On the road retooling creativity

By SHEA STANFIELD

ARTS COLUMNIST

“I was halfway across America at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future,” Jack Kerouac wrote in his book, “On the Road.”

 

Over the last six-months local ceramic artist Sylvia Fugmann-Brongo has travelled thousands of miles across our nation retooling her artistic inspiration. As she reflects on her journey of creativity, Sylvia considers herself fortunate to have benefited from a strong art program and an outstanding art teacher, Judith Burkhardt, during her four years of high school.

 

There she gained a firm foundation in painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture and clay. Stepping into her college years Sylvia knew her major was going to be art. Meeting ceramics professor Mary Jane Edwards at Nazareth College of Rochester provided both inspiration and focus for Sylvia’s college years. As well as her career as a ceramic artist.

Sylvia loved the fluidity, organic feel and the smells of the earth working with clay provided. She discovered creating by hand, with slabs and coils of clay gave her the maximum amount of freedom for her inspiration.

 

Using hand-built methods Sylvia’s creations could be freeform, organic and possess a surprisingly fun quality. Combine these with innovative textural combinations and eclectic color application of Sylvia’s ceramic pieces, which come in the forms of vase, wall plaque, garden ornament, bowl or even a mural, and it creates captivating conversational pieces for both indoor and outdoor environments.

 

“To this day Professor Edwards and I stay in contact over Facebook,” Sylvia is happy to report.

 

In 1981, Sylvia completed her bachelor’s in an art education degree, and soon after in 1983 she established a working clay studio traveling nationally and internationally gathering inspiration for her work.

 

Along the way she participated in a number of juried solo and group exhibitions.

Locally, Sylvia’s work can be seen in Vision Gallery in Chandler and Wild Holly Gallery, in Carefree (wildhollygallery.com).

 

Recently, Sylvia was commissioned to create a wall mounted ceramic mural entitled “Passage to Realization.” The grant-funded project includes ceramic figures and textural elements that celebrate a student’s journey toward higher education. Using shapes, colors and a linear pathway the completed piece is on permanent display in the student affairs building at Paradise Valley Community College Campus at 32nd Street and Union Hills Drive in North Phoenix.

“This clay piece, just as any ceramic piece, invites the observer not only to view, but also touch, the shapes for a complete visual and tactile experience,” Sylvia says about the mural.

 

In December 2017, Sylvia’s piece “Caged Animals,” won the Best of Show at the Small Works exhibition sponsored by the Sonoran Arts League. “Caged Animals” explores the idea of humans, as the caged animals, while other animals walk by freely and pass judgment on them.

 

In addition to Sylvia’s success as a professional artist she also teaches ceramic workshops for children, through the Vision Kidz program with Vision Gallery in Chandler. In February 2019 Sylvia will be teaching a workshop on Bookmaking, also with Vision Gallery, for more information visit chandlercenter.org.

 

Sylvia is a participating artist in the annual Empty Bowls Project, as a member of the Sonoran Arts League. Over the years, since 2005, she has donated nearly 700 bowls to raise funds for the International Hunger Project. This year Sylvia is especially excited to introduce and share with the community her new home studio, teaching, and gallery space during the annual Hidden in the Hills Artist Studio and Tour.

 

Her studio #35 will be host to five local artists, in a stunning 700-square-foot space during the last two weekends of November. sonoranartsleague.org.

 

To view a selection of Sylvia’s work, stay up to date on current shows or classes she offers visit sylvia-art.com. Sylvia also accepts commissions and can be contacted by e-mail at sylviafugmann@gmail.com, or by calling the studio at 480-488-4749.