Mitchell Spain

Mitchell Spain received his BFA in Ceramics from the University of Iowa in 2012. He grew up in rural Iowa, which is where he derives much of his subject matter. Mitchell has exhibited nationally and internationally and currently resides in Lawrence, Kansas where he is pursuing his MFA at the University of Kansas.

My work is about capturing the essence of used, repaired, and worn-out tools and materials. Using clay and the trompe l’oiel technique, I hypothetically “freeze” the material in time and preserve the character that it has accumulated from years of use, abuse, and repair. I often derive my ideas and subject matter from old farms, where there is an abundance of character-infused tools, wood, metal, and other objects. These farm tools get used over and over, repaired countless times; each knick or break in the tool or material has a story to tell. The notion that everything is used until its last leg is fascinating, and shows how inventiveness can come out of necessity to solve or fix a problem. It’s the small details of ingenuity, the creativeness and resourcefulness used, that I try to capture in my work. The tools and materials found at farms are also meaningful in a sense that, being from the Midwest, I have memories of going to the family farm, finding these dilapidated tools whose original purpose is long forgotten, and thinking of ways to encapsulate their presence in a modern setting. Most recently I have begun to explore the history of ceramics and its relationship to my work, incorporating blue and white imagery.