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Crista Ann Ames Creates New Mythologies Through Art

January 2, 2018

On December 7, 2017, visiting artist Crista Ann Ames shared her ceramic sculpture and evolution as an artist with the University of Montana Western and community of Dillon, Mont.

Originally from Kennewick, Wash., Ames grew up on a small farm and was fascinated with animals, archaeology and biology.

During Ames’s artist talk held before the opening reception of her exhibit, “Vocabulary of the Self,” she expressed her interest in sharing her journey as an artist, especially with the students who attended the presentation.

Crista Ann Ames

While attending Washington State University where she received her BFA in ceramics, Ames was influenced by the rolling landscapes of the Palouse region, a rich agricultural area. Following post baccalaureate studies at Utah State University where she started to focus on wood fired pottery and figural work, she attended the University of Montana where she began to study studio dance and incorporate movement into the way she sculpts the human figure as she completed her MFA.

In addition to her educational background, Ames has received several residencies and opportunities to create art all over the world. Currently she is a long-term resident at the Red Lodge Clay Center, but has also been an artist in residence at A.I.R. Valluaris in France, Guldagergaard International Ceramics Research Center in Denmark, the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Mont., and The Clay Studio of Missoula, Mont.

Her residencies in France and Denmark also allowed her to observe the interactions of families in places like the marketplace as inspiration for her artwork, especially connections between mothers and children.

“Being a long-term resident of the Red Lodge Clay Center is exciting because the Center provides support for artists to push their work further than they could on their own,” Ames said.

Crista Ann Ames's Work

The unique facilities at the Center also provide opportunities for the artists in residence to engage the community through art classes for children and adults, as well as outreach programs that visit Red Lodge, Mont. area schools to provide exposure to the world of art to students in rural areas.

“Teaching others through artistic experiences helps them find their creative voices, but also helps us as teachers discover our own,” she said.

While she visited Montana Western, Ames also held a hands-on ceramics demonstration, showing students techniques for sculpting clay, including methods for sculpting realistic hands.

A sculptor who works in ceramics and other mediums including textiles, her exhibit focused on elements found in mythology and ancient symbols for femininity, animals found in myths, and the exploration of memory and how time degrades certain elements but leaves others intact over time.

“Animal characters have been used as stand-ins for the emotions of people in our lives, both historically and currently,” she said. “Combining these elements while drawing on other histories combined with my own narratives allow me to create new mythologies,” Ames said.

For more information about the University of Montana Western Fine Arts Gallery, please contact Aja Mujinga Sherrard by email at [email protected], or call 406-683-7313.