Jonathan Mess, of Jefferson, is the recipient of the Maine Arts Commission Contemporary Craft Fellowship, worth $5,000. Mess uses reclaimed ceramic materials to create bold, abstract works of art that blur the lines between sculpture, ceramics and painting. His work has been exhibited all over the country, including the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport, the Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, Vessels Gallery in Boston and the Portland Museum of Art.

Jonathan Mess statement:

I am an artist, investigator, experimenter, explorer and educator. I digest life through my art-making practice. Making provides a way to continuously educate myself about the world around me and to connect with other people. An interest in the visual stories conveyed by inanimate objects underlies all of my work. My recent work has involved several series that visually and metaphorically reference land, maps, strata, geology and geography. Process and its evidence have emerged as an essential aspect of this work.

Clay is an important material because I can literally use the earth’s crust as my medium. The recycling of ceramic materials−slop clay and cast-aside glazes, once-fired, unused, forgotten, discarded, cut-up, and broken work−is inherent to the development of this work. I have engineered and incorporated a low-waste system of making by using recycled clays, found cardboard, and even mixing the clay that falls to the floor back into my system.

I am interested in the physicality and reality of land, the evidence of time and age in the layers of earth, in contrast with contemporary human relationships with land through usage, manipulation, ownership, and division. I am concerned with our responsibility as humans living with the land−collectively and individually

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