Fawn, Ligonier artists recognized in ‘Art of the State’ exhibit
This tea pot holds more than water. It contains the hours of blood, sweat and tears it took to make it.
Known as the “Blue Bunny Tea Pot,” it was chosen to be showcased in the “Art of the State 2019 Exhibition,” held June 23-Sept. 8 at The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg.
Designed and created by Ron Korczynski of Fawn, the tea pot was one of 2,170 entries vying for a place in the exhibit — the largest submission pool in more than a decade — from which 110 works of art were selected.
“I cannot properly put into words the feel of the clay in my hands, the growth of the pots as they change from a shapeless mass into a bowl, casserole or vase, the look of the dry glazes as I decorate, the touch and visual experience of the work as it comes from the kiln,” says Korczynski from the studio inside his home.
He says he makes pottery because he derives pleasure from seeing a vase holding flowers, a casserole being cooked in, bowls being used to serve or a platter simply being enjoyed visually.
“I want to make good pots for people to enjoy functionally, visually and tactually,” he says. “The work is about love.”
From the purest form
Korczynski begins with clay.
For this tea pot, he created two halves and then put them together, added a spout, handle and lid before the piece was fired and then hand-painted.
The tea pot is a low-fire piece, which is the preferred method for items that are brightly colored or with intricate designs, he says.
He says he enjoys making tea pots because he is a tea drinker. This isn’t the first time his work has been featured in the state show.
“He impresses viewers with his colorful designs and sense of whimsy,” says Amy Hammond, fine arts curator and Art of the State project director.
Korczynski, who has created pottery for decades, perfects his craft full-time now after retiring from more than three decades of teaching art in the Highlands School District. He hand sketches everything in his home studio — which started in a garage so that he could be home when his children were young. He also has a gallery in his house.
Korczynski says it is so nice when people buy what he makes. It also helps with funds, so he “can buy more materials to continue making more stuff.”
While he wasn’t the most talented student in art class as a child, he says, he always loved making things.
“I love to create and I feel so fortunate to have my work appreciated,” he says.
Korczynski works in stoneware, porcelain and, more recently, earthenware. The stoneware and porcelain pieces are functional, while the earthenware pieces lean toward the nonfunctional. All are decorated with bright glazes. He incorporates animals, like fish and horses, and flowers into many of his designs.
His work has been featured in Ceramic Design Book, 500 Bowls, Tea Pots and Collectors. In 2010 and 2015 he was featured in the Potter’s Council Calendar, and on the cover in 2013. His work can be seen in approximately 30 galleries around the country.
“We keep our prices reasonable, because we want people to be able to afford and enjoy it,” says Korczynski’s wife, Judy. “He loves what he does and his use of color and design on each individual piece is quite elaborate. Many of his pieces are included in museums and private collections nationally and internationally.”
For him, painting on clay is as natural and important as eating and breathing, he says. He makes pots from his own molds of Styrofoam and wood. A painted piece may also be fired with a clear glaze to give the surface a shine and to preserve it.
A connection through art
Korczynski’s pottery is unique, says Paul Sirofchuck of Ligonier, a woodworker who makes fine contemporary furniture and is also being featured in “Art of the State.”
“He is as much a painter as a sculptor,” says Sirofchuck, who co-owns Main Exhibit Gallery and Art Center in Ligonier with his wife Mandy and sells Korczynski’s work. “I respect him as an artist. He is a perfectionist. He won’t sell something that’s not first-class. He and I see our craft as a way of life, not a way of making a living.”
The respect is mutual.
“Paul’s work is amazing,” says Korczynski. “I have many pieces in my house.”
The early years
Sirofchuck made his first piece of furniture at age 5. It was a bench he made at his uncle’s cabinet shop.
Sirofchuck went on to earn a shop award in high school for a rocking chair and other items he created.
His piece in “Art of the State” is called “Embrace the View Dressing Mirror.”
The “focus of this dressing mirror, constructed of solid cherry with wedge and aluminum accents, is on the gathering place for the ritual of adorning oneself,” he says. “The various sized sculpted drawers hold elements of decoration to celebrate one’s life: favorite jewelry, scarves, lingerie, a journal, etc. The adjacent shelf holds a vase of flowers or a glass of wine.”
“I value originality and beauty of form,” says Sirofchuck, a trained architect with a degree from Temple University. “My work in wood reflects the elegant union of rawness and refinement, crafted using traditional joinery techniques. I have a passion for the exploration of design and construction with this living material, inspired by the beauty of nature that surrounds my studio here in the woods of western Pennsylvania.
“I strive not to obscure the essence of the material by using natural-edged wood elements, such as burls or figured slabs, or by sculpting the wood into fluid, flower-like forms.”
He says he considers his furniture design to be “organic contemporary,” often directly influenced by a natural-edged wood element, such as a burl or figured slab. At other times, he says he interprets nature by sculpting the wood into fluid, flower-like forms.
He often pairs different types of wood in a piece.
Sirofchuck has won numerous awards, such as second place in the 2018 Southwestern Juried Art Exhibit in Ligonier and the 2014 Award of Excellence in Resolved Design, Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen, in Lancaster. He won first place in craft at the Art of the State exhibition in 2013 and 2011. He was awarded Best of Show in the Fred Rogers Regional Juried Art Exhibition in Latrobe and best of show three times for the Craftsmen’s Guild of Pittsburgh’s “A Fair In The Park.”
“Paul is an exquisite designer and an expert craftsman,” says Hammond.
“Art of the State”
“Art of the State” is an annual juried exhibition showcasing Pennsylvania artists. It celebrated 50 years in 2017. Pennsylvania residents from across the state are invited to apply. This year, the exhibition will feature artists from 35 counties, Hammond says.
Sirofchuck says the prestigious exhibition showcases the best art from all over the state.
“I am impressed with every artist in this show,” he says. “So when you win, you are among the best — because everyone is really talented and the competition is tough. But that’s what you want, the best competing against the best.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 412-320-7889, [email protected] or via Twitter .