‘Hearts’ of a potter are in the Hoosier

The wheat fields of Indiana are a golden flowing carpet that stretches over acres of well-worked land, broken only by lush green wooded areas that appear to watch over the space.  To some this land appears as nothingness, bare and void of people and noise.  To others, it is the closest thing to heaven that you will ever find on earth.  Of course, very few people remain here because they have to see the world, but then some return to escape what was found in the world, yet although you can go home again, it tends to never be the same.

     Zach Medler works with ceramics and sculptures that present a dignity to rural America while using undertones of Middle America realism.  His work has been described as Post-Regionalist and Post-Media by creating narrative scenes that use social environments with repeated rural imagery.  Printed slabs, painting and glazing are the most pronounced methods used in blending a fairy tale together that renders another story.

     One of Medler’s installations is called “County Fair” and has an array of the cultural traditions found at any carnie festival.  The Ferris wheel, the carousel, pick-up-the-duck game and bottle toss are typical of a small town get-together, but they also involve participation from the viewers by turning cranks, catching fish and moving pieces around.  Although fun to watch from a safe distance from the comfort of Middle America, the scene captures an eerie undertone of today’s issues and values through interaction.

    Each piece that Medler works has an underlying meaning, if the viewer allows it to be captured.  “Erosion 2008” was selected as a permanent installation at the Beard Arts Center at Indiana Wesleyan University.  The cracking and erosion of the rural scenes represent the loss of small business and culture of rural communities.  It is considered a fundamental comment on Middle America and depicts what many close their eyes to.

     Although Medler grew up around Indianapolis, he spent much time with his grandparents in Jay County, the very heart of farm country. He is a graduate of Purdue University where his major was religion and art his minor.  It was not until graduate school that throwing and designing pots, seemed to appear as something more than making something with your hands.  Now retired Professor Dan Engelke and current Professor Sigrid Zahner were a huge part of Medler’s awakening to art as more than a hobby.  Zach is quick to point out that countless artists and everyone that he has worked with has affected his learning process, and the way he sees his work.

     “Dan always cut to the chase with me and had a great eye for form and arrangement. He really helped push me in the right direction and continues to be there for me,” said Zach.

     Zach and his wife live in Portland, Indiana, a region where he has a chance to feel the uniqueness of the Midwest through travel, offering him ideas for his next venture. Aside from making works of art, which can be viewed at: www.zmed-ceramics.com; he teaches ceramics and mixed media at Arts Place Portland Center.

Editor’s note: For the print version view – www.scribd.com/arttoartpalette/documents

Published by on July 2012. Filed under Archives, Art-to-Art Palette Journal, Cover Section, Potter's Shed Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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