Anna Halvorson poses with her wall of tiles, the results of her artistic partnership with ceramic artist Kelly Cox.
Currently on display in the Interact Gallery in Minneapolis are the results of four artistic partnerships. Titled “Fame,” it showcases the work that resulted from a sort of mentor/mentee relationship between four Interact artists and four artists who work in their field professionaly.
I say “sort of” because in some cases the mentors learned just as much from the Interact artists. Take for example the partnership between Kelly Cox and Anna Halvorson.
Halvorson spends much of her days throwing pots on a potter’s wheel. She’s also a very vivid visual artist. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Halvorson describes having psychic presences that influence her work, creating highly spiritual scenes featuring both vampires and angels.
For the Fame program, Halvorson was paired with ceramic artist Kelly Cox, who exclusively hand builds her pottery, and often creates sculptures that blend animal and human forms. Cox says it was a delight to work with Halvorson.
Since we both draw on our clay surfaces I tried to show [Halvorson] some materials that I thought she would have better results with, and to work with her on creating depth in the drawings by establishing a foreground and a background. With ceramics, the aesthetic is often more appealing if you loosen up and have confidence.
One of the many tile pieces Anna Halvorson made while working with Kelly Cox. This piece was drawn from reference material, something Halvorson wouldn’t normally do.
Cox said sometimes the mentorship felt a bit odd, because “Anna knows just as much as I do if not more,” however she found working together both very peaceful and a great break from her regular studio routine.
Halvorson agreed, it was good to work with someone new for a change, and to get out of the Interact studios into a different, professional studio.
I was having a little trouble with my colors – underglaze detaching. [Cox] gave me color mixed with slip – engobes – that helped keep the color and glaze intact.
Cox also works from references a lot – she collects a lot of pictures, and uses them in her artwork – which is something I could do more.
Halvorson said Cox actually reminded her of herself when she was younger.
Ceramic artist Kelly Cox
Welles Emerson, who organized the Fame program for Interact, says mentorship plays a crucial role in an artist’s development.
It provides critical artistic feedback, emotional support, and an investment in the artist’s professional evolution.
In addition, Interact artists often don’t have access to the latest tools or equipment, so partnerships can expose them to ways of working they’ve never seen before. Emerson says this years program was a particular success.
I am extremely pleased with the personal and artistic outcomes of this year’s mentorship experience. I have seen amazing growth in the artwork of the Interact artists and observed the power of the deep friendships formed over the mentorship period.
“Fame” is on display in the Interact gallery space through March 27.