Artist and teacher, Mark Muckenfuss, will be launching an exhibition of his work with a reception at Mojo Gastro Pub in Bayshore Mall on Saturday, 4 Sept., starting at 6pm.
The collection of pottery pieces and drawings is the result of many months of work, after finding the tools and community of creatives in Cayman that helped to feed his passion.
When Muckenfuss first moved to the islands four years ago, he lamented the fact that he was unable to find an available pottery wheel anywhere here.
Left without the release of turning clay into vases, pitchers, bowls and the occasional odd creation, he joined the Open Canvas group that meets every Wednesday at KARoo. There, he turned to drawing to exercise his artistic expression.
Eventually, he gained access to a pottery studio, and since then he has been producing unique items that are unmistakably original.
“Art has always been a part of my life,” Muckenfuss said. “My father, Paul, was an artist and taught high school art for many years. He’s 87 and still teaches classes at his local community center in California.”
Growing up, he said, he often watched his father paint and was encouraged to do the same.
“At least until they discovered I was colour blind,” he said. “Then they said, ‘Here, better stick with a pencil’.”
He now works exclusively with charcoal, doing mostly fine-detail portraits, figure studies and wildlife sketches.
Two years ago, when Art Nest acquired some pottery wheels, he began teaching classes as well as doing work of his own. He first learned the art of ceramics in high school and has worked in the medium, periodically, throughout his life.
“I throw classic forms,” Muckenfuss said. “But I also like to combine thrown work with slab pieces and hand building. I’m particularly interested in deconstructing pieces in various ways.”
He has taught hundreds of students how to create their own pieces on the wheel. In addition to teaching classes at Art Nest, he also offers courses at the Cayman Visual Arts Society’s studio at Pedro St. James.
“I love introducing people to the wheel,“ he said. “They start out completely unsure about the process and by the time the class is over they’ve got something to take home that they’re really excited about. We just have a blast.”
Muckenfuss has also taught drawing classes through both arts organisations.
A career journalist, he wrote for the Cayman Compass for a time before moving to the University College of the Cayman Islands, where he works in the marketing department and also teaches English composition.
His show at Mojo is a continuation of month-long shows the restaurant has been holding since hosting the ‘Sexuality in Art’ exhibit earlier this year.
The Saturday reception is open to the public.