“The Bray Days demonstrations are an awesome opportunity for students to see a professional practicing artist at work,” explained Laura Wilson, the arts and exhibits director for ASMSU. “This up-close look at an artist’s process allows an art student to learn from someone new, hopefully inspiring them to be more innovative in their own creative processes.” Bray Days, a collaboration between the College of Art and Architecture and the Archie Bray Foundation for Ceramic Arts, opened Monday, Feb. 16. It is a ceramics show exhibiting artists Brooks Oliver and Christopher Dufala.
However, Bray Days does not only benefit College of Arts and Architecture students. “It benefits the MSU community as a whole by bringing new artists onto our campus. By showing their work in the Exit Gallery, the public has access to the beautiful work these artists are making,” Wilson said. “I personally feel the presence of art makers in the MSU community only serves to benefit us as a whole by introducing fresh ideas and hopefully sparking important dialogue.”
Assistant professor of ceramics Josh DeWeese agreed, saying “People may not know exactly what they’re interested in unless they see it. It’s good to expose people to another way of thinking and another philosophical approach to life. What’s [great] about the show is the diversity of work that’s there is always amazing. There are so many different approaches at the [Archie Bray Foundation]. For us to be able to bring a slice of that for people to see is a unique opportunity.”
The Archie Bray Foundation is a public, nonprofit educational institution located in Helena whose primary focus is to “provide an environment that stimulates creative work in ceramics,” according to the website. The center provides facilities for artistic creation as well as associations with various professional artists. “These are artists who’ve applied from an international pool and have been selected to work here,” said DeWeese, “They’re young enough that students can relate but they can also see the caliber of the work and know what to expect.”
DeWeese served as the resident director of the foundation from 1991-2006 and now works with another assistant professor, Jeremy Hatch, to bring the high caliber art produced there to the students and the community of MSU. “Archie Bray is unique resource for MSU, but also for the country,” DeWeese said “It’s one of the top research institutions in the world for ceramic art. It feels like a no brainer; we do this each spring because it feels like we would be missing out if we weren’t.”
On the subject of the Exit Gallery exhibition, Wilson said, “Although [the art] is all ceramic, it definitely doesn’t all look the same. Both Brooks Oliver and Christopher Dufala are showing some really incredible pieces of work that are unique to their own interests and inspirations. I encourage everyone to stop by the gallery and take a look.”
Bray Days, an event the College of Art and Architecture has brought to campus formally for the past 10 years, also includes ceramics demos from Oliver and Dufala in the Haynes Hall Ceramics Studio at 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. and again at 1:10 – 3:50 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 19. There will be an artist talk with both artists immediately following the second demo in Cheever Hall room 214 and a reception in the Exit Gallery with the artists beginning at 5:30 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.