A Lawrence artist is realizing his life-long dream -- to make art and to teach art.
Marko Fields has gotten off the wheel. Clay vessels once shaped by spinning are now likely to be built by his hands.
Fields, a Lawrence artist, completed his master's degree in fine arts in May at Kansas State University, and he says the experience has changed the quality and direction of his art.
"I think of myself as a ceramist," said Fields, 44. "I've worked primarily in clay, but it seems to be mixed media now. It nearly always has metallic elements whether fabricated or cast. I use stone, wood and cast resins. I also etch surfaces with metal."
Fields' stoneware and porcelain teapots, bottles and pitchers are hard to ignore. Their forms are unusual, playful and tactilely pleasing. And the vessels typically possess a whimsical narrative.
"I've developed a vocabulary of imagery. I call them giant amoebas, gerkins and Spanish olives," he said.
Fields, who earned a bachelor's degree in ceramics from Kansas University in May 1996 and taught ceramics, metalsmithing and jewelry this spring at Baker University, will show his works Friday through July 9 at Art Affair, a gallery run by Baker University students in downtown Baldwin.
The show, "Confessions of a Smarty Pants and Other Stories," is his master's thesis show, which was on display in May at the Manhattan Arts Center. Joining Fields' objects is "Under the Influence," an exhibit of works by about 15 artists whose creations, ideas or encouragement influenced Fields. Included are works by Jon Havener, Joe Zeller, Lara Scobie, Jon Narum, Dan Beck, Jon Swindell and Barbara Waterman-Peters.
Fields said his artistic evolution perhaps began when he took a modern decorative arts class a few years ago and was introduced to biomorphic art. He also started embellishing his ceramics with spirals, geometric references, personal icons and narrative bands.
For example, "Teapot -- Bioseries No. 3," a hand-built porcelain and cast sterling teapot, has a narrative band depicting his wife, Amy; their two children, who are interacting with an alien; a house; and a guitar,
"I like to tell stories. I've created by own personal sense of mythology," he said.
At Kansas State, Fields said, he was able to concentrate solely on his art, which allowed him to experiment with new techniques. As a result, he discovered what he calls "printmaking in clay."
"I carve a plaster slab, which takes three to four weeks to do," he said. "I then press the rolls of clay on it and (what results) is visually implied or tactile relief. I employ pattern and texture. I have been able to reconcile surface with form. I can consistently accomplish that now."
Fields, who has worked as a graphic designer, illustrator and editorial cartoonist, also is trying his hand at writing. "The Magic Stick," a coming-of-age story about "a boy who becomes a man and wants to know the truth," is a collaborative effort with other artists.
He is also one of four founding members of the National Society of Artist Collaborators, an organization promoting the unity of the visual arts, collaborative art projects and exhibitions and the funding of scholarships to mixed-media student artists.
Fields' ceramic works can be seen in four books -- "The Ceramic Design Book, A Gallery of Contemporary Work," "Best of Pottery II," "Wheel Thrown Ceramics" and "Best of Pottery" -- and a number of U.S. galleries, including the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Mo.; SilverWorks and More, Lawrence; Lucky Street Gallery and Kokopelli Gallery, both in Key West, Fla.; and the Wichita Art Museum.
Fields credits his wife with giving him the motivation and support to "pursue a dream I'd left behind a long time ago -- that is to be an artist and teach art at the college level."
Next fall, he will teach ceramics and sculpture at Seward County Community College in Liberal.
-- Jan Biles' phone message number is 832-7146. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: "Confessions of a Smarty Pants and Other Stories," works by ceramist Marko Fields, and "Under the Influence," works by about 15 artists whose creations, ideas or encouragement influenced Fields.
When: Friday through July 9.
Where: Art Affair, 622 High St., Baldwin.
Opening reception: From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday.