2023 Installations

Banana Chandeliers

Artists: Erika NJ Allen (Ceramics ’23)

Materials: Papier Mache, LED Lights, Link Chains ‘23

Statement: The Banana Chandeliers are inspired by tropical environments where banana plants grow in the humid, tropical regions of Central and South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia where there are hot temperatures and rainfall.

Bio: Erika NJ Allen is a Guatemalan born artist, and a first-generation college student. While pursuing her BFA, she had a hysterectomy that changed her life and practice’s trajectory. Using ceramics, fresh produce, and analog photography as vehicles, she seeks to engage life and death. As she continues to find ways in which clay and fruit can live together – just like a body lives with an implanted object – her journey to improve the human condition through art will go on. Each work of art visualizes Allen’s diet which plays a key role in her healing, both mentally and physically, while attempting to convey a feeling of resilience. The process of the ‘making’ has become therapeutic, allowing for vulnerabilities to become known and easy to share with the goal to encourage others to open to their own challenges and resilience.

It is through curiosity and experimentation while healing that she found her voice as an artist. And through that discovery she developed her own organic glaze from the produce she digests, which she uses in her ceramic work.


Offering Bowls

Artist: Chris Salas (Ceramics ’23)

Materials: Ceramic

Statement: My studio practice is a search for a particular mental state- the engaged and unconscious divergence and convergence of ideas that imbue themselves into objects. These objects become abstracted forms of personal experiences, relationships, conversations, research- all of which currently revolves around time, place, momentum, with a pervasive presence of the history of colonization of the Americas.

The Offering Bowl is a formal idea I have been working with since 2019. It began as a functional object whose purpose was to hold hot charcoal with which to place and burn incense. Inspired by ritual objects from ceremonies I participated in with Calpulli Teoxicalli while living in Tucson, AZ (Thank you, Chucho Ruiz). Within an altar space, it would be one of the few objects which can be actively engaged with. In this iteration, the Offering Bowl is a sculptural vessel taking the shape of an abstracted, larger-than-life, voluminous flower. When looking at the life cycle of plants, the blooming flower can act as a metaphor for the prime of life. The young plant spends all its energy growing into a structure that can support a plethora of flowers. After the flower blooms, the plant begins the process of decay, storing its energy for the next generation.

Chris Salas (they/them) is an artist and educator originally from Clawson, MI. They received a BA in Chemistry from Michigan State University and will be completing an MFA in Ceramics at Cranbrook Academy of Art in May 2023. After graduation, Chris will be attending a short residency at Township10 in North Carolina and after that will be moving to Chicago, IL for a Post-Graduate Teaching Fellowship at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.