively deny and activate the tension of forcing ceramic to be light and airy, while others chose to honor and question the tradition of ceramic as a medium for vessels. All these approaches enrich and enliven ceramic as a material for investigation and growth, showing the possibilities for how we make mud matter.

Chris Aaron

Artwork by undergraduate ceramic student Chris Aaron
Chris Aaron, I Don’t Believe In Fate. Courtesy of the artist.

“This art intends to inspire emotion within the viewer and act as a subtle narrative. While I am attempting to inspire emotion in the viewer, I am also processing my own emotions. My pieces embody such human experiences as mental illness and loss of relationships. These pieces work in an abstract way to help the viewer ask questions within themselves about relationships and mental health in their own life. Though each piece is abstract, the figural nature of them reads as almost bodily. Because of this relation to the human body, the viewer may then be nudged in the direction of comparing my experiences to their own. I do find myself telling my own story through each piece, as they are all deeply entwined with my personal experience with each topic. Although my pieces speak to my life, I appreciate that the structures can be read differently by different viewers, due to their life experiences. Though my background may be different from others, most people can relate to such things as sadness and loss. This community is very important to me as an artist. Each piece is made with earthenware clay and finished with an acrylic surface.”

Japheth Asiedu-Kwarteng

Artwork by graduate ceramic student Japheth Asiedu-Kwarteng
Japheth Asiedu-Kwarteng, Don’t Give Up On Me 2. Courtesy of the artist.

“My work explores the communicative potentials of fabric and fibers to highlight and discuss the complexities and experiences of the diaspora – separation, nostalgia, fear, anxiety, rejection, acceptance, etc. It is my diary of commemoration of my feelings and memories as an individual with a transnational identity.”

Lydia Borko

Artwork by undergraduate ceramic student Lydia Borko
Lydia Borko, One Missed Assignment Away From Complete. Courtesy of the artist.

“I am currently working with the incredible sensitivity of ceramic material to explore ideas related to the conscious, the subconscious, emotions, and how we as humans experience these components through our bodies: the experience of emotions as chemical reactions, thoughts as brain synapses, etc. The way that time, change, and experience interact works together to create identity. How we move through time in a linear fashion while the totality of this experience affects us all at once, defining who we are at this moment, and determining how we will experience our lives going forward.”

Mya Hildreth

Artwork by undergraduate ceramic student Mya Hildresh
Mya Hildreth, Mugs. Courtesy of the artist.

“I create functional pottery inspired by the aesthetics and experiences surrounding rural architecture and landscapes, stemming from my childhood growing up in a small farm town. In an effort to reclaim my lost childhood innocence, I have adopted playful, meditative making techniques, and incorporated feminine craft into my ceramic work. The duality between my influences results in a physical manifestation of my identity and newly affirmed pride in being a female maker. My creation process is evident in the handmade qualities of my utilitarian work in a way that impacts the experiences and subsequent memories my objects create and hold onto through everyday use in domestic spaces. This fosters a unique connection between the user, the maker, and the object.”

Cody Miller

Artwork by undergraduate ceramic student Cody Miller
Cody Miller, Fractured 2. Courtesy of the artist.

“My current work explores my mindset when creating my artwork. Any moment that I’m creating ceramic pieces, my mind is always going in multiple directions. As an artist, I find it difficult to stick with one thought or idea and execute it. Any ideas or thoughts I develop are endlessly changing and taking me in a new direction. Even with a solid concept in my practice, each piece is still different from one another.”

Richard Oliver Reed

Artwork by graduate ceramic student Richard Oliver Reed
Richard Oliver Reed, The Earth From Above. Courtesy of the artist.

“The Earth from Above utilizes the aesthetics of early 90’s Japanese videogames to investigate the division between play and daily life. In a time where our play spaces and workspaces are combined in digital computer technology there is little differentiation between them. Interplaying the virtual and the analog by confusing the perception of painted ceramic with colored light and shadow illustrates this ambiguity.”

Alanna Vietch

Artwork by undergraduate ceramic student Alanna Veitch
Alanna Veitch, Simultaneous. Courtesy of the artist.

“I create organic sculptures that speak to the duality of otherness by using biomorphic constructions. This is expressed by using references to natural entities ranging from microbial to visible lifeforms. These forms themselves speak about ethereality. The fragility, tattered edges, and surface decoration are references to otherness. These entities transcend into a mystical realm where they are celebrated.”

SILICA’s primary objective is to encourage and develop the interest in and production of ceramic art at Illinois State University. As a registered student organization in the Wonsook Kim School of Art, SILICA works to expose student artists to real-world experience through visiting artist lectures and workshops, scheduled sales of work from the department’s ceramic students, trips to the NCECA (Nation Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) conference, and by encouraging research into professional ceramic art practices including exhibitions. 

The Student Art Gallery within the Central Illinois Regional Airport is a mission-central component of the Wonsook Kim School of Art at Illinois State University. The CIRA Student Art Gallery is located across from the main entryway inside the terminal building at 3201 East Empire Street, Bloomington. Gallery hours are consistent with the operating hours of the airport. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit FineArts.IllinoisState.Edu/Airport-Gallery. To arrange a special accommodation, please contact Wonsook Kim School of Art at or (309) 438-5622. Follow Wonsook Kim School of Art on Facebook and Instagram.