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Crossroads: An Occasion for Friendship
“A person isn't who they are during the last conversation you had with them - they're who they've been throughout your whole relationship.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
Some twenty-seven years ago, Masaya Imanishi of Nara City, Japan, became a Japanese Ministry of Culture awardee, affording him the opportunity to spend a year as visiting artist wherever he chose in the world. At the recommendations of a mutual friend, Toshiko Takaezu, Professors Dan Anderson and Paul Dresang welcomed Masaya and his young family to SIU-Edwardsville. Masaya was very quickly befriended by Richard Wehrs, then a first-year grad student from Minnesota and then later by Dan Barnett (BFA student). Our shared experiences at SIUE led to a deep friendship which has only grown over the years.
Diversity is the most readily apparent feature of this exhibition. It’s no surprise that three artists of very different backgrounds – including differences of culture, language and life experience – produce very different work. Masaya Imanishi’s fine porcelain and stoneware pieces reflect the incredible discipline of Japan’s centuries-old Sometsuke (blue-on-white) tradition, and a lifelong striving to contemporize that tradition. Dan Barnett’s pieces reflect the ingenuity and creativity that are built on decades of learning and experimentation in all kinds of technical craft, from forging metals to designing furniture, electronic devices and even kilns – all extensions of Dan’s remarkable curiosity and deftness in many fields. Richard Wehrs’ pieces present a (sometimes playful) curiosity about the human spirit, the inner tension between, on one hand, compassion, generosity and kindness, and on the other, greed, selfishness, and evil – topics that likely reflect his 30+ years of work as an ordained minister.
Without question, these three have diverse approaches to subject matter, the raw materials they use, their surface decoration techniques, even how they fire their work. All of that is well illustrated by the pieces in this show. At the same time, however, this exhibition is a celebration of the more profound and fundamental aspects of artmaking and friendship that run much more deeply than mere materials and firing techniques. Beneath all this work is a clear common ground: dedication to clay, to exploration, and to friendship.
Indeed, this exhibition celebrates how very different orbits can intersect in surprising ways — and how diversity, appreciated with respect, honest curiosity and even affection, can produce enduring joy and unexpected richness in our lives.
Daniel Barnett, Masaya Imanishi, and Richard Wehrs