What do you get when a potter and a painter combine their exceptional and distinct talents? This may sound like the start of a corny riddle, but the answer is what artists Darin Gehrke and Glory Day Loflin set out to discover in their recent collaboration.
Gehrke crafts functional pottery in the form of mugs, bowls, teapots, and plates with an Asian sensibility for the user’s sensory experience of each piece. “I like to make quiet pots,” says the artist, who spent a year abroad in China. “What I do is a mashup of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. The palette of glazes I’ve created over the years is also connected to those Asian cultures.”
Loflin, on the other hand, depicts her day-to-day surroundings on canvas in bold saturated colors and heavy black outlines. She merges patterns, rhythms, and colors in dynamic compositions with an appealing folk-art feel. “I’m interested in paper cutouts and silhouettes,” Loflin explains, “and I try to bring patterns together in creative ways.”
The two artists met four years ago when Gehrke moved to Greenville from New York City and opened a studio in the Village of West Greenville next door to Joseph Bradley, for whom Loflin was working at the time. They got to know each other through Gehrke’s wife, Cherington Shucker, who is executive director of the Greenville Center for Creative Arts where Loflin was a Brandon Fellow.
When Chef Greg McPhee commissioned Gehrke to make all the dinnerware for The Anchorage restaurant, the potter hired Glory Day to help him, as she also has experience with clay. “I became a fan of her art,” Gehrke recalls, “and when I saw the marks Glory was making, I knew they would work on my pots. The looseness of her designs complements the tightness of the form.”
In summer 2017, they threw themselves into a new project, creating a series of ceramic platters, vases, and canisters blending Gehrke’s graceful forms and Loflin’s simply defined drawings. “I enjoy the simple underlying geometry of Darin’s work,” says the painter. “How color and form work together in his functional pieces to create something so beautiful.”
The two zeroed in on bird and floral motifs, experimenting with different glazes and underglazes. Each of the 35 porcelain and stoneware pieces the pair created was fired three times. After forming the pieces, Gehrke did the initial bisque firing; then Loflin hand-drew her crisp lines and the pottery was fired a second time. Loflin added 22k gold lustre accents before one last firing at a lower temperature. Included in this body of work were white stoneware pieces decorated with black crows, a motif Loflin has been developing in her paintings.
Having so successfully integrated their two art forms (they’ve sold all but a few pieces of the first batch), the duo is preparing to tackle another pottery series together, this time focusing on the black-and-white stoneware and pushing the images further. Expect the final products to be decidedly greater than the sum of their parts.