Joanne Gustafson’s porcelain art evokes childhood memories at Kortman Gallery

Joanne Gustafson’s “Headdress”

Staff Report

Joanne Gustafson is attracted to the anonymous, feminine, handmade types of massproduced crafts … particularly doilies, doll parts and animal figurines. These objects were part of the scenery of her childhood … and became visual influences for her porcelain sculptures, which go on exhibit Friday, Sept. 6, in the Kortman Gallery.

The exhibition, titled “Elusive Amalgams,” is ceramic art influenced by craft, thrift and even kitsch that relives and reinvents Gustafson’s imagination of childhood memories.

Because I feel such strong correlations between playtime as a child and studio time as an adult, I try to seal this notion in something finer and more fragile than the memories: porcelain,” Gustafson said. “This way, I give my past a certain presence. Dolls, doilies and animal figurines are scenery from places where, as a child, I took play most seriously.”

A recent graduate of Rockford University with a bachelor’s of fine arts in drawing and ceramics, Gustafson employs a variety of techniques, from wheel-throwing to slab- and hand-building to slip-casting, creating unusual combinations of imagery in a single piece of art.

Joanne Gustafson’s “This Way”

Joanne’s unconventional porcelain pieces really grab your attention,” said Kortman Gallery director Doc Slafkosky. “Things like doll heads and arms aren’t quite where they should be, which is both fascinating and peculiar, and at the same time cute and creepy. They are really fun to see.”

The opening reception for “Elusive Amalgams,” works in porcelain by Joanne Gustafson, will be from 5:30 to 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 6, in the Kortman Gallery, upstairs at J.R. Kortman Center for Design, 107 N. Main St. Admission is free. The show is part of First Fridays Downtown.

Elusive Amalgams” will be on display through Sept. 30. Call (815) 968-0123 or visit for more details.

From the Sept. 4-10, 2013, issue

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