For the last ten years, sculptors from 10 states have made the trek to Newton to create a forum for their works at the Iowa Sculpture Festival. This weekend, the festival welcomes artists who build appreciation of art through their exhibits, demonstrations and, most importantly, through sales of their art forms.
Eric Stearns, a Nebraska raku artist, has not only been a vendor at the ISF, but also participated in a very special artist residency in Jasper County four years ago. Students from eight communities, Grinell and Central Colleges and the public watched Eric throw clay on the pottery wheel, creating forms and designs that fascinated everyone who attended. His instruction and sharing of knowledge foretold the success that he would soon realize.
Stearns was born and raised on a ranch near North Platte, Neb. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a Professional Emphasis from Doane College in Crete, Neb. After college, Stearns opened his first studio, Stearns Ceramics, in North Platte.
After teaching full-time, as well as assisting his family on the ranch, Stearns decided to commit more fully to his art and received a Master of Fine Arts at Fort Hayes State University in 2008, studying under Linda Ganstrom.
Finding the harmony and relaxation while on the potter’s wheel, Stearns was totally focused on the present and the craft of throwing, knowing that a second’s distraction or inattention could result in the collapse of his extreme forms. Challenging himself to build a vocabulary of various shapes and scales that act as a canvas for his designs, each of his vessels are individually designed and executed to reflect his passion for high craft married with contemporary expression.
“My work concentrates on the precision vessels whose exterior forms have been mathematically pierced to create an interest to the interior,” Stearns said. “Attracting the viewer’s gaze and the sense of touch through the ever-changing relationship between light and dark, solid and permeable, smooth and rough, these vessels offer spiritual illumination through contemplation.”
Stearns, a repeat Iowa Sculpture Festival artist, is currently teaching and the chair of the art department at Doane College in Crete, Neb.
The Iowa Sculpture Festival Artists’ Reception and Presale is tonight from 5:30 to 8 p.m. with a $25 donation per attendee. general admission days are Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $3 for adults and $1 for children under 12. Artists will demonstrate on the half hour on both Saturday and Sunday. Carson and Connie Ode will also speak about their books, including “IOWA — Spaces, Places, Faces,” which includes stories of the Iowa Speedway and the Iowa Sculpture Festival.