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Photos taken by Miles Bates
The Student Ceramic Show in Gallery 205, Porterfield Hall was a great success in showing how talented Radford University students can be. The show is available from Feb. 2 to 19, so you still have a chance to see these beautiful pieces in person!
Kala Marshall, a graduate student at Radford University, was one of the many artists who displayed their work during a ceramics show. She sculpted with paper clay. She found paper clay attractive because it is easier for her to use.
In the process of making paper clay, fibers are combined with other things, like toilet paper. She mixed everything together and then it dries. While sculpting, she referenced photos of animals at different angles. She repeated the process of sculpting each animal until she felt comfortable with that particular animal.
Marshall has been interested in art from an early age but she did not consider following art as a career until her high school days. At Radford, she earned a B.F.A. in sculpture, and then later returned for her master’s degree.
Upon walking into the room where her work is featured, people came face-to-face with an owl perched on a tree, a fawn, and trolls whose hair was made with vegetation. Nature and magic is what she is currently fascinated with. It stirred up a type of childhood curiosity – something that she wanted her audience to take with them.
“That’s what my main theme is. Taking many worlds within our own and things we don’t normally see … you’re seeing a little glimpse of something that is otherworldly,” said Marshall.
These little glimpses into another world are details that do not strike you at first, but pop up at a closer look according to Marshall. In a piece that is still a work in progress (not shown with her other works), she intended for mer-people in the display wearing jackets of false fish skin.
She describes her work as miniature fairy tales. They speak to her childhood, a time where everything seemed magical to her. As she aged, magic seemed to move farther and farther away. Her art is an attempt to regain that feeling of wonder.
“It’s almost like you pulled a chunk out of the ground and you put it down to show. It’s showing you, like, what’s happening in that little scene,” said Marshall.
Fantasy, fiction, and television inspired her art, but one artist in particular is closely connected to what she does. A master metalsmith that has visited national parks is a huge influence for Marshall. At the national parks he wrote short poems based upon what he saw and then created enamel that complimented his poems.
Freelancing is the next step, including marketing herself on Facebook and at art shows in Floyd and Blacksburg. However, her artistic toolbox is not limited to ceramics. She has worked in illustration before and created jewelry.
One of her goals after graduation is to write and illustrate children’s books. Marshall has already written fiction and thought about making stuffed animals or other objects to go with her books. She said that this would tie everything together for her.