Barbara Zech

An intuitive response to material is a key element in my work. This process oriented approach is partly inspired by teaching art to people with disabilities, as I have learned so much about art and live from my students. Working with my hands is essential to the investigation of my art. When it comes to surface treatment, I work in a spontaneous manner- adding texture, color, and sometimes piercing or cutting holes into the clay. The clay responds differently depending on how moist or hard it is, just as my response differs according to the way I am feeling while working on each piece. While some of these marks are more impromptu, I also make conscious decisions. Therefore, each mark is an expression derived by a compromise between the clay and me. I have my own personal relationship with each piece but would like to invite the viewer to make his or her own connections as well.

Using clay as a surface for slab paintings that hang on the wall, or creating non-functional vessels takes the ceramic object beyond “craft”, presenting a contemporary dialogue with the material. The series “Compositions in Clay” has been a great exploration in painting with glaze and texture for me. The panels are open-ended for interpretation, usually based on natural or architectural forms, abstractions made with basic geometric shapes.

I recently spent time in Japan, researching the traditional and contemporary roles of art in their culture. The people of Japan have a great sense of wholeness and unity, with honor and respect for one another, nature, art and with a balance of modern technology and ancient traditions. The appreciation of art and craft in everyday life exists powerfully. A conceptual piece of abstract contemporary art is as important as a ceramic vessel for traditional tea ceremony ritual. I like to bring this passion into my own work, and make objects whose presence express happiness or contemplation in everyday life.


1995 BFA Herron School of Art and Design

Select Exhibitions
Compositions in Clay, one person exhibit, Basile Gallery at the Indianapolis Art Center.
Indigenous Forms, Four-person show during NCECA, J. Martin Gallery, Indpls, IN.
Chemistry, Group Show During NCECA, Bodner Studios Gallery, Indianapolis, IN
Symbiotic Selections, Three-person show, Bodner Studios Gallery, Indianapolis, IN
The Word Made Clay, National Juried Exhibition coinciding with NCECA, The Athenaeum Music and Arts Library La Jolla, CA
Clayfest, Regional Juried Exhibition by Primary Colours, Indianapolis, IN

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Three-person show, ART Columbus Gallery, Columbus, IN
Herron 100, Herron School of Art’s Centennial Celebration Exhibit, Herron Gallery, Indianapolis, IN

Creative Renewal Fellowship, from the Arts Council of Indianapolis for research in Japan
Governor’s Choice Award, Indiana State Fair, Professional Fine Arts Division, Indianapolis, IN
Honorable Mention, Installation Fest, 4 Star Gallery, Indianapolis, IN

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