A new exhibit opened in the Ryniker-Morrisen Gallery on February 9th. The gallery, located on the main floor of Tech Hall, had previously been hosting a display of local photographers’ work. The new exhibit showcases the ceramic work of five long-term residents of the Red Lodge Clay Center.
The artists include husband and wife Lars Voltz and Joyce St. Clair Voltz, Raven Halfmoon, Allison Cochran, and Matt Fiske. All are members of the Clay Center’s year long residency program. According to the Center’s website, the long-term residency program provides studio and living space as well as a monthly stipend in exchange for twenty hours of work per week at the Center. The website describes the program as being “ideal for committed individuals interested in pursuing the development of their professional, artistic careers.”
When asked about their experiences with the Clay Center and the residency program, respondents highlighted the Center’s immense support of the artists and their work. This allows them to focus on improving their artistic careers, interests, and specialties. As Voltz explained, being a resident gives them the “ability to dive into what [they] want and really go deep.”
This was echoed by Halfmoon, who described the program as a “great way to figure out what you want to do” as an artist. She added that being a resident allowed her to “experience the full scope of everything you can do” in the ceramic arts. Halfmoon further explained that the Center is a “great place to experience working in a gallery” as well as teaching ceramics classes to the Clay Center’s students as part of the residency’s required 20 hours per week of work.
In addition to the long-term residency, the Clay Center also offers a short-term residency program with a duration of two to eight weeks. This program is aimed at artists who have a special project, desire to invest in their studio abilities, or just need uninterrupted time to work. Both Cochran and Halfmoon attended the Center’s short-term program before reapplying and returning as long-term residents.
As Cochran explained, the opportunity to get a “foot in the door” as an undergraduate through the short-term program was vital, adding that the “ability to get a feel of the area … before committing” to the long-term residency was integral to helping her decide to return as a long-term resident.
Mrs. Voltz also talked about the relationship between Rocky Mountain College and Red Lodge Clay Center from her perspective as a resident of the Center, stating that it has been “beneficial” for her and her artistic experiments. “The [Ryniker-Morrisen] Gallery encourages … new ideas” through a “mix of intimacy,” she added, comparing the relatively insulated Clay Center to the more visited gallery on the RMC campus.
The gallery provides feedback from an audience outside of the Clay Center, allowing the artists to evaluate how their experimental work might be received by a more general population of viewers. The biggest outcome of this for Mrs Voltz is an affirmation of her “confidence in [her] artistic skills,” a definite, tangible benefit of showing her work to a broader, but still receptive, audience.
Overall, the common theme among the artists was appreciation for the support of the Red Lodge Clay Center and for the opportunity to display their work in the Ryniker-Morrisen Gallery on campus and receive feedback.
The Red Lodge Clay Center’s resident artists’ work will be on display in the Ryniker-Morrisen Gallery until March 2nd. Gallery hours are 9:00am to 4:00pm, Monday to Friday. Additionally, the Clay Center welcomes visitors, and hosts its own gallery and shop, located in Red Lodge.