Empty Air: The Art of Maggie Connolly

April 18, 2024 - August 18, 2024

Artist Information

Artist Statement
I am classically trained in high craft, specifically in the material of ceramics. This means that every starting point comes from the perspective of understanding materials, processes and techniques. Every journey is considered a conversation between me and the work, where I don’t have an end in mind. Every goal is oriented towards creating connection, both within, without and between.

The majority of the work in this show, however, is drawing. Something that strikes closer to the more vulnerable parts of my heart. I started drawing in earnest while I was in my graduate program in Japan. The profound isolation of being an outsider and guest to another culture, forcing me to express myself the only way I knew how, and in ways that I could not through the clay material. I often worked on these drawings at night, after spending all day in the studio at school, or on the weekends, when I had no other plans, a poor graduate student living month to month in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

The title of this show is “Empty Air”, which is an interpretation of the Latin word for “fool”, follis, which has also been translated as bellows or leather bag – one that blows air. Indeed, the concept of air is central to Japanese culture and philosophy. For “ma” is the kanji for space, taken from the original Chinese character. We live in the space of the house, not the house itself. When constructing art, we have to consider the negative space first, before engaging the positive. Indeed, the air and how to read it appropriately is a necessity to survival in Japan.

Artist Bio
Maggie Connolly is a classically-trained artist in high craft and author from Dubuque, low. After earning her undergraduate degree from Grinnell College in 2007, she made her way to China eventually becoming the first American graduate to earn a MFA in Ceramics from Tsinghua University in Beijing. In 2017, she became the second American to earn a Ph. D from Tokyo University of the Arts for studio ceramics. In Spring of 2019 she finished a two year post-doctorate program there. From 2019 to 2020, she spent a year as an Artist-in-Residence at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. She has published multiple articles in Ceramics Monthly related to her travels throughout Asia researching ceramics. Currently, she is a full-time professional artist at Mighty Mud Studios in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Exhibit Details