2021-2022 Mentorship Program Gallery Show – Garden of Artful Delights

“Garden of Artful Delights”!  Our second mentorship show in the Jan Johansen Gallery. 

Our second Mentorship pair from our 2021-2022 Emerging artist mentorship for 55+ program is Franny Hyde and Ann Phillippi.  Their artwork will be shown in the Jan Johansen Gallery opening on Saturday August 13 from 1-3.  It’s been fun watching these two work together, learn together and become good friends throughout this year.  As they wrap up their work together, I asked them some questions so they could reflect on this time together. 

What have you learned from this year as a mentor?

Franny: “I have learned the benefits of mentorship programs, and how valuable they are to the mentor and the mentee. A person always gets more out of mentorship, and volunteer programs than one expects!”

Ann: “I appreciate Franny’s background in the various ceramic hand-building processes and her good advice particularly in the areas of drying, glazing and firing large scale pieces. We were like eager beavers who learned from each other in weekly analysis, feedback, visiting several museums or art exhibits around the Twin Cities area and sharing our art and education backgrounds.”

What has surprised you?

Franny: “I was pleasantly surprised with how well Ann and I worked together, professionally and personally.”

Ann: “I squirreled away many good ideas from friends and family along this mini art journey. It isn’t a surprise that I have amazing friends and family members in my life but it was remarkable how active my friends and family encouraged me during this project. I appreciated their enthusiasm, check-ins and the way they followed my progress: Are you on track to complete by August? (yes); I was tickled by their suggestions: “Wouldn’t it be cool if you put dry ice inside the Dragon’s mouth for your exhibition” (maybe?); Are you video documenting this for your grandchildren? (No, but I do have lots of in-process photos.  I will keep in mind videoing for my next project) “Please make postcards! I would love to buy postcards of the animals.” (I can do that); ”I think the sheep’s curls would be cool if they were an iridescent white.” (implemented this idea) “I cannot believe that you are almost to the finish line.  Finish Strong.” (I will, thanks for always having my back.)”

What has challenged you?

Franny: “Any time you work with deadlines, in this case for the show at the end of the program, you have challenges of time and space. Timing for the process of working with clay: drying the sculpture, firing in the kiln, glazing, more firing. Space for making sure your pieces fit in the kiln. The challenges are in planning and measuring.

Ann: “Probably keeping focus on the 12 animals because I can be like Raven, distracted by shiny things. I often caught myself staring down a new path…I could add…What if…I wonder…How would…

Mostly creating 12 relatively large-scale sculptures to be completed in a short amount of time (8 months from November to July) challenged me especially since it takes much longer to dry and longer time periods to have the kiln remain in the preheat stage to lessen the chance of pieces exploding. The drying process was definitely the most challenging because it took many weeks for these pieces to dry before moving onto the next process. In the meantime, I visited zoos, farms and forests to take photographs of the same 12 animals.  That was certainly a fun side trip!”

How has your artwork grown?

Franny: “My artwork grew with my experimentation with colors, textures, and multiple firings.”

Ann: “My artwork has literally grown in stature.  I enjoyed making the pieces larger than a foot in diameter.  I found out how much fun it is to make pieces that were about 2-3 feet long or/and tall. It’s not much fun, though, trying to find a place that will kiln fire pieces that are over 3 feet tall!  My husband, Tom, has now put parameters on that for me!  He said I can only make ceramic pieces that fit into the size of our kiln. Wait! I don’t think he said anything about buying a larger kiln.  Cue the hamster wheels…”

What piece is your favorite piece that you created during this time, what was the process in creating this piece?

Franny: “My favorite piece from this time is my “Mermaid, Stay”. I took a lot more time to make this piece, and experimented with materials more than I usually do. I used crystalline glazes for the first time and added Borax to make the stones look wet. I did several firings as I experimented with colors and textures. Fortunately, my experiments worked out!”

Ann: “My 6th grade art students would often ask this question, “Who is your favorite student?”  

I would reply, “You are my favorite.”  

And another would ask, “Aren’t I your favorite?”  

“You are.”

Another piped up, “What about me?”  

“Yes,” I would add, “You are my favorite.” 

The observant student in the class then concluded, “Wait a minute, Don’t you know?  We are ALL her favorites!”  

“Precisely,” I beamed, “ You are all my favorites.” 

They were my favorites for different reasons.  It’s the same with my artwork.  If you pushed me to pick one, it would be Dragon but please don’t tell the other animals. No wait! Really, Snake is my favorite, I meant to say, Rabbit– do you see the Rabbit hole we are descending?” 

This is going to be a very fun and exciting show.  Plan to attend the opening on Saturday August 13 from 1-3, or whenever you can stop on by.  Then you can decide which animal is your favorite. -Angie Renee

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