Foundation Award for Research

Keith Ekstam

Keith Ekstam

Art and Design
College of Arts and Letters

I. Focus of Research

I once heard expressed that the making of visual art could be broadly described as using various materials to express ideas and observations raised by the artist. The main interests in my creative research focus on the construction of sculptural forms that utilize the vast array of visual possibilities found in the clays, slips and glaze materials normally employed in this art medium; this has generally been labeled “mixed ceramic media”. Clay is a highly versatile material that can be worked very quickly and expressively, showing the touch of the maker’s hand, but it can also be used to create artwork that replicates precisely a naturally occurring or humanmade object. The kiln firing possibilities are almost limitless, making it an intriguing and surprising art medium. Recent visiting artist residencies in Europe, Taiwan- the Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China have made an impact in that I have procured various images and ideas that have come to influence my artwork. This includes such things as Chinese scholar’s rocks, architectural elements, landscapes and other cultural and environmental images and objects, to name a few. 

II. Major Projects

Selected Recent Exhibitions:

2017  Out of the Ashes: Notre Dame Ceramic Art Symposium Exhibtion, Snite Museum of Art, Notre Dame University, South Bend, Indiana.

2016  Wood-fired Kiln: A Catalyst for Collaboration, international group invitational exhibition, Springfield Art Museum, Missouri.

2012  Trace Elements, solo exhibition, Tainan National University of the Arts, Taiwan.

Selected visiting artist positions:

2017  Arctic Ceramic Centre, Posio, Finland, 9th Arctic Ceramic Symposium. Three- week visiting artist residency at international symposium.

2016  University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, Language of Collaboration. One-week visiting artist residency at international symposium.

2014  Guldagergaard International Ceramics Research Center, Skælskør, Denmark. One month visiting artist residency.

2012  HDK College of Applied Arts and Crafts, Goteborg University, Goteborg, Sweden, Wood-fired Landscapes. Three-week visiting artist residency, workshop and international symposium.

2012  Tainan National University of the Arts/ Graduate Institute of Applied Art Tainan, Taiwan. Three-month visiting artist residency for sabbatical leave.

III. Future Directions of Research

I am continually looking for ways to remain engaged in my professional research including exhibition opportunities, serving as a visiting artist, and other art related activities. Several work- in- progress events for the next year or two are being formulated as I write. For instance, I will serve as a visiting resident artist at the 9th Arctic Ceramic Symposium at the Arctic Ceramic Centre, Posio, Finland, in July and August, 2017. Among my many undertakings in Finland will be participation in international invitational exhibitions at the Anu Pentik Gallery and the Arctic Ceramic Centre Museum. This activity will be supported by an MSU International Travel Award grant.

I will also show my work in invitational exhibitions in the United States. This includes an invitational show at the South Bend Museum of Art, Indiana, and the Prater Collections Exhibition at the Springfield Art Museum. I am beginning to consider possible sabbatical opportunities in my field during the 2018=19 academic year, including those in Japan and/ or China. I am certain that additional professional chances will arise in the future, including continued involvement in the  collaborative nano- material project.

IV. Topics related to your research and of interest to the broad University Community, for which you are available for presentations and/or consultations.

Contemporary and historical visual arts, ceramic arts, art outreach activities.