Nature-inspired: The Grower of Vessels Returns to River Oaks Arts Center


Nature-inspired: The Grower of Vessels Returns to River Oaks Arts CenterIf you could grow art, it would look something like Conner Burns’ exhibit at River Oaks. Conner Burns, a Mississippi artist with a studio in downtown Natchez, takes inspiration for his art from nature itself. His pieces have an organic quality, making them appear as if they ‘grew that way’. The artist will make a visit to River Oaks for the start of his exhibit entitled “ziklag”, where some of his latest work will be on display. Conner will also be conducting a two-day workshop, teaching his students about his style of ‘throwing and altering vessels’. Students will be creating their own vessels, Connerstyle, with a similar organic look and feel. The workshop, held at River Oaks on October 4th and 5th, is the third in a series of arts education workshops sponsored by GAEDA.


Burns, exposed to a variety of visual and performing arts during his childhood, did not only learn about pottery from the various museum visits that filled formative years. Rather, his life was filled with the pottery his father created and that was, through daily use, intrinsically woven into his youth. Although he was not interested in clay then, his interest surfaced in his mid-twenties and Conner eventually took time off his healthcare job to pursue pottery full time. A path he has stayed on ‘til this day. In his slide lecture on October 4th at 9:00am, Conner will show some of his work, giving visitors a deeper understanding of the ‘grown look and feel’ that makes his work so unique, and in the way only nature is capable of making things, beautiful. “Conner had an exhibit here at River Oaks in 2008 and we have had many inquiries since then to bring his work back again,” says Rachael Dauzat, Executive Director at River Oaks. “You have to understand – Conner’s work sparks the imagination in a way few others do. You can almost see how different vessels would grow the way he makes them. Almost as if the clay follows Conner’s touch the same way a flower will grow toward the sun.”


Always seeing opportunity in interaction with the public, Dauzat looks forward to every part of Burns’ two day visit. “People are often bystanders in the world of art – workshops and demos give them the opportunity to toe the line a little, understand what might have been going on in the artist’s mind, and most of all, seeing themselves as a creator. It is important for artists to interact with the patrons of the arts and other artists, one of the unique opportunities that we can create here at River Oaks.” Amy Glisan will be one of the other exhibiting artists at River Oaks from October 5th and into November. The Pineville resident, originally from New Orleans, has long been known for her unique style of acrylic on clayboard paintings that draw inspiration from varied sources, including architecture, folk art and textile designs.  Glisan’s featured exhibit will focus on plants of the Bible.   The featured artist in the Stokes-Harris Gallery will be Mark Rabalais, a Pineville resident and participant in Lafayette’s Big Easel 2011. His simple and fun approach on art has earned him regional recognition. “My art is meant to rejoice simpler times, back to a time when the most complex of emotions could be expressed with little commotion,” explains Rabalais.


Spaces in the two-day Burns workshop are available for $100 through River Oaks. All three exhibits featuring Burns, Glisan and Rabalais begin October 3rd and continue through November 24th, with an exhibit opening reception, during the Fall ArtWalk, on Friday, October 5th from 4:00pm to 9:00pm.  Conner Burns will also provide a demonstration at 6:00pm during the event.  Amy Glisan will provide a gallery talk, referencing her exhibit, at 7:00pm.    The reception and ArtWalk are free and open to the public. For more information, workshop registration or to RSVP for the demonstration, call (318) 473-2670.  Exhibits and workshops sponsored by GAEDA.