Oak Grove mixed-media sculptor Kevin Eldstrom, 29, is displaying work using a new technique that combines ceramics with molten aluminum, through Saturday, Sept. 28, at the Rumriver Art Center in Anoka.
Eldstrom’s interest in ceramics started in 2011 while he was studying business at Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids.
“I had an interest in art when I was in high school but I never learned how to make pottery or sculptures,” Eldstrom said. “When I knew I would have to take an art class at Anoka-Ramsey, I thought that ceramics would be a lot of fun to learn. I ended up taking it, and I loved it. It was history from there.”
Eldstrom took his love of ceramics and tutored other students at Anoka-Ramsey while a student there. Eldstrom graduated last December from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
Eldstrom now teaches ceramics classes at the Rumriver Art Center and the Paramount Center for the Arts, where he works as a ceramic studio technician.
In 2015 Eldstrom became inspired by a Japanese art style, Kintsugi. that mends broken pottery using gold and other metals. Inspired by the process he began experimenting using different metals with ceramics.
His first show, “Amalgamate,” was in May 2015 at the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts in Fridley. That work examined how metals interact with ceramics and imitated the style of Kintsugi.
In 2018 Eldstrom began experimenting with molten aluminum and ceramics to create a whole new art process.
“There is nothing out there like this,” he said.
To create his art, Eldstrom melts and pours liquid aluminum onto reused ceramic pieces. The intensity of the heat causes the ceramic vessel to shatter, and at the same time the cracks fill with aluminum that cools and solidifies.
“During that moment when I’m pouring the liquid aluminum onto that ceramic vessel, I remove myself from the art process and allow the metal to interact with the ceramic on its own to create the final art piece,” Eldstrom said. “What’s important to me with these pieces is seeing how the ceramic vessels transform. I’m driven by curiosity on what the each final product will look like.”
Eldstrom said everything he uses in his art process comes from items he find and recycles, from the ceramics he uses to the wood he places in his wood-burning kiln.
“The art in the process comes from what I’m using to make the final product,” Eldstrom said. “I utilize wood that was once used for something else, like a door or siding, and I use that as a fuel to melt the aluminum that was also once used as something else, like a pop can or a small engine. The other piece that goes into the art is the ceramics I use, which were also used in a different context. Every single thing I find that goes into my art was once used and interacted with in another way. By taking those items and giving them a second purpose I create a whole new piece that people can interact with in a new way.”
Eldstrom’s latest show “Rusty Fork” is on display through Saturday, Sept. 28, at the Rumriver Art Center, 2665 Fourth Ave., Anoka, suite 103A. Over a dozen of his ceramic-aluminum art pieces are on display and for sale at the center.
Eldstrom said the show is titled “Rusty Fork” to pay homage to his use of reusing materials in his process. He received a $2,000 Jerome Foundation grant to fund the show from VSA Minnesota for being an up-and-coming artist with a disability. Eldstrom has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Eldstrom said he hopes each person who views his work develops his or her own interpretation of what each piece is conveying. “I’m interested in seeing how the story changes in each piece from the viewer’s perspective,” he said.
Eldstrom will host meet-and-greets from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 7, 10, 14, 17, 21, 24 and 28 at the Rumriver Art Center.
To learn more about the Rumriver Art Center visit rumriverart.com or call 763-323-8830.