Thorland Company


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John Beckelman Exhibition

Into Stillness: On the Wings of Butterflies
May 19 - June 10, 2022

John Beckelman will be opening an exhibition of new artwork in the Cherry Center Space on the first floor of the Cherry Building, 329 Tenth Avenue SE.  

An opening reception will be held Thursday, May 19, from 5:00 – 7:00 pm. 

The exhibition is comprised of three different, yet related, groups of work: 

  1. Paintings on paper and wood
  2. Small sculptures created from fired ceramic parts combined with other clay and non-clay materials and, finally, 
  3. Dimensional paintings of wood and clay meant to suggest the human heart. The primary material in all of the work is clay - which has been stabilized and hardened with oil or acrylic binders,

In the paintings, images are slowly built up using clay and other materials, such as oil and acrylic paints, enamels, graphite, powdered pigments, encaustic and gold leaf. These paintings attempt to gently entice the viewer into the inner landscapes and interior spaces of our imagination and memory. To this end, the sense of perceptual space is purposely ambiguous and the image references are often topographic or cosmographic. The small sculptures suggest containers mostly, and occasional bottle-like forms. They’re composed of fired clay parts (broken fragments of things past), clay elements made of unfired, stabilized clay – and a variety of other materials, such as glass, oil and acrylic paints, oil stains, powdered pigments and gold leaf. The dimensional paintings, made of thin wooden armatures, found sticks, twigs, steel cable and twine – are all partially covered with clay, which, again, has been stabilized with oil or acrylic binders. They are finished with powdered pigments, oil stains and paints. The abstracted forms are meant to suggest the human heart, with secondary formal references to primitive screens and shields.

Beckelman says of the work, “while I often uses a number of different materials in my work, clay is the material that most informs the things that I make. Having worked with clay, in a variety of forms and formats - and in all its varied physical states - for over forty years now, I find that the elemental character and expressive potential of clay still continues to intrigue me. In all the work, there is for me a curious intersection between the enduring, seemingly timeless character of clay, both fired and raw - and the fleeting, yet wonderful, impermanence of phenomena in the world in which we live. There seems to be a visceral, persistent, almost universal, appeal to clay, which is like no other material”.

All of the work in the exhibition has been completed within the last year in Beckelman’s studio at the Iowa Ceramics Center and Glass Studio, in the Cherry Building.

Representative Image titles and descriptions:


  1. Darkness Falling
  2. Into Stillness
  3. On the Wings of Butterflies
  4. HeartSong
  5. HeartSong (Detail)