MUG CLUB ARTISTS

 
Each year we invite 6 artists to engage our theme and create a drinking vessel that intrigues, inspires and challenges us. Each year's theme is intentionally chosen to fit the times and culture we inhabit and helps us reflect upon the world around us. 

2020 Mug Club

Mug Club 2020

Chromophilia: The Love of Color

Our world is a magnificent display of color and more variations of tints, tones and shades that we can even comprehend. But as people try to simplify their lives, whites and 

grays have dominated the world of design.

As artists, however, we see the value in color and variety, and want to challenge the cultural assumptions of uniformity that come with a sterile white and grey palette.

Our hand-selected artists will reflect --or maybe just play -- with the ways that color can influence our moods, inspire us, or communicate a feeling.

 

Join us for a Mug Club that promises to be engaging and high impact! 

Interested in Applying to be one of our Mug Club 2020 artists for the theme of Chromophilia: The Love of Color? Click here to get started:

2019 Mug Club Artists

Artists & Monthly Mugs - "Habitat"

 

Christy Culp

Butler. PA

"My work has, for years, contained imagery of fruit, beginning with pears, then cherries and now berries. Using red clay with a white slip allows me to create lush illustrations with under glazes and sgraffito line work. Before I found clay I drew, so it is natural to combine them both.

I am heavily influenced by my environment and the seasons. After my first experience picking cherries in a tree that was probably fifty years old, my cherry pattern emerged. My husband wooed me with red raspberries when we were first dating, and now we have a small commercial berry farm. My summers are spent picking in rows and rows of reds, blues, and black raspberries. It is a lush environment, full of dew-covered leaves, insects and bees. When picking, it is a little like a treasure hunt, looking for that ripe spot of color hiding in the foliage. This is the habitat of the bees and it is the habitat of this potter for the summer months. It sustains us both. In January, when the snow is blowing across my barren berry fields, I take a warm mug of coffee to the studio where I make it all come back like summer is just a few weeks away."

About the Artist:

Christy Culp, Ceramic Artist, Art Educator, Clay Community Builder, Butler Art Center.

Christy has a studio on her berry farm in Butler Pa. She has been making pots since 19991. When not in her studio, she is teaching art at Deer Lakes High School where she's been creating the artists of the future since 1997. She is currently on the board of directors at the Butler Art Center where she is working with several clay artists to establish a clay community there.

Andrea LeBlond

Cleveland, OH

Coming soon...

 

 

About the Artist

Coming soon...

Maria Campagna

Morgantown, WV

Mugs are often used to hold a drink that wakes us up, refreshes us and allows us to start anew.  While enjoying the drink, we tend to clear our minds, and find solace before being able to start up again.  This idea of tranquil renewal is reminiscent of the seashore in several ways.  One example is the way the tide comes in and smooths the sand offering a bit of calm before the ocean recedes and allows the people and animals to return.  Another way, is the start of new life, like an endangered loggerhead hatchling swimming through the waves for the first time.

About the Artist

Maria Campagna was born and raised in Springfield, Pa.  She received a BS in engineering from Penn State University and went on to work as an engineer and in the business field for over 10 years.  While working she took up pottery as a hobby training at Claymakers starting in 2008.  Soon her hobby became a way of life and she started attending workshops around the country.  In 2016, Maria opened a studio in Morgantown WV, where her focus is centralized.  Her husband, Adam, and her have one child, Autumn and 2 dogs.

April - Alyssa Young

Beaver County, PA

Rotting log is a unique natural landscape that is not often thought of in the terms of a habitat because much of life there is too small to see or is overlooked. However, this habitat is bursting with life in many forms. Living within the log are “decomposers” including earthworms, fungi, and bacteria that help break down its nutrients for the “recyclers”: insects, mosses, lichen, and ferns. They process nutrients through their life form and return it to the forest floor. Larger animals like birds, squirrels, and foxes feed on these plants and creatures as well as use the rotted out, open spaces of logs, to shelter them. The circle of life is continuous.

 

Alyssa chose to focus on the aspect of fungi in her mug as Mycelia Development company works on plans for a larger “habitat” (new building) for Stray Cat Studio - her family-like employer of 5 years. The name, Mycelia, refers to a network of fungal filaments that grow for many years providing water and nutrients until the exact right setting allows them to fruit, or grow a mushroom. Mycelia Development sees the the process of growth in land and real estate as much the same and hopes to help provide fruit to Beaver Falls.

 

Fungi has also been said to potentially have played a part in the end to the coal age after it had adapted to decompose logs. Alyssa sees parallels in Mycelia Development company and other social adaptations that are forming in Beaver Falls as it’s community learns new techniques to enrich spaces that have fallen aside in the passing Steel age that once powered it. She finds unlikely inspiration in the rotting log habitat as something once considered dead, provides great potential for the multiplicity of life.

 

[*Please enjoy this mug carefully as it is delicately built and should be hand washed.]

 

About Artist Alyssa Young:

 

As a child growing up without much “screen time” nature and the outdoors became a huge part of Alyssa’s life. She grew up in a suburban neighborhood with a misfit attitude as big as the American consumerism sprouting up around her. Alyssa was always outside creating little worlds in cozy spaces between the bushes and rocks that were often only ornamental to this style of life. Imagination was how she played and became her escape from the sterile landscape of modern society. This, coupled with her natural ability to draw, she never stopped creating and still finds herself bouncing between worlds of natural and consumer-contemporary.

 

Finding inspiration in growth, yet understanding rebellion, she has never been able to choose just one medium. Alyssa constantly pushes herself to learn new mediums, subjects and techniques. She went to Carlow University for fine art and Butler County Community College for business. With these two degrees she again found herself in opposing worlds. Trying to combine all things, she has spent the last few years servicing her community with art through commissioned portraits, memorials, wedding keepsakes, etc. Working in the mediums of painting, drawing, wood-burning, felting and small ceramic sculpture allows her to work with almost anyone on almost anything.

 

In her private practice Alyssa focuses on the natural. She loves the freedom of floral painting and the natural medium of wood-burning. She created a mural in Beaver's Herban Touch Juice Lab and taught botanical classes at Chippewa's Sahli park in 2018. All this leads to feed her inspiration for Stray Cat Studio's mug club and her chosen habitat - rotting log.

 

February 2019 - Katie Stone

Beaver Falls, PA

Grasslands go by many names. In the U.S. Midwest, they're known as prairies.

 

Grasslands are considered the gradient between forests and deserts. A quarter of the Earth is covered with grasslands. Natural fires are important to maintain grasslands.

 

Ancient hunting peoples set regular fires to maintain and extend grasslands, and prevent fire-intolerant trees and shrubs from taking over. Grasses are able to survive fires because they grow from the bottom instead of the top.

 

Custer State Park is a 71,000 acre grassland in the Black Hills of South Dakota home to many of America’s 900 burros. These burros are managed by The Bureau of Land Management and National Forest Service under the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971. Specifically, the park’s donkey squad descends from pack animals once used for treks to the Harney Peak summit. Wild burros feed on a variety of plants, including grasses, Mormon tea, palo verde and plantain. Now naturalized, they often pander for food from park tourists in places like the Wildlife Loop Road, sometimes causing traffic jams. Such is their boldness that they are often referred to as the “begging burros."

About Sculptor Katie Stone:

Growing up in the horse and livestock industry, studying and replicating animal form has been a life-long passion, and slight obsession for me. Focused on the human-animal experience in every day life, and fueled from my personal history, my work is an exploration of dialogue between the two. 

 

Through years of moving from place to place, each region is a new ballad with the same characters. Interconnected, man and animal are at play and at war with one another. These moments become souvenirs for a collaborative conversation. Animal forms interact with human interference. This pairing is a retrospective of our influence as a species on the world around us. It brings to question how we define ourselves and where we draw the line between creature and captor. As my work grows and changes, these same stories have developed into a collection of whimsical narratives. The sculptures are playful, tongue in cheek comments on the human condition. Our stories, cultures, and acts of man are presented in bright playful colors and with childlike doodles. My goal as an artist is to dress the burden of our humanity up like drawings we hang on the fridge. Wrapping our daily weight with the sweet naivety of childhood.

 

My ceramic making process of these works is a process that develops over multiple months. Each piece is sculpted out of a solid block of clay. These can weigh in anywhere between 10 lbs and 2,000 lbs. I work from the top down, roughing out the backs, heads, and bellies of my animals and people. I use the process of time to help give my forms their structure. As the clay hardens, I can begin carving out their legs or lower structure. I leave my figures very simply made, as my sculpting technique highlights the building blocks of bone, ligament, and muscle. I believe it captures the energy and movement of each animal or human. Once sculpted, I slice my pieces in half and hollow out the inside so that it leaves simply an outer shell behind. I combine these pieces with slab built pedestals and doodled objects. I use my doodles on the flat surface as a form of atmospheric perspective in the piece. They become my way of telling the story and giving my animals a context in their own little universe.

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2018 Mug Club

Artists & Monthly Mugs - "Outsiders"

January 2018 - Amber Symmonds

Beaver Falls, PA

I currently work in a variety of mediums; primarily painting, drawing, printmaking, photography and ceramics. I reflect a lot on perception and I enjoy exploring various perspectives and ways of seeing reality through my art. About 5 years ago, I had the privilege to become Stray Cat Studio’s first student. I went on to attend Seton Hill University were I received a Bachelors in Fine Art and I am now working as a local artist here in Beaver Falls.

 

"This is a disposable cup.

 

I invite you to examine your reaction to this statement. Do you agree or disagree and how does it inform you about yourself and your perspective? Does your intention define something or does the way something interacts with the world define it? Plastic is not biodegradable so would “disposable” cups be more or less as disposable as this cup?

           

Why stop with just cups? The definition of an Outsider is: A person that does not belong to any particular group.  How do we react to that? Will we choose to define others and ourselves more or less like this cup?"

March 2018 - Renée Suhr & Jacob Swanson

Beaver Falls, PA

Renée Suhr is owner of Stray Cat Studio in Beaver Falls, PA. The Studio is both a pottery studio and artisan gift shop, and its mission is "to offer beauty to it's local community as a tool for hopefulness and restoration. Renée divides her time between running Stray Cat Studio, managing a development company that will build a new home for Stray Cat Studio on the 1400 block of 7th Ave. in Beaver Falls, and "throwing pots" in the studio.

"March Mug, Stray Cat Studio Mug Club: “We ARE the people.”

By Renée Suhr & Jacob Swanson

 

We (the artists) are always struck by the conversations about “immigrants.” Immigrants are what WE ALL ARE (except Native Americans), so the distinction between immigrants & citizens is, ultimately, an artificial one. Often it seems the REAL issue is “who came last”, and this strikes as a lack of deep hospitality in our culture. How do we, out of our own stories of immigrants coming to America, welcome the newest of soon-to-be-citizens who will bring a rich cultural heritage, unique foods, new ideas, and healthy challenges to our society?

 

These characters represent real people, living and dead, who are all immigrated Americans. Many of the names are real people (the Syrian woman and son are Renée’s great-grandmother and grandfather).  All the dates are in sync with when those groups would have been alive or came here. We liked the idea of them interacting as if they were still living and encountering one another.  We also placed them as they SHOULD’VE been seen (the African woman comes in all the dignity and glory of a person who could choose to come).

 

And, of course, we apologize for any insensitive oversights.

_________

This mug was made by a mother and son team. The mother, Reneé Suhr is also owner of Stray Cat Studio and is currently building a large building in the center of Beaver Falls into which the business will move in late 2019. Renee did the mug itself, the glazing and pulled the project together. The illustrations were done by the son, Jacob Swanson, who works at SCS doing helpful intern-like tasks, and as an Assistant Director for local high school musical theater.  He will attend college for animation at the School for Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City in Fall 2018.

May 2018 - Vince Kurnal

Sewickly, PA

Vince Kurnal began working with clay approximately fourteen years ago. A random class with a friend quickly turned into a passion. He is skilled in hand building but has an enthusiasm for wheel throwing and pushing beyond the standard production pieces to create unique one of kind works. Vince has an interest in sharing his knowledge and techniques with anyone interested.

Regarding his mug:

This mug was inspired by all of those living on the outside. The repeating circular theme represents all those social circles, current trends, lifestyles, closets, or other social normative constraints, either by our choosing or imposed upon us, we force ourselves into every day. While those on the “inside” feel they have a grasp of life it isn’t until you break free of these constraints that you can truly begin seeing the world for what it is.  We need more people living on the ”outside” unafraid of the consequences of boldly taking a stance for what they believe.

 

~Vince Kurnal ~ May Mug of the Month Artist

July 2018 - Matthew Kroh

Pittsburgh, PA

Matthew Kroh, a resident of Pittsburgh, was introduced to pottery as an art form via the Manchester Craftsmens Guild. He works primarily from his home studio but has found a second creative home at Stray Cat Studio. When not engaged with pottery, Matthew is also a motion graphics animator and video producer who creates educational content for online education. He lives in the Lawrenceville neighborhood with his partner Anne and their cat Toussaint.

Here's what he has to say about his compelling mug:

"I personally don’t have much to say about ‘political outsiders’.  Sometimes in some situations I might be one, but not in a way that has any real consequences for me beyond a potentially awkward conversation.

 

In exploring this project, I started where everyone starts… google.  I wondered what would come up on an image search.  Again and again, I found this quote from Jefferson, “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”  I dove down the internet hole and found other quotes, documents, etchings of Monticello and stately portraits.  Inevitably I found pictures of Sally Hemmings.  So often their dynamic is portrayed as some kind of cheap paperback romance… a dashing and refined older man and a yielding young woman in an impractical 18th century outfit… ridiculous, but easy to ignore.  As I read further, I discovered how incorrect that image was and what it was created for; to hide some really unpleasant truths.  After I’d explored all this I went back to his quote with a different understanding of it than I assume Jefferson intended.  Those who can claim to be ‘above’ politics or can compartmentalize it, who feel they can dismiss it as needed… probably aren’t really impacted by it.  Probably because, as some ‘Fox and Friends’ host said on air last week, ‘They’re not our kids’.  Probably it’s not your healthcare that’s at stake, probably it’s not your voting rights that will be questioned, probably it’s not your son or daughter that will get shot.  By contrast, for others (actually for most others) the consequences of political decisions are very real and constantly looming.  Political engagement isn’t optional for them.  Political outsiders aren’t the minority.  In the figures of Jefferson and Hemmings, it seems to me, is the the struggle between the political in-group and the political out-group, what’s a stake for each and how they view (or choose not to view) themselves and each other.

 

I’m not the best ceramics artist, but I hope I’ve given anyone who uses this mug an occasion to reflect.  I hope there’s a bite to the response I imagined that will make it memorable.  And I hope you’re not offended, because it’s too late for that now.

 

Matthew Kroh

September 2018 - Yoko Sekino-Bové

Washington, PA

Yoko Sekino-Bové became a potter after working as a graphic designer. She approaches ceramic art as a way to share stories, using function as a design element to enhance the experience. Her work is exhibited internationally in museums, art centers, and, most importantly, in many private homes (mainly kitchens). Her ambition in art is for her work to serve people in many different ways, to provide comfort, joy, and excitement to the users, while being a part of the owner’s identity.

"I used the image of the black sheep, a common symbol of the outsider, to create a mug that reflects individual thinking. Often the outsider is seen as unwelcome, or even a threat. Here the outsider exists in the community, but is set apart. The form of the mug has both the outer surface, and the inner space. A perfect symbol for looking behind and beneath the surface of what is outside."

November 2018 - Josh Hassan

Ellwood City, PA

"When I was asked to be a part of the mug of the month club and was told the theme was “Outsiders,” my mind immediately went to my nerdy ways. “Nerds,” “geeks,” “oddballs,” words I’ve often heard in my time as a member of the Society for Creative Anachronisms (SCA). As a member of the SCA I have striven to learn all that I can about ancient people and the world they lived in. I’ve come to realize that my time in the SCA has paralleled my work as a potter. My potts are inspired by simplicity, functionality, and history. In my opinion, Vikings were, and continue to be, one of the most influential groups of Outsiders the world has ever known. The “Outlanders” spread their culture across no less than four continents. Outlander, by definition, belong to a different “outside” place, religion, or culture. While some may remember Vikings mainly as pirates, war mongers, or conquerors, they gave as much of their culture as they took from another.

The mugs are inspired by traditional Viking feast ware. Footed vessels have been found in multiple archeological digs. Specifically, these potts are a nod to 4,000-year-old footed “mugs” found in Butte and Argyle, linking Viking pottery to another love of mine, ancient Scotland. Originally unglazed, for health and safety’s sake, I decided to at least coat the inside of your mug. Functional, simple in design, and versatile, I hope you enjoy this pott for your morning coffee, your evening nightcap, or a hearty mug of stew!

- Joshua “Percival Potts” Hassan"

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2017 Mug-of-the-Month Club

Artist Biographies & Mugs (No Theme)

January - Renée Suhr

Beaver Falls, PA

Renée Suhr is owner of Stray Cat Studio in Beaver Falls, PA. The Studio is both a pottery studio and artisan gift shop, and its mission is "to offer beauty to it's local community as a tool for hopefulness and restoration. Renée divides her time between running the business and "throwing pots" in the studio.

February - Amanda Wolf

Pittsburgh, PA

Amanda Wolf is a full-time studio potter living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania and earned her BFA in 2003. After graduating, she moved to Pittsburgh and began teaching in the education programs at the Carnegie Museum of Art. In 2005, Amanda began teaching at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, where she taught for eight years. Amanda is currently making pottery full time for her business Wolf’s Den Pottery, as well as teaching for Stray Cat Studio. Amanda creates her work with the intention of connection. She hopes her creations will inspire a love of nature and bring joy to those who use them, making their lives and daily routines more exciting and enjoyable.

March - Keith Hershberger

Pittsburgh, PA

Keith Hershberger is a potter living in Pittsburgh, PA who has been making a living working in clay for over 20 years. You can find his work in several regional galleries, at shows throughout the east coast and midwest, as well as at The Highland Park Pottery Tour, a neighborhood based house tour where ceramic artists invite the public into their homes and studios to view and purchase their work, which he founded with several friends in 2011. His work has been published in 500 Prints on Clay and in Graphic Clay by Jason Burnett. He graduated from Goshen College with a B.A. in Fine Art with a focus on ceramics.

April - Jenna Vanden Brink

Pittsburgh, PA

Jenna Vanden Brink grew up in Detroit, MI in a family that valued art and community. After graduating from Calvin College with a BA in studio arts and English, she ventured to Pittsburgh, PA with a group of friends to live and work together. In Pittsburgh, she works full time as a ceramic artist and teacher. Her studio is located at 1104 N. Canal Street in Sharpsburg. She lives in the Highland Park neighborhood of Pittsburgh with her husband and dog in their labor-of-love 1905 Victorian home.

May - Talon Smith

Pittsburgh, PA

Talon Smith was born and raised in Pittsburgh. Smith produces functional ceramic wares that are influenced by the changing landscape of Pittsburgh. She began studying ceramics at CCAC in 2008 and continued her education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Smith is currently a teaching artist at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, a participant in the Highland Park Pottery Tour, and was awarded the Emerging Artist Scholarship for the 2016 Three Rivers Arts Festival.

June - Linsay Scypta

Rossford, OH

Lindsay Scypta holds a BFA in Art & Design from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University and a MFA from The Ohio State University. She was an Artist-in-Resident at Clay Art Center in Port Chester, New York. Returning to Ohio in 2014 as an adjunct instructor at Owens Community College and Lourdes University, Lindsay continues balance teaching and making. She had a solo show at Morean Center for Clay in 2015 and was a recipient of the Toledo Museum of Art's Palmer Scholarship, providing support to conduct visual research in Paris, France. Her influences include the stone tracery of Gothic cathedrals, Victorian fretwork and the history of the dining experience. Working strictly with porcelain clay, the work is thrown, trimmed, altered and decorated, then fired to cone six in an electric oxidation atmosphere. Much of Lindsay's MFA research was centered around not only the history of the table but also the development of laser cut tools, stamps, and molds that she continues to challenge and apply to her work.

July - Scott Cornish

New Galilee, PA

Scott Cornish developed a keen interest in art while attending high school in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Edinboro University in 2002 and went on to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree at West Virginia University. Graduate school afforded Cornish the opportunity to spend a semester studying Art in China. After graduating with an MFA degree in 2005, he started teaching at the Community College of Allegheny County. Teaching quickly became a passion of Cornish’s as he struck a balance between helping others achieve their creative potential and the production and evolution of his own creative endeavors. Cornish has exhibited his work in the US and abroad including exhibitions at the Chautauqua Institution, NCECA Conference, Manchester Craftsman’s Guild and the Icheon World Ceramic Center in Korea. His work has been published in multiple books and periodicals. He is professionally active in his field, producing and exhibiting artwork while helping others in their pursuit of creativity.

Beaver Falls, PA

Alyssa Clifford is a PA born artist with a BFA degree from Carlow University. She is a multi-medium artist working in ceramic, pyrography/woodburning, painting, drawing, installation, felting, and more. Her subject matter is as vast as her mediums and she loves to play with unique ideas in every creation. Alyssa specializes in customized art work and sustainable art practices. You can see more of her wide variety of work at: www.alyssaclifford.com

September - Bryce Hemington

Bridgeville, PA

Bryce Hemington is a ceramic artist who has been making functional pottery for the past 10 years and is located in the south hills of Pittsburgh. His work is primarily composed of functional ceramics with geometric patterns that are symmetric in nature.

October - Joseph Delphia

Pittsburgh, PA

Joseph Delphia graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where he studied art education, ceramics, and sculpture. After receiving his BFA and BS in 2007 he moved to Pittsburgh, PA where he began to teach for various organizations in the city including the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild. In 2008 he joined the faculty at the Community College of Allegheny County where he teaches studio art courses, including ceramics and sculpture. Joseph maintains a studio in Sharpsburg, PA creating functional wood-fired pottery that he fires in a small train kiln.

November - Carly Di Paolo

Pittsburgh, PA