Crowns! A touring art exhibition with our own Jessica Gardner

Crowns was proposed as an exhibit examines the transition that occurs while “crossing into motherhood,” as a “monumental shift in a woman’s life” The exhibit not only addresses how women’s roles shift when they become mothers, but also who they are as women and artists.  The role on motherhood can be all encompassing and does not come with an easy path for most.   As artists, the eight women visually reflect, “on their experiences in the currents of motherhood.”

Crowns at Ann Arundel Community College

The “Crowns” tour is being spearheaded by NOVA’s own, ceramics faculty, Jessica Gardner.  She has been driving around setting up and striking each show at every new location.  The show began it’s first showing at the Ann Arundel Community College’s Gade Gallery from January-February before traveling to  exhibit with the National Council on Education of Ceramics Arts (NCECA) conference which were on display at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Homewood, where is was on display in March.  It’s next stop opens on April 3rd at the Foster Art Gallery at Westiminster College, in New Wilmington, PA.  The show goes through August 3rd.  From August-October the show will arrived back in the area at the New Gallery for Contempoary Craft at NOVA’s Woodbridge Campus.  After that the show travels to the DuPont Gallery at the University of Mary Washington, in Fredericksburg, VA from October 25th-December 2nd.  After that it’s off to NOVA’s Manassas campus.  There is bound to be more additions to the list before the exhibit gets to The Canton Museum of Art in Canton Ohio from November of 2019- March 2020.

Jessica is not only the organizer of this grand tour, she is also one of the artists.  Jessica explains her art, “has traditionally been a subtle reflection of the introspective nature and self-assessment that form the pillars of my personality…and then I had children.

Crowns at Ann Arundel Community College  Photo by Bikki Stryker

Suddenly, my tendency toward diplomacy in life and in my art gave way to exhaustion and turmoil. This body of work reflects the simultaneous elation and emotional erosion that coalesced into my experience of motherhood in modernity.”

The other seven artist’s include:

Stephanie DeArmond, who’s work, “explores language, taking slang phrases, colloquialisms, and snippets of over heard conversation and abstracting them into sculptural form, where meanings are revealed and obscured through typography and letter forms.”  Her description is clearly evident in her teapot, shown below.  He adds, “In this way, it memorializes everyday language in a larger-than-life forms, functioning like signage, oversized tchotckes, or the doodles in a notebook.”

Butterfly Teapot by DeArmond Stephanie.

The third artist, Carole Epp, states,  “Since beginning, this body of work,” (originally) from 2005, “…has evolved in different ways, both thematically and visually. The impact of having my own children and working with imagery of children and childhood has propelled the work into a more personal realm wherein issues of motherhood, identity, and child-rearing have become part of the larger discussion of the work. My aim with this work has always been to find a space of dialogue for issues of political and social relevance; to tap into the humanity behind the headlines, to address concerns we face in day to day life, and to create an active desire for change in our world. “

She nurtured both growth and decay by Carol Epp

Janis Mars Wunderlich’s work, “expresses the complexities of intimate relationships in traversing the trials and triumphs of our human experience.  As we grow and mature,” she expounds, “we gain awareness of our sexuality, passions, instincts, and desires to form intimate associations in our transition from childhood into the role of adult and nurturer.  Through this growth our weaknesses, dependencies and vulnerabilities are revealed, and our experiences and relationships transform us as we gain maturity, charity, wisdom, and strength.”

Die mutter by Janis Mars Wunderlich

Kate Fisher thinks of her art as, “as domestic art: it is either for or about the home.  I make work to be used in daily life or to reference utilitarian objects. The kitchen, in particular, is a home’s command central, where we congregate, nourish ourselves, and share our histories and culinary traditions. My mentors instilled in me the importance of creating a domestic environment that enhances personal research and understanding of clay and self. By using, washing, touching, and serving others and myself from handmade objects, I complete the circle of craft. This practice continually informs the work I make and the work I won’t make.”

How Many OZ? by Kate Fisher

Summer Zickefoose, describes her work as addressing, “the middle of nowhere; observed from an interstate. The sticks, the hicks, the mind-numbing boredom. The absence of culture, of progress, of significance. The rural American landscape is often the setting both literally and figuratively for my investigations as an artist. This landscape is representative of its human counterparts and their codes of language, ethics, traditions, and behavioral traits. As with any archaeology, there is the place, its culture, and the objects and

Bone Dust Scraper by Summer Zickefoose

materials used by that culture. I believe that these objects and materials hold within them a multitude of secrets.”

Rhonda Willers ponders experience.  “A poetic power manifests itself in silence.  Strength and subtlety intertwine during our encounters with the contemplative. Using these deafeningly subdued experiences, I explore metaphoric and physical relationships with my ceramic vessels, drawings and mixed media works that allude to sacred rituals.”

Rest by Rhonda Willers

The final artist,  Eva Kwong, says, she searches,  “for the interconnections between things in the world, similarities as well as the differences.  I am interested in the concept of one in many and the many in one.  My hybrid art forms are influenced by my observations of the natural world and what I experience in my life.”

Artwork by Eva Kwong and Janis Mars Wunderlich.  Photo by Sean McCormick
Crowns exhibit. Photo by Sean McCormick

For more information on Crowns, contact Jessica Gardener at

Post by: Britt Conley,  Fine Art Department Studio Assistant