by Savana Morie
Students and faculty of Pensacola State College came together last Thursday, Feb. 20, to honor this year’s Switzer Distinguished Artist Jo Stealey, who considered the honor an “absolute thrill.”
The reception, which began at 6 p.m in the Anna Lamar Switzer Center for Visual Arts on the Pensacola campus, was free to anyone wanting an inside look into Stealey’s life, inspiration and methods.
With over 25 years of experience in weaving, ceramics and paper making, Stealey finds a large portion of her inspiration through the natural Missouri landscape she’s surrounded by.
Her all-natural mediums sometimes come right from her backyard, such as leaves and plants. She uses these to create functional vessels meant to both seduce and repulse the viewer, representing home, hearth, relationships and small, everyday occurrences.
“It’s not the outstanding moments of my life that are inspiring to me,” Stealey said, “It’s the, ‘Oh, I’m washing the dishes and looking out the window, gee, this could be an interesting idea to pursue.’ And I never know when it’s going to hit me; I could look at something every day and not think about it and all of a sudden I’ll be looking at the same thing and interpret it in a very different way.”
Stealey’s art has brought her great success, her work being exhibited both nationally and around the world in countless galleries, museums, books and magazines.
In addition to being a renowned artist, Stealey is also an educator.
“I teach at the University of Missouri, so I am a college professor myself,” she said. “I do a lot more than train artists. The majority of students we teach go on to do other things. What we teach that is unique to the visual arts is how to find problems and inventively solve them, and we need more and more of those kinds of people.”
Stealey hosted several workshops and gallery walkthroughs on Feb. 19 ,20 and 21 as a part of her stay here in Pensacola, giving students the opportunity to learn more from her experience.
The gallery will continue to showcase Stealey’s work through March 7. Admission is free and open to the public Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
For more information on the Switzer Center, call 850-484-1000.