Abel ties cracked and dirt art to nature

Decaying sidewalks, statues missing arms, and “perfection through imperfection.” For Tom Abel, this is art at its finest.

Photo by Megan Grunke
Photo by Megan Grunke

Abel, whose ceramic work is currently on display in the Ylvisaker Fine Arts Center, is an artist who aims for imperfection. His plates are cracked and his vases appear ancient.

“This is my type of art for sure,” said Ezra Grabau, a history major who appreciated the ancient appearance.  Alyssa Inniger praised it as “dirty—but on purpose.”

In his lecture on Jan. 17, Abel spoke of when his family began, he stopped making art. Then seven years ago, after his youngest daughter got her driver’s license, he suddenly had something he had not had in years—time.

His words of encouragement to the audience: “It’s never too late to get back into doing something you love.”

Junior Marcus Ruiz said these words stuck out to him: “That really encouraged me…to keep striving at the things I love doing.”

When Abel started up again, he “just went gung ho,” making pottery he thought was “different and interesting and thought others would too.”

Two themes he stresses are imperfection and uniqueness. He tries to do everything freehand, not wanting “to make anything too perfect,” and he believes every artist should always experiment and make their work different from anyone else’s rather than conforming to whatever is “trendy.”

Tom Abel’s “Cracked Clay” will be on display in the gallery through Feb. 22.


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