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Visiting Artist: Jana Hanka

October 13, 2016
Richmond Center for Visual Arts
Room 2008 at 5:30 p.m.

My life and artwork were changed completely and irrevocably after a fall from a horse and awakening a month later in hospital. All bets were off and my life became that of a seeker after truth and numinous visions. That’s what my working with clay and the recurring imagery of horses represent – my entering into a deeper and more meaningful relationship with that vehicle of my own transformation and developing alongside the other - the non-human. Man and horse enjoy a relationship that is ancient, beautiful, dangerous and potentially enlightening.

There is something timeless in the themes of man and horse – a transformative principle we find mirrored throughout art history whether that be through the seemingly unending equestrian statues of military heroes in the public squares of Europe or the New World’s embrace of Vaqueros and Cowboys as well as Indians riding bareback and nearly becoming one with the horse - have evolved such a profound interspecies intimacy.

My own interests tend much more towards the more individualistic and timeless, as I play with form that evolves on its own beneath my fingers into familiar horse-like forms that have no fore-ordained symbolism or clearly planned intent. The internal support structures reminiscent of honeycomb reflect the wisdom of the other sentient beings of this earth - of animals coming together in a thing of self-evident and unforced beauty. That obvious pleasing elegance stems from natural and eternally elegant form which is structurally impeccable – perfect, obvious and timeless.

There is an alchemy to the progression of earth finding its form beneath my hands and being transformed in fire, which I find deeply satisfying. Glazes come about of their own accord as the microclimates of the wood-fired kiln vitrify the surface clay layers into unpredictable, naturalistic glazing that forms maps of what took place in the kiln. The resulting graphics playing across the surface of these horse-forms remind me as much of the most ancient makers of clay as they do of my contemporary colleagues - of Chinese funerary sculptures from Xian and potters from the indigenous traditions of the Mayan Yucatan in Mexico.