Gallery Tour: Artist Jeri Hollister
A love of horses leads to clay sculptures that evoke ancient paintings.
Jeri Hollister grew up in rural Michigan, filling sketchbooks with drawings of the horses at her grandparents’ and her aunt and uncle’s farms. Recalling her childhood, she laughs. “If I had a horse [as a girl], I probably wouldn’t be making them out of clay.”
Luckily for equine enthusiasts and art collectors alike, Hollister has chosen to express her unfulfilled desire through striking minimalist tiles and spirited freestanding sculptures, like her Wood-fired Stoneware Tribute (above). According to Hollister, the piece was built “cooking show style” in front of a live audience at Michigan’s Henry Ford Museum. “I’ve made a lot of horse sculptures,” Hollister admits. “Some of them, like this one, surprise me. The gesture, the balance, the way the finger marks move across the piece ... it’s magical.”
While earning her B.A. in art history and her M.F.A. in ceramics at the University of Michigan, Hollister was inspired by how artists depicted horses through the ages and across the continents. Her ceramic tiles and sculptures reflect the influence of prehistoric cave paintings, Japanese Haniwa and Chinese Xi’an tomb figures, as well as the contemporary work of Deborah Butterfield and Susan Rothenberg.
More important than these academic influences, however, is Hollister’s own intuition as she throws closed forms on a wheel, tearing down and reassembling the parts seemingly at random to shape the legs, haunches, and curving neckline of a horse in motion. The results are energetic sculptures ranging in height from 6 inches to 2 feet, whose elegant curves and powerful lines reflect the grace and strength of the artist’s favorite subject.