Fellowship winner Tim Compton hosts solo IAC show


Tim Compton has his work cut out for him. Just after being promoted — he is now in charge of the ceramic, wood and metal studios at the Indianapolis Art Center — he was given a fellowship that is changing his work and perspective.

His latest show is one of the perks that he has received for being awarded the fourth "Skip McKinney Faculty of the Year" fellowship, granted by The Indianapolis Art Center and the Robert H. McKinney family. The $20,000 fellowship is "given to an Art Center faculty member who exhibits excellence in his/her art, excellence in teaching and focuses on building community through art." The award includes a solo exhibit and the financial stability to allow Compton to focus on his own artwork.

Compton's collection of work has been growing for some time, but this specific show is far more than work — it's a personal pilgrimage around his changing family.

"The whole show is kind of the idea of being surrounded by nature, getting away from the daily grind — all of that stuff," says Compton. "It also has a bit of a secondary layer. My parents recently divorced, about two years ago. So the work is kind of a commentary on that as well."

Most of the forms in the show are reflective of floral arrangements. Ceramic pieces will stand on thick slabs of walnut and birch plywood. Those are mounted on s-curved steel table legs to create the pedestal and centerpiece.

The petal patterns were inspired by traveling. Specifically, the tulips he saw in the markets of Amsterdam while he was on a trip to see family in Europe. The flowers he saw in Monet's garden were also an inspiration. For him, the struggles he faced with his family lead him to mediation and nature. Overall, Compton wants to focus the show on the cyclical integration in his own life between nature, travel and family.

"I travel to get away from the daily grind," says Compton. "While I travel, I experience nature. In my head those have always been linked." He sees the floral arrangements as a meditation on things he can't control. "It's a bit of a back and forth ... The show is really exciting and really difficult for me to talk about at the same time ... I am most excited to just get it out there, to have it out there, to have it off my chest."

He began the ceramic work for the show two to three years ago. Compton explained that it takes him a while to develop the often unpredictable techniques that he uses (like soda firing, where something like baking soda is introduced to the kiln causing a splatter.)

The development of his own artistic style has fallen in step with the handmade styles of Art Nouveau over the years.

"The potter's wheel makes round things very well," says Compton. "But then I like to use the hand to try and push that piece beyond the round. I got to a point where I couldn't stand looking at round pieces anymore (he laughs)."

The show will consist of five tables and ceramic sets. Compton is hoping to strike a balance with the audience in each one.

"I find that's a really effective way to get people invested in the work," says Compton. "If it's something that slaps you in the face with intent it can be off-putting to people. And if it's just aesthetically pleasing people tend to experience it and brush by it quite quickly. So if it has that duality to it, it helps to involve the viewer."

*Kevin McKinney of the McKinney Foundation is the publisher of NUVO. Just so you know. Transparency or something. 

Show: The Space Between

When: Aug. 7, 6-8 p.m.

Where: Indianapolis Art Center, 820 E. 67th St.

Tickets: FREE