76 Cups of Clay on the Wall

Kingsley Permenter’s ceramics work is on display through April 27 as part of the 2017 Spring Baccalaureate exhibit.

Each year, the Memorial Union Gallery hosts graduating seniors in the visual arts department as they present their final projects.

From April 11 to 27, seven baccalaureates have their work on display to let others see the work they’ve made during their time at NDSU.

Kingsley Permenter, graduating with a bachelor’s of fine arts with an emphasis in ceramics, created 76 individual cups, each from the same material, made the same way. However, each cup has its own unique characteristics.

“All the marks are, you know, if I’m listening to music or if there’s people around me, even if they’re annoying or fun to talk to, it kinda comes out a little bit in those mark makings through the environment,” Permenter said. “All of them, too, are made of the same material. So, even if you see the differences in colors, that’s just because of the environment they were fired in. It has nothing to do with what they were made of. They’re all made out of the exact same thing, put through the exact same process, it’s just the kiln was fired a little bit differently and it just changed them completely.”

Permenter originally started at NDSU studying printmaking. His grandmother, Marjorie Schlossman (another artist in the F-M community) introduced him to the process.

“Doing printmaking, I found that I really enjoy the process,” he said. “Then, I found that with ceramics, it kind of takes the process and amps it up a little bit more. There’s more of it.”

Despite being made and fired the same way, each of Permenter’s cups are unique in color and texture, making them individual parts of a whole.

Permenter’s beginnings in printmaking translates into his ceramic work now. The markings he makes on his cups are not only the influence of the environment, but they’re prints, in a sense. Specifically, it’s the monoprints he made in the beginning: one-of-a-kind imagery, made into pottery.

“I kind of evolved and took (printmaking) and added a dimension to it,” Permenter elaborated. “I’m taking one work and making it something more. Especially with these being made out of stone, now, after they’re fired, they can last thousands of years, which is pretty awesome. It’s like, ‘I made this?'”

Permenter’s art is not just for observing. The 40 pieces in the gallery proper and the 36 pieces in (A)Part gallery are all meant to be held, creating an interaction between the artist, the artwork and the viewer.

“When people usually go into galleries, you’re not supposed to touch the work,” Permenter said. “But it’s a cup. People are very comfortable touching cups. I mean, I don’t think there’s anyone in the world that has never touched a cup.”

The patterns on the cups make them rough, smooth, something worth touching.

“Being on this rough clay, the marks look really rough and jagged. But then when you feel them, you find that there’s a rhythm behind them and a texture that’s very nice,” Permenter said. “It’s just trying to show people that sometimes you have to push past the stereotypes and those ways that you see things. You have to interact with it and fully and understand what it is and its usefulness and all that. You know, it kind of goes back to the whole, ‘Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.’ Just retelling that tale.”

After graduation, Permenter is planning on moving south. After living in the Jackson, Mississippi, area for 18 years of his life, Permenter has gotten his fill of Fargo winters.

“While I love the community and everything in Fargo, I’m not used to these winters and they do not treat me well,” Permenter laughed.

The grooves and textures of each of the cups all depend on the environment they were made in. Each person, each song and a little bit of Permenter’s beginnings as a printmaker all contribute to the unique designs.

He hopes to continue making his artwork, doing “creative things and for people to respond to them and hopefully generate a little bit of income.”

After being at NDSU, Permenter realized he can make art into something more than just “doodles here and doodles there.”

“It’s just like (art) is what I do, it’s not like this is going to be anything,” he said. “Then, when I got to NDSU, it was like, ‘Hey, you can make this something.’ It kind of gave me that option that I didn’t really know that I had because I didn’t think about it that way.”

Permenter’s work is currently on display in the Memorial Union Gallery, and will be until April 27. For more of Permenter’s work, visit his online portfolio, kingsleypermenter.work.

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