Two Northwest Missouri State University art students recently exhibited their work at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City.
About 1,400 guests attended a sold-out fundraiser at the museum — the Arty Party — which featured ceramic creations by Kim Pluskota of Maryville and J. Eric Simmons of Highland, Kan.
Hosted annually by the Young Friends of Art, this year's Arty Party theme was "Eternal Spring," which Simmons said fit well with the ceramic vessels he crafts based on ancient classical forms.
"I decided that through my glaze palette, which is very earthy and natural-toned, that they would fit well with the décor they were seeking," said Simmons, who is majoring in art education. "When I submitted the pieces, they contacted me and said that’s exactly what they were looking for."
Simmons developed his pieces using stoneware clay fired in a kiln. In shaping the vessels, he used a variety of techniques including sectional assembly and "throw-and-coil."
Pluskota’s contribution, "Flower Garden," was displayed just outside the Nelson exhibit’s VIP area. To create the pieces, Pluskota individually folded and bunched soft clay slabs so that they resembled petals, then she added small coils and extruded clay to form flower centers and leaves.
"It was a big honor to have my work at the Nelson-Atkins for the event," said Pluskota, who is majoring in studio art. "It makes me want to keep it up and do more and get my work out there. It’s so fun to see what people think. Even if they don’t like it, that’s OK. It’s just neat to have it out there."
Following graduation, Pluskota plans to attend graduate school in preparation for teaching or opening her own art studio. Simmons, who will soon complete a student teaching assignment, hopes to pursue a career as a high school art instructor.
Work by the two young artists was selected after Northwest associate art professor and ceramicist Laura Kukkee received a request asking for photos of student work from an Arty Party committee member.
The Nelson-Atkins has a displayed collection of more than 33,500 pieces and is recognized as one of the nation's top museums, especially for Oriental art. Its collection also includes paintings by European and American masters, photography, modern sculpture and American Indian and Egyptian galleries.