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Ani Kasten, a ceramic artist based in Shafer, Minn., uses clay and items such as sticks, rocks and wire to create nature-inspired pieces. (Submitted photo)

Naturally-dyed batik textiles, sculptural ceramics and photography are all coming together at the newest art exhibit at ArtReach St. Croix, which kicks off with an opening reception on Sunday, Jan. 12 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Titled “Natural Occurrences,” the exhibit will feature the work of three local artists who each use different media to tell a similar story about the push and pull of organic processes.

Objects found in nature such as plant life, water, rocks and landscapes provide the inspiration, as well as source material, for each artist. Ani Kasten, a ceramic artist based in Shafer, Minn., uses clay and items such as sticks, rocks and wire to create pieces that she said are sometimes rough and deconstructed looking, but are meant to reflect decay and degradation found in nature.

Kasten has been working with ceramics for the past 20 years, and her art has taken her to places across the world. She had an art apprenticeship in the United Kingdom just before heading to Nepal for five years to work with a community of potters.

“A lot of my work back then was based around travel and working with communities of clay artists in different countries,” Kasten said.

After her experiences in Nepal, Kasten worked out of her own studio in Washington, D.C. for 10 years. She later moved to the area due to her role as one of eight hosts for the St. Croix Valley Pottery Tour, an annual event that draws thousands of people around the world each year for its high quality functional pottery and array of distinctive sculptural expression. The 28th annual Pottery Tour takes place this spring.

The work of Hugo-based photographer Lars Samuelsson will also be on display at the exhibit. Also observing natural forms and spaces, Samuelsson’s photos in this exhibit are black and white explorations of tree roots. Prior to Hugo, Samuelsson lived in Rochester, NY, where he received his MFA in photography from the visual studies workshop at the State University of New York in Brockport.

The batik art of Emily Donovan, based in Minneapolis, is also featured at the new exhibit. Her work, which relies on wax and handmade dyes from foraged materials, is influenced by the state’s North Woods and the cycle of the seasons. Donovan studied art history and visual art at the University of Minnesota with an emphasis in printmaking and painting.

ArtReach’s executive director Heather Rutledge said that these three artists were selected for this exhibit about one year ago, and were partly chosen due to the ways in which the art compliments each other through color choices, lines and textures.

“It’s really fun to put these pieces physically in the same room for the first time,” Rutledge said. “We’re always delighted in how each artist’s work plays off of each other.”

The first chance to see the artwork on display, as well as visit with the artists, will be at ArtReach’s opening party this Sunday.

Contact Kevin Ott at kevin.ott@ecm-inc.com

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