An Alternative Perspective of Agriculture Through Ceramics By Andi Magnuson & Max McCann

Nicholas Meyer, from a young age, has always been interested in art.

“When I was 10 years old, I was like any other kid switching constantly of what I wanted to do,” Meyer said. “Art was always on my mind though.”

The fact that he grew up on a farm in a small town in Iowa only builds to his artistic creativity because as a child he was always creating or building something.

“I was building ladders, and grappling hooks, simple stuff like that,” Meyer said.

In Meyer’s Senior Year of high school, he discovered his love for ceramics. Meyer says the interest started because he realized there was more to ceramics than just pots, plates and bowls.

“I really found the beauty of clay, and that it can do anything,” Meyer said. “It's responsive immediately to your touch.”

From that point on, Meyer was immersed with clay. When it came time for him to attend college, he knew he wanted to do something with ceramics. Meyer first completed his Associate of Arts at Hawkeye Community College in Iowa. After that, he continued on to receive his Bachelor of Art and Master of Art at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Meyer has also taught Beginning Ceramics at the University of Mississippi in 2016, Adult Ceramic Classes at Waterloo Center for the Arts in Waterloo, Iowa from 2012-2015, Ceramics 1 at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa from 2011-2015, Adult, Teen and Children ceramic classes at the Hearst Center for the Arts, Cedar Falls, Iowa from 2005-2015 and he has taught one week as a substitute teacher for Ceramics I, II, III and the undergraduate classes at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls Iowa in 2012.

"I would like people to learn about the arts and to have an appreciation of it ," Meyer said. "It looks easy, but it has taken a long time to perfect. I think that is the best thing people could take away from the ceramic arts."

“Nick doesn’t act like a professor, rather he talks to you like a friend,” Chuqi Min, a former student of Meyer said. “He cares for my work, and I appreciate him for that .”

He is now a Master of Fine Arts candidate at the University of Mississippi where he continues to refine his skills in ceramics under the instruction Matt Long and of some top professors on campus.

"Matt Long is an internationally known artist dealing with pottery, and he is a wonderful person to talk to about my work and his work," Meyer said.

When Meyer started at the university, his art was more functional like cups and bowls. Now his artworks are taking more of a sculptural aspect by using spheres, lines and textures.

Meyer is now in a stage of his development where he is not only creating art, but also contextualizing the meaning of his work. He says that he has started to realize that the lines, curvatures and other details to nature can be really complex, and because of that, he has been able to focus in on every little detail in his work in order to convey his perspective in a better way.

"My work is definitely changing I can't tell you right now if my work is going to be pottery in the future or if it is going to be sculptural," Meyer said. "I just try to internalize the questions I get from my professors and my peers and try to react and be honest about that reaction in the work I do."

When Meyer first moved to Mississippi, he received quite the culture shock. However, he has learned to combine his experiences from home into the practices he’s learned in Mississippi to form his perspective.

“The unique qualities of myself come from my home, a small town in Iowa, and how I have come to other areas of the south here in Mississippi,” Meyer said. “A unique quality is my perspective that I have brought with me and how I look at the material through a lens of a small farm in Iowa.”

Despite being a long way from home, Meyer uses his knowledge of agriculture and nature that he learned back home to construct art in a new perspective. These farm qualities contribute to his perspective of ceramics because it allows him to express his experience of human controlled nature in his work.

"Growing up on a farm put this work ethic in me,” Meyer said. “Not only that, but it is starting to come through in my work that I am doing now with fields, farmland and nature. I am starting to reference that in a lot of work that I do.”

"Nick is a consummate craftsman." Preston Tolbert, a peer of Meyer's said. "However, he is in the throes of exploration."

Ultimately, Meyer is trying to refine his art in a way that is true to the conversation of nature, agriculture and the ordered control of those things.

“I am trying to make something that is true to myself, and it’s true to the conversation,” Meyer said.

Nicholas Meyer creating a bowl for a project. Photos taken by Andi Magnuson on April 18, 2017.
Photos of Nicholas Meyer's finished work. Photos taken by Andi Magnuson May 2, 2017

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