A vessel takes on many different definitions and exists within a range of disciplines; from science and the blood to vessels that sail the wide open seas, all the way to ancient vessels that were used for water transportation or storage. The ways in which vessels are understood are also quite abstract and far-reaching. Artists have expanded what their thoughts around traditional vessels are, transcending categorization to include things like time, narrative, illness, humor, stereotype, and self-identification.
This exhibition explores the ever-expanding boundaries that are contained within and make up the idea of a vessel. What truly is a vessel, and how can we singularly contain its definition? The answer: we can’t. The vessel is at one time one thing and at the same time something completely different. A work of art can be a functional object and an idea can be an incubator. What is being contained and the container in which it is settled can morph, merge, or disappear completely. Creators are using the vessel as a means to understand something, to contain something, or to put something into a specific place and explore within that space.
Tyler Alpern, Virginia Diaz Saiki, thnhdnh, Personal Geographies (Becky Wareing Steele and Shannon Geis), Jane Glotzer, Andrea Gordon, Dylan Griffith, Brenda Jones, Hannah Leathers, Marsha Mack, Peter Manion, Evan Mann, Layl McDill, Andra Stanton, Lindsay Stripling, Robert Sunderman, Lucas Thomas, Chase Travaille
Read DARIA’s Exhibition Review Here
View the Exhibition
Soft Like Armor
This series pays homage to six surgeries I underwent from September 2017 to February 2021. My body was mangled, dislocated, rebuilt, traumatized, and disabled by them. After five years of struggling to ‘heal’ back to an able bodied standard, experiencing debilitating chronic pain, and being diagnosed with a chronic illness that was both the root cause of the injuries and my inability to heal, my body and mind screamed for a truce. The experience required me to soften my anger towards my failing body, relinquish typical expectations of what it means to heal, and access unending depths of forgiveness and deservedness for myself.
This series honors the way our bodies work to heal our wounds (physical and emotional) in ways we will never know. The cells that grow, the patterns that soften, the breaths that relinquish. All of the healing that happens on a cellular and energetic level that we aren’t able to celebrate or notice. The power our bodies hold to heal, unlearn, relinquish, and forgive without our knowing in order to keep us in the fight.
There was so much good in the pain
But the light was out
A sandstorm breathing down a candlestick’s neck
Not all bracelets are for decoration,
Not all drill holes are for furniture,
I’m held together by string,
The braided tissue of a stranger,
All by way of paperwork
Whose risk wasn’t just a papercut.
What happens when torture is deemed consensual
How did you do all of that to me while I was asleep
Only to wake up and realize I was still asleep
My eyes were closed
Movements were frozen but
My body kept recording.
My body is talking
It’s asking for so much healing,
Begging for some agency,
Little mini litigations,
With no verdict but forgiveness.
From the truce will come a presence in your pain.
Gold you’ll spin of your scars,
For the parts that will stay,
Heavy as lead.
You’ll spin shields,
Porous enough to breathe
Strong enough to forgive
A kingdom of stillness
Soft like armor.
My name is Hannah Leathers (she/they). I am an interdisciplinary artist originally from Atlanta, GA, currently working in painting, drawing, and tattooing. My work explores queering bodily forms and motifs as a way to process emotions, experiences, and bodily trauma. I use a stream of consciousness drawing practice to record emotional and traumatic experiences. Sometimes I know what my drawings are about, sometimes I don’t. Creating original marks and drawings through movement makes my identities and trauma more visible to me, and more abstract… and that feels good.
I hold a BFA in Studio Art, and a Master’s in Art Education from the University of Georgia. I currently live and work in Denver, CO.
Halfway to Nowhere
Having immigrated to the United States at a young age, I didn’t feel attached to Vietnam yet felt like an outsider in my new “home.” The duality in palette and composition reference my experience as a Vietnamese immigrant to the United States. Using silhouettes from found vessels as a framing device I create a visual language that fuses these two worlds. The commentary focuses on consumerism, constructions of cultural identity and my reflections on contemporary events. These spaces serve as mind maps, with symbols & memories nested within one another, an odd mix of old & new. My imagined landscapes invite viewers to ponder the immigrant experience.
Thinh currently lives and works out of Boulder, CO. He was born in Saigon, Vietnam and spent 5 years of his childhood there before immigrating to the US. Today, he works primarily in printmaking with an emphasis on silkscreen and digital illustrations. His work has been exhibited publicly and held in private & public collections across the U.S, including the Mid-America Print Council (MAPC), Matrix Press (MT), University of Colorado-Boulder, and University of Wyoming.
I am an artist, painter and social instigator holed up in a log cabin in Colorado. My artwork reveals that I am not frightened by the unusual, and embrace unconventional beauty. My formal education took me from Los Angeles to Rome, and back to Colorado to earn my MFA with life altering experiences in between. Due to a comic twist of fate, my likeness anonymously appeared wrapped around the front and back covers of James Spada’s book “The Romantic Male Nude.” I am sure the irony of that was not lost to a few former lovers and mercifully, the image of me lays and lies hidden under the paper jacket. More honorably, my portrait of Yma Sumac was featured on the cover of her biography. I’ve authored some books and had numerous exhibitions of my paintings. The Library of Congress has preserved a digital archive of my work and career because of “its cultural and historic significance.” My works and collaborations have been included in exhibitions at the Kinsey Institute and are in their permanent collection. Gender, beauty, movement and form are some of the subjects I’ve explored in his many collaborations with other artists. A constant source of inspiration and learning are the college students of all ages that I’ve taught over the past years. As an amateur historian and pop culture archaeologist, my original research has revealed fascinating stories that sometimes are documented and retold in my paintings and have been recounted by others in several books and articles. Meeting pioneering artists Don Bachardy, Elver Barker, Robert Judson and Lloyd Rolfe brought together my love of art and deep interest and creative research in hidden gay history.
Jane Glotzer, mosaic artist, works exclusively with reclaimed materials. Her award winning contemporary reclaimed mosaic fine artwork has been exhibited publicly, online, nationally and across the Colorado front range. Salvaging and working with discarded castoffs her art is often whimsical in appearance, but always thoughtful in its environmental message.
Jane regularly donates her art to charities including BMoCA, Boulder Chamber Orchestra, Boulder County Aids Project, Children’s Hospital, Colorado Chautauqua, Community Food Share, Denver Youth Artists Orchestra, Downtown Boulder Inc., Frequent Flyers Productions, and 3rd Law Dance Theater, among many others, and has been commissioned for a wide variety of public and private mosaic projects, including memorial benches. She has also created several painted public artworks for local Colorado municipalities.
She is a member of Colorado Mosaic Artists, NoBo Art District, Open Studios Boulder, Foothills Art Center Golden and a featured artist at R Gallery in Boulder
I am interested in experimenting with many of the formal aspects of abstract art both, in two- and three- dimensions. Ten years ago, I began painting and spent time working in every genre from portraits to landscapes and eventually became captivated with abstract painting. The ability to create a non-representational image was unexpected and freeing. I discovered a layer of creativity in myself that I didn’t know existed.
The deeper I immersed myself into the world of abstraction the more it became an avenue into learning about history, art history, philosophy, music, contemporary art as well as all the formal elements of creating art. For example, through a mentorship I learned about John Cage and 4’33” and Black Mountain College, through a reading group I read John Berger’s essays discovering new artists and experiencing known artists from a new perspective, through joining an artist collective I am challenged to find connections with people from varying cultures and to learn their history, and the list can go on. I look forward to opening up the door wider to so many amazing artists and ideas.
I paint intuitively. However, after periods of contemplation of each piece, I consider more carefully the formal elements of line, composition, patterns, dimension, depth, movement, and colors. I find inspiration from artists of every genre, my surroundings, fabrics, patterns, and colors.
I don’t yet understand why but a few years ago I felt compelled to make work three- dimensionally. I simultaneously began learning ceramics and large-scale paper-Mache. I continue to paint and work in both and experiment with other materials like wood, yarn, polycarbon, 3D pens, and handmade paper, adding them to what are now my mixed media three-dimensional paintings. Each new material is a new texture, way of mark making, or shape, coaxing the eye to look more closely and to open up interpretations.
Dylan Griffith is an Arizona born artist and illustrator based out of Denver, Colorado since 2017. Drawing on a library of cultural and personal symbols, his work explores the material and metaphysical interaction between people and their environment, specifically in the American West.
Brenda Jones is a contemporary sculptor who lives and works in Colorado. She grew up in southeast Kansas in the 1960s and her work pays homage to the gender roles embedded in that time period and rural American place. Her sculptures are typically ceramic dress forms with narrative imagery on the surface that appears nostalgic and delicate while at the same time critiquing traditional women’s roles or expectations. Jones states, “I tell stories in my work and I invite you to interpret these on various levels as you take the visual journey.”
As an elementary school student, she found it lucky to be able to trade her drawings in school for answers to homework and continued her interest in art in high school where she was mentored by a Japanese art teacher. Taking advice from her teacher, she earned a Bachelor’s of Art Education at Wichita State University as well as a Master’s of Art in Art History and Ceramics. She has taught these subjects in both Kansas and Colorado.
Jones’ artwork has been shown in exhibits across the U.S. She has won best of show in several exhibits and has receives scholarships to study at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Anderson Ranch in Aspen, and Fulbright travel studies to Argentina and Japan. Most recently she was a short term ceramics resident at Red Lodge Clay Center in Montana. She is represented by Strecker-Nelson gallery in Manhattan, KS, City Arts in Wichita, KS and Abbey Lane Gallery in Creede, CO.
Marsha Mack holds an MFA in Ceramics and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Women’s and Gender Studies from Syracuse University, and a BFA in Ceramics from San Francisco State University. Working primarily in ceramic and found objects, Marsha’s artistic practice complicates the relationship between sculpture and grocery shopping. Her ongoing interest in cultural consumption and the formation of identity serves as wellspring for embellished objects and installations that play to the subconscious, honoring playfulness and introspection as equals. Marsha is the Gallery Manager of Fresh A.I.R. Gallery, a nonprofit art gallery and studio, a Professor of Ceramics at The Ohio State University, and a practicing artist who has presented projects and exhibitions with the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (Denver, CO), Black Cube Nomadic Museum (Englewood, CO), The Galleries of Contemporary Art (Colorado Springs, CO), and Skylab (Columbus, OH), among others. Marsha was recently the summer 2022 Artist in Residence at the Cultural Art Center (Columbus, OH). Her solo exhibition Expedition: Motherland will open September 2023 at Understudy (Denver, CO).
Flowers included in the exhibition generously donated by Fiori Boulder
Peter Manion is a native Saint Louisan who returned in 2000 after studying and living in Chicago and Louisville, KY. Though he completed his studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Peter spent nearly 8 years away from the art world. For the past three years, however, he has returned to his studio and to painting, making and showing his work continuously. Focused on the idea and the process of making a work of art, Peter’s work has been evolving, challenging both him and his audience. Using an assortment of tools, techniques, and mediums, his paintings contain subtle abstract details and images built around a central form that frequently demands of the viewer to ask how is that done?
Once upon a time each of us was a little kid. Everything was nonsense. We tried to figure it out. We wondered about everything. We wondered what was in the cupboard, the drawers, and boxes. We wondered how the calculator worked, or the dishwasher or a watch. We wondered what our stuffed animals did at night. We wondered what all the symbols at on the top row of the keyboard were for. We wondered what it would be like to live in a tree, underwater or in outer space.
For me making my art helps me keep this magical doorway to wonderment open. I am drawn to imagery that sparks that feeling of unknown and mystery like cupboards, drawers or placing everyday objects (like a keyhole, a lollipop, a chair etc.) in an incongruent setting (a flower, a fountain, a fish etc.). I like to create metaphors such as “Just think How Books are Like Bird Houses”- are they? I leave you thinking they are but you get to come up with your own reasons why.
My technique and materials are also very mysterious. I use primarily polymer clay with the ancient technique of millefiore. Tiny images that cover every surface of my sculptures inevitably make the viewer wonder “How did she do that?” And even though I have been doing it for twenty years it still seems amazing that I can create a tiny picture can be inside a chunk of clay. I also like to incorporate found objects and my own colored pencil sketches. Often I will start with a mysterious object found at a thrift store or a sketch and let these be a starting point on an artist journey where I have little idea of the outcome.
As I am creating I am asking all kinds of questions that entertain my imagination and when the piece is complete the viewer can start asking questions: “What happens next?” “What do all those magic potions do?” “Why is there a puzzle piece in the cupboard?” “What kind of vegetables do they sell at an underwater farmer’s market?”.
But once surrounded with my seemingly nonsensical world you start to recognize reality. When I created “She Made it Look Easy to Control the Rhino Puppet Show” I didn’t figure out that the Rhino was my husband until the piece was nearly finished. There is something universally comforting in seeing your struggles made light of or mirrored in art. Or sometimes it is the celebration of something wonderful like in “She Knew all The Best Ways to Deliver Word Kites”- I look at this piece and it makes me think of all the wonderful reading teachers I have known.
Some people come to my work thinking it is great for children but I really make my work for adults. I make it for everyone that loves to revisit that feeling of wonderment, magic and mystery that we all had as kids.
Shannon Geis is an oral historian and multimedia producer living and working in Denver, Colorado. Her focus is on documenting how we interact with the world around us in both the past and present. She has focused on location-specific exhibits, live events, tours, and historical research, and she is particularly interested in connecting places to the voices of those who have lived and worked there. You can view more of her work at shannongeis.net.
Becky Wareing Steele is an artist living and working in Denver, Colorado specializing in small scale sculpture. Her work deals with the commonalities that exist in our shared experiences through the examination of scale and environment. Through her sculptural and photographic work with 1:160 scale figures and 1:12 scale objects she explores the impact of scale and how it affects our perception of the world around us. This impact can also be found in the way we perceive ourselves in our environment. Wareing Steele holds a BA in Art History from Colorado State University with a focus on Intuit Art. You can view more of her work at beckywareingsteele.com.
What is Personal Geographies? Shannon Geis is a freelance audio and multimedia producer and an oral historian. Becky Wareing Steele is an artist specializing in small scale sculpture. Together, they’re launching a new collaborative art project which translates individuals’ memories of spaces they’ve occupied in the past into auditory and visual installations in the present.
Virginia is a Peruvian interdisciplinary artist and printmaker living in Denver, CO. She moved to the US in pursuit of a career in the visual arts. By a chance encounter she discovered printmaking during her college years and has been making prints ever since.
I make two- and three-dimensional textile pieces incorporating surface design techniques that represent themes of emotional and physical healing. I stitch the surfaces of my pieces with patterns that suggest my history of disability and my grief related to the suffering of others. Each object represents moments of meditation on the safety of solitude and the joy of connection.
My vessels refer to the hope for survival by both people and animals in a world filled with political strife, racism, and xenophobia, and the degradation of the environment due to climate change denied by too many and perpetuated by corporations whose goal is to make the rich richer.
I remember reading about the “Vietnamese Boat People” when I was in college, which led me to quit the esoteric studies I’d been pursuing and dedicate myself to a helping profession. Yet now, so many years later, “boat people” from more and more countries seek to escape violence and inequity, by land and sea, only to be turned away from relief, support, and kindness. My vessels, therefore, hold my heartache for these anguished souls.
Lindsay Stripling is a San Francisco based artist, illustrator and teacher. Her work is always coming from a place of layering, texture and experimentation. She likes to keep things playful and explore themes of nature, time, memory, community and psychology. Lindsay has shown her work nationally and internationally and has worked with clients like Target, Nike, Adobe and Lemonada Media.
Rob Sunderman graduated from the University of Iowa with a BFA, MA and MFA. He is a Fine Artist, Scenic Designer, Scenic Artist, and Associate Professor Emeritus of Theatre. He was the Resident Scenic Designer/Scenic Artist and Associate Professor of Theatre Design at Iowa State University for 21 years. Prior to his work at ISU, he was the Scenic Designer at Iowa Public Television for 16 years. He has designed and scenic painted over 282 shows during his career. He has received Iowa Film, National Broadcasting Designers, Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival awards for his scenic designs and many Fine Art awards. He has been a fine artist throughout his life. He has exhibited his work in over 270 local, national and international exhibitions. Rob’s artwork is best described by this quote from him, “Not limiting materials is so important in my work. I use whatever best conveys the subject or story that I am addressing. I recently have been working on pieces dealing with renewal, fleeting moments, human intervention of natural cycles in a variety of mediums. Almost all my work has to do with nature, humanities, intrusive nature, natural environment, climate change and all organic things. I want the work to convey a sense of beauty, but also confront the challenges we are faced with our environment, be hopeful and propose creative solutions.” He is currently exhibiting work nationally and is participating, as one of the artists, in a “Climate Change Planning Through Art” project. His art piece for this project is called “Crib in Crisis Encounter”. This is an interactive evolving art piece that has been exhibited many places in central Iowa. It is in its final phase of the project and will become a permanent sculpture piece.
Lucas Thomas is a multi-disciplinary artist from Colorado. He received his BFA from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2012. He went back to school in 2015 to get his Art Education license and has been teaching high school studio art at a school for gifted students in Thornton since 2017. Primarily a painter, he also designs and builds furniture, and since teaching, has been developing a ceramic practice focused on pottery and functional objects.
Inspired by his personal history being raised in the American South, Chase Travaille creates surreal sculptures that subvert the notion of the idyllic countryside. Dark Humor, transgressive thoughts, and desires are articulated in objects that invite a dialogue concerning sexuality, social class, and the inherent theatricality of southern culture. His current body of work Shard Amphora is focused on attaching the ceramic shards of different artists to rebuild new vessels as a response to the events of 2020 and its lingering aftermath into today. Chase received his MFA from Alfred University in 2019 and was awarded the Outstanding Student Achievement in Sculpture Award from the International Sculpture Center the same year. He has attended residencies internationally and finished his long-term residency at the Archie Bray Foundation in the summer of 2021. He currently lives and works in Northwest Arkansas.