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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

Narratives in Clay

“The world will ask you who you are; if you don’t know, the world will tell you.” Carl Jung. Artist Magda Gluszek's explores her fascination with the human tendencies of consumption, self-preservation, and societal behaviors versus animalistic instincts with her fascinatingly complex clay masterpieces. Magda’s ceramic technique is to build a form of solid clay before hollowing out the inside. Her use of epoxy resins and acrylic paints allows her flexibility in communicating the journey for truth in the human psyche through clay.

She was born and raised in Liverpool, New York. According to Magda, she was fortunate to have had excellent high school, college, and graduate school teachers who influenced her creativity and encouraged her to pursue an art career. Magda's educational foundation was developed at the State University of New York College at Fredonia, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Ceramics. She subsequently relocated to the University of Florida to complete her Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics. Following the completion of her M.F.A., Magda worked as a resident artist at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and the Roswell Art Center West in Roswell, Georgia. She served as an Artist in Residence International at C.R.E.T.A. Rome, the Skopelos Foundation for the Arts in Greece, and La Fragua in Belalcazar, Spain. Magda is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, her work is exhibited nationally and internationally, and she instructs workshops for nationally recognized art centers, including Santa Fe Clay, Reitz Ranch Center for the Ceramic Arts, and Clay Arts Vegas.

In 2011, Magda moved to Lakeside, Arizona, to assume a position as a full-time college professor teaching art and as the art gallery director at Northland Pioneer College in Show Low, Arizona. Magda's studio space is in the garage of her home. "Most of my art is created during the summer when I am not teaching. I enjoy opening the garage door and windows to let in natural light and the sights and sounds of my surrounding yard and garden." Her inspiration springs from various sources, such as, "My husband Ryan David Orr is a singer and songwriter; I admire his creative work and find living with another creative person motivates me and supports my creative journey." Magda nurtures a unique outlook on the human condition, inspiring her provocative, curious, and often unsettling sculptural pieces. She says, "As humans, we constantly present ourselves to one another, both intentionally and subconsciously. Our body postures, facial expressions, and mannerisms are visual clues to our inner worlds. Although we carefully cultivate our image, we don't always express what we intend." Magda's interest is in the gap between what we think we project and how others see us.

"Figurative imagery is my favorite form of artistic expression. I love a good story, and it's impossible for me not to see a narrative when I look at a figure." Clay is Magda’s primary medium because it can be almost anything. However, she claims not to be a ceramic purist; instead, it is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. She begins with a sketch and then builds a small maquette to work out the figure's positioning and details of the pose. According to Magda, "It's important to capture the fresh feeling and liveliness in the figures during the planning process. Detailing the sculpture begins once the body is roughed out." The hollowing of the figure requires several precision steps, ensuring the clay sections are drying correctly and allowing the figure to be placed together into a finished product. Magda uses the mixed media approach to add unexpected elements of color and texture. One thing is for sure: Magda is a skilled alchemist of her media.

How we cultivate our self-presentation as a narrative can be louder than what we might say about ourselves when we tell our story. Artist Magda Gluszek is a member of Body Narrative and a Council Member of the Artlink Artist Council. She continues her quest for narratives that unwittingly reveal aspects of our personalities we might not be aware of or prepared to share. Sometimes, the stories are very individual expressions, and at other times, they reflect the narrative of our collective culture, the alternate between performance and truth. Determine performance and truth through Magda's exhibits at Practical Art in Phoenix, Arizona, at the Mesa Arts Center Museum in Mesa, Arizona, The Sedona Arts Center in Sedona, Arizona, and The Art Center in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Photo Credit: Lisa Olson

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