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Exhibit highlights potters as neighbors and influences
"Vase" by DeWitt Smith is on display as part of "Focus on Appalachian Art: Trends in Contemporary Pottery," an exhibition that will be at North Georgia College & State University's Bob Owens Gallery in Dahlonega through Feb. 5.

"Focus on Appalachian Art: Trends in Contemporary Pottery"

When: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 3 to 6 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 5; reception and artist talk, 5 to 6:30 p.m. today
Where: Bob Owens Art Gallery, Hoag Student Center, North Georgia College & State University, 82 College Circle, Dahlonega
How much: Free; some pots for sale
More info: 706-864-1423

If you have a favorite mug, you might know that it’s not just the fact that it holds your coffee that makes it an object of your affection.

It’s a little, usable piece of art that shows the fingerprints of the potter who made it.

The latest exhibition at North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega focuses on potters making new kinds of fingerprints, from pottery as a canvas to an architectural form.

"Focus on Appalachian Art: Trends in Contemporary Pottery" at North Georgia’s Bob Owens Gallery through Feb. 5 gives visitors a look at 78 pieces from a group of eight Watkinsville potters.

Pamela Sachant, Assistant Professor of Art History and Visual Arts Coordinator at NGCSU, organized the exhibit.

"Every year we do an exhibition and we focus on some aspect of art from Southern Appalachia, Northern Georgia, however you want to phrase it," Sachant said.

"This time, knowing that there have been, for such a long time, communities of potters in this part of the world, I thought it would be interesting to go and approach a group of potters who live within close proximity of each other."

Sachant said she wanted to see how potters who live close to each other, but don’t work together, influence each other.

"It’s not that it’s one shop and they all work together, but there’s still this aspect of conversation, if you will, and I thought it was interesting to have a show that you can see, perhaps, ... a little bit of influence here," she said.

Sachant said the show also is evidence of the spectrum of different types of clay art.

"Oh, my goodness, the things people are doing with clay," she said. "Many of the pieces are functional, of course. You know, there are pitchers or platters or whatever it might be. But also the emphasis on shape and color, for some of them, the playfulness of the way they use the clay, for others the seriousness of it — it’s become almost an architectural form."

Sachant said an example is Jerry Chappelle, a former University of Georgia professor who owns Chappelle Gallery in Watkinsville with his wife, Kathy Chappelle.

"Artists like Jerry, he at this point is using his clay vessel or object almost as a drawing board. He draws on his pieces and then paints them, so it’s like they’re curved canvases, almost," Sachant said.

"Katie McFarland, she is from Florida, and she does a lot of sea creatures. For example, one of the casseroles in the show, the handle on the lid is a sea star, so there’s a whimsy to her work. Don Penny’s work — very sculptural, very severe."

Sachant said one aspect of the show that she loves is the wide appeal of the variety of pieces.

"No matter if you’re into very, very traditional forms or absolutely cutting edge, there’s something there," she said.

Potters represented in the show include McFarland, Penny, Jerry Chappelle, Jeff Bishoff, Geoff Pickett, DeWitt Smith, Carol Van Sant and Joshua Winterhawk.

A reception for "Trends in Contemporary Pottery" will be from 5 to 6:30 p.m. today in North Georgia’s Hoag Student Center Great Room, followed by "Making and Marketing Contemporary Clay," a panel discussion, at 6:30 p.m. in the Hoag Auditorium.