Fascinated by the preservation of our past, Mitchell Spain (b. Des Moines, IA 1987) is a ceramic artist using highly technical processes to craft porcelain vessels and sculptures. After receiving his BFA at the University of Iowa, he went on to receive his MFA from the University of Kansas graduating with Honors. He has exhibited in galleries both nationally and internationally, and his work can be found in private and public collections across the world. He draws inspiration from the Iowa family farmland on which he was raised, where he now raises his young son alongside his wife.
Clay resurrects the past. It revives old memories and awakens my lineage of artistic relatives. My bond to this medium is rooted in my deep connection to the rural Iowa farmland on which I spent much of my time growing up. Within my art, I’m taken back to my earliest memories of digging through 100 years of farm equipment, rusty car parts, and unidentified objects in the barns and buildings my family built their lives around.
These remnants of a bygone era were preserved with the intention of reuse as a means to save money, a widespread practice in rural America following the Great Depression. The ingenuity needed to economically refurbish old equipment and tools was born out of necessity and passed down through the generations of my family. The idea of being able to reinvent a purpose for an object, and the challenge of the process, resonates with me and is a foundation of my work as an artist.
I create sculptures and functional porcelain vessels with a facade of rust and decaled imagery. These refined and technically compelling pieces appear to be selected directly from an old barn and their vintage inspired labels and ultra-realistic rust paint a vivid picture of time, emotions and memories conserved.