ABOUT LISA S. IRGANG – CERAMIC PAINTER
July 1, 2014 to September 28, 2014
Gratz College Kramer Gallery
Lisa grew up in Elkins Park. She attended Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), Tyler School of Art and Temple University, where she earned a M.Ed. in education. For several years she lived in the former Soviet Union before returning to the area to raise her two sons.
She taught art and humanities in the School District of Philadelphia before becoming an early intervention special instructor for infants and toddlers. Lisa currently works as a Special Education Advisor with the PA Department of Education.
Lisa has been working with ceramics for the past decade and is a guild member at the Sixth Sense Clay Collaborative Clay Studio (http://www.sixsensesclaystudio.com/) in Mt. Airy. She exhibits her work in the guild’s gallery space as part of an ongoing group show at the studio.
I like to make pictures; I always have. From earliest sentience, I have been making art, using crayon, pencil, marker, pastel, watercolor, gouache, oil and acrylic, ink, and, for the past seven years, firing glazes to cone 06 on manufactured and handmade low fire ceramic tiles.
I fill sketch books with plans and ideas, but when I begin painting on ceramic, the shapes and colors appear as they will – unsolicited – from childhood memories, from thoughts of people and places I have known and imagined. I work directly on bisque tiles with line and color, coaxing depth and texture using underglaze paints, chalks and pencil. I fire the tiles multiple times until the image is ready for a layer of clear glaze, transforming the ceramic surface to completion through the final firing.
Tile compositions leave my studio to hang on walls, decorate fireplace surrounds and adorn kitchen backsplashes and bathrooms as fine art pieces or functional works incorporated into the domestic sphere of daily living.
I dedicate much of my recent art to the memory of my great-grandparents, Sarah Szporn and Shmuel Majer Tchorz, of Włocławek. The dark mystery of their deaths – earthly remains hidden deep within thickly wooded forests or beneath stony riverbeds of swiftly flowing waters – makes me dream of travel to the past, or to some ghostly place where forsaken Jewish souls hover mutely. I greet my revered ancestors:
“I am the grandchild of your beloved daughter, the child of your darling grandson! How sorry I am that you have waited so long. Surely, you must have thought you were forgotten. But now we are together, and I embrace you. I raise my voice, singing to you of holiness, Sarah Szporn and Shmuel Majer Tchorz, liberating your souls with ancient Hebrew prayer!”
Russian folk art, Persian and Indian Miniature painting, Bauhaus theory and design, abstract expressionism with mid-century modern design elements drawn from the architecture, textiles, building materials, and art of the 20th century, paintings of Gauguin, the naïve art of Ilex Beller’s Shtetl remembrances, and the Little Golden Book illustrations of Campbell Grant, Tibor Gergely, and Gertrude Elliot are influences that inform my work.