Howard "Chip" Shaw III uses clay as a creative medium to connect to spirituality even when his inspiration comes from something that many would consider corporeal or mundane.
"Much of my work is inspired by the simplest elements of nature, which I see in a spiritual light," he says.
Take one piece on display in his half of the Landscapes of Change exhibit at the Commonwheel Artists' Co-op. Gilded on the inside with 24-karat gold, the piece actually is modeled after a gray and black stone that he uses as a doorstop.
"Stones might be viewed as the opposite of spiritual: lifeless, dead, physical," he says. "But for some reason perhaps their eternal quality they have had spiritual connotations throughout history."
Although Shaw has created his own glazes in the past, he used combinations of commercial glazes and gilding techniques to create the amazing visual effects on the pieces in this exhibit.
"I often layer the underglazes and glazes with a variety of application methods and use multiple firings," he says. "Some pieces are fired six or more times."
Shaw's first experience with clay was at the age of 4.
"I hated the stuff," he remembers. "It was extremely uncooperative. The pieces I tried to form were cracked and rather homely."
He didn't return to working with clay until a ceramics course in college. "Since then, I became hooked on clay. I feel like I know what to say with clay."
Landscapes of Change: Woodcuts by Jean Gumpper and Ceramics by Howard "Chip" Shaw III
Commonwheel Artists Co-op, 102 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs
Opening reception Friday, Aug. 25, 5-8 p.m.; show runs through Sept. 25.
Call 685-1008 or visit commonwheel.org for more information.