Only one week before CU artist Emily Schroeder’s MFA thesis exhibit was to open in the CU Art Museum, disaster struck.
As she was moving the centerpiece of her collection, a multimedia sculpture called Quelle (Fountain) that consists of over two thousand hanging porcelain beads, the wires holding the beads became hopelessly tangled, effectively ruining the piece.
“It was devastating to have worked on this for weeks and then have it ruined in like 20 minutes of moving it. It was horrible,” Schroeder said.
She was forced to restring all 2,000 beads, a daunting task for which 31 of her friends and colleagues in the art department came together to help with.
“Art usually ends up being such an individual thing. To have such a huge group of people come together and pitch in because they saw how important it was to me was really overwhelming, in a good way. If it hadn’t been for them there’s no way I would have finished,” she said.
They succeeded in reassembling the piece in time for the show’s opening, and Schroeder says it looks better now than it did before.
However, Quelle (Fountain) is only one part of Schroeder’s current exhibit. She is also displaying a series of ink drawings, called Fountain Studies, which depict sprays of water in various symmetrical patterns.
“When you get caught up in the movement of water spray it creates a conscious unconsciousness,” Schroeder said.
Each of the pieces in the Fountain Studies series is named after a body of water that has personal significance to Schroeder. The drawings do not directly portray that body of water, but rather channel the emotional quality that the memories of each place hold for Schroeder.
“This body of work is about the idea of losing yourself in remembrance of place. I was trying to create emotive qualities that remind me of those places,” she said.
For Schroeder, looking at the drawings recalls other times and places.
“When I look at them I remember my own personal stories. Memories of very specific events (are) associated with those places, both good and bad.”
Also included in the exhibit is a two-part piece entitled The Fog Has Lifted (The Sky Has Cleared). On one wall there sits a cluster of white and tan porcelain discs of varying sizes nailed into the wall at different heights to create the image of a cloud. On the opposing wall there is a similar arrangement of porcelain discs, only larger, darker and more ominous.
“It’s the idea of duality, of good and bad,” she said.
This exhibit at the CU Fine Arts Museum marks the culmination of Schroeder’s master’s studies in ceramics. Originally from Roseville, Minn., Schroeder attended the University of Minnesota as an undergrad before receiving a Jerome Grant to study ceramics in Canberra, Australia.
“The (Australian) landscape was really influential. It helped simplify my work,” Schroeder said.
Following her time in Australia, Schroeder spent two years as an artist-in-residence at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena, Mont. While in Montana, Schroeder decided to attend graduate school at CU.
“The ceramics department at CU is actually one of the best in the country. There were a lot of other schools to go to, but CU really emphasizes the conceptual nature of ceramics.”
Now that Schroeder will be graduating from the MFA program in December, her plan is to stay in Boulder and try to get her own studio.
“I want to stay in Boulder, keep on making artwork and (do) some more shows,” she said.
Schroeder is happy with her time at CU.
“I came to grad school to challenge myself more as an artist. I feel like I got out of the program what I wanted,” she said.