A strange forest has grown inside Laramie County Community College.
The Esther and John Clay Fine Arts Gallery at LCCC is hosting the exhibit “Trees” by Stephanie Kantor, a ceramics artist and current Resident Artist at RedLine in Denver. The exhibit will be in the gallery until Dec. 4.
“Trees” features abstract, plant-like sculptures and enormous banners with the shapes of plants on them.
“I focus on landscape, my own created landscape, using all kinds of plants,” Kantor said.
Kantor said she found inspiration for “Trees” in the trees of life sculptures from Mexico. Kantor said she talks to her parents about different types of plants, has taken up gardening, and does a lot of online research to find new plant forms and inspiration.
“I like to think of it as a dedication to nature,” Kantor said.
The rhododendron bush and its flowers were the inspiration for several pieces. Kantor said this plant has a personal value to her.
“It’s a family tradition, “Kantor said. “Every year my grandfather would take pictures of me and my sister standing in front of this plant.”
Kantor spends a lot of time researching online or in libraries, looking at historic ceramics and the art of other cultures.
“I look at the usage or imagery of an object, and try to adopt that imagery,” Kantor said.
Kantor builds her art in series, using her research as inspiration for each piece.
“As I build, they morph into alien things,” Kantor said.
Each series takes about 2 years of work. Some of Kantor’s art is made from shards of old sculptures of hers. She uses these shards to create mosaics, leaves and flower petals. Kantor also has buckets full of pinched terracotta made to look like coins that she used for a previous project, and she recycles these as well, turning them into flowers.
In the past, Kantor has used objects such as calligraphy brush racks and tulipieres, vessels used to hold tulips. The art she makes inspired from them is often scaled up in size.
Kantor also has set up a pop-up store at the 16th Street Mall in Denver, in which she sells small cups, ashtrays, and other souvenir-like items she created.
Kantor has already visited LCCC and given a presentation to the art students, but her work can still be viewed in the gallery.