By Natasha Anderson
The North Carolina Arboretum welcomes Asheville-area ceramic artists Crystal Allen and Trish Salmon to its Education Center art gallery for their new exhibit, Earth Skin, on display daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through July 22. Their work is based upon the forms and textures of the earth using inspiration from aerial photography of WNC and topographical maps of local areas, including Pisgah National Forest and Balsam Range.
“The geography, flora and fauna of this area was our inspiration for the pieces,” says Allen. “The southern Appalachians offer it all—from rock outcroppings and balds to layer upon layer of mountains to the smallest lichen, glint of mica or delicate veining on a leaf.”
Before discovering ceramics, Allen earned a degree in Graphic Art and Design. She has also taught calligraphy, dabbled in watercolors and learned how to felt, dye and spin natural fibers from her own llamas and sheep. Most recently, Allen completed the Professional Crafts: Clay Associates degree at Haywood Community College. In the Earth Skin exhibit, she displays both functional pieces and sculptural wall pieces, all focused on items found in nature.
“Up until a couple of years ago, my work was primarily functional production pottery,” says Allen. “Trish challenged me early on to consider working in a more sculptural way. The learning curve was quite steep for me, but my growth, personally and professionally, was worth the time and angst.”
Salmon, a former kitchen designer, has studied clay for many years. She began pursuing claywork full-time after she and her husband moved from the Atlanta area to WNC in 2007. She has studied at Penland School of Crafts and Haywood Community College’s Professional Crafts Program, where she met Allen. Salmon is a member of the Odyssey Co-op Gallery in the River Arts District and a founding member of Artisans on Main in downtown Weaverville where her studio is located and her work is primarily displayed.
“Clay is the most natural of materials to make pieces as a tribute to the beauty and variety of nature,” says Salmon. “I hope the viewers appreciate our interpretation and the joy we had making the work for this exhibit.”
All pieces are available for purchase and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to The North Carolina Arboretum Society.
The North Carolina Arboretum is located at 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., April through October, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., November through March. Admission is free. A standard $14 per vehicle parking fee is required for non-members. For more information, visit ncarboretum.org.