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The Scarlet & Black

Schrift exhibits innovative pots, travels with pastels

By Carl Sessions

Scenes of bicyclists riding down a Parisian beach, a couple sharing a rowboat ride in Park Vincennes and a snapshot of three young musicians in Belgium are all depicted by Jill Davis Schrift in delicate, muted pastel in her new exhibit at the Grinnell Arts Center Gallery.

The show, entitled “Jill Davis Schrift: Collages, Drawings, Works in Clay” opened April 5 and showcases Schrift’s multi-media talent in pastel drawing, stoneware sculpture and collage.

Clay pots are on display alongside scenic paintings inspired by Schrift’s travels. Photograph by Carl Sessions

“Part of the Arts Council’s mission is to represent talented local artists,” said Molly Rideout ’10, Grinnell Area Arts Council Arts and Residency Director. “I was astounded at the work once it was finished.”

Schrift’s wide variety of work fills the Gallery. On two walls are her pastel portraits. All 16 are realistic depictions of European scenes. In one frame, yellow sunflowers line a French countryside, in another, a woman reads a book underneath a blue parasol. The scenes feature muted colors and soft tones, which is fitting for the everyday subject matter.

According to her artist’s statement that accompanies the exhibit, Schrift chooses her content to reflect her experiences of traveling.

The theme of travel permeates through the show, as Schrift’s 11 mixed-media collages use paper artifacts that she found in a Parisian flea market. These collages contain different content than her pastel paintings, which were relatively straightforward. In one collage, “Vectors,” there are mathematical diagrams and angles drawn over a red background and orange textured fabric.

Perhaps the most striking part of the show is the giant stoneware pots that greet the visitor upon entering. The four largest ones, with names like “Big Mamma L” and “Jumbo Mamma” exemplify Schrift’s vision and prowess manipulating clay. According to her artist’s statement, the large pots were inspired by massive Terracotta pots that she saw in Portugal.

In the corner of the Gallery are several small tan pots that appear to have slight, symmetrical cracks running down their sides. This design is the product of a new method she has experimented with. The cracks occur by applying sodium silicate to the clay, which results in a unique finish.

Schrift’s show will be open until April 27, and is located at the Grinnell Arts Center Gallery located on 926 Broad Street.

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