Arts Writing Artist Features

Ryan Labar

Ryan Labar. 2014 Individual Artist Fellow, Oregon Arts Commission.

Photo: Sabina Poole

Originally published January, 2014

Ryan LaBar makes large scale ceramic assemblages often comprised of slumped tangles of ribbons, discs,and other forms that are sometimes solid, sometimes perforated in a lace-like manner. LaBar’s process includes a collaboration with the kiln in which the artist sets up his pieces to “unfold,” as he puts it, with the melting of clay and glaze. “The more I do it,” he says, “the more predictable it becomes; however, there is always a mystery that reveals itself after the firing’s completion. Most artists who work with clay ignore the kiln as an active participant, and I am embracing that partnership.”

LaBar works at LH Project in Joseph, OR, a unique, invitation-only artist residency in the foothills of Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains. Though its location is remote, LH Project offered LaBar-as resident artist and later employee-unique opportunities for professional growth that extend internationally.
LH Project was founded by noted ceramic artist Chris Anteman and her husband Jacob Hasslacher. LaBar met Anteman in Helena, MT during the time she was a resident artist at the Archie Bray Foundation. Anteman founded LH Project shortly after meeting LaBar and invited him as one of the Project’s first full-time residents. At LH, LaBar, who was a functional potter at the time, worked on his portfolio for graduate school applications. He returned to LH while in graduate school in the summer of 2009. And when he graduated, he was offered the position of program director.

LaBar maintains an active international residency schedule having spent time at Tolne Gjaestgivergaard, , Denmark; at Porcelana Inaczej in Walbrzych, Poland; at Gaya Ceramic Art Center, Ubud, Bali; and at Da Wang Culture Highland, Shenzhen, China, run by another LH artist, Ryan Mitchell. Most of these opportunities have come about through contacts with artists who have been residents at LH Project. LaBar says, “My residency experiences, combined with my position here, are beginning to create an international exchange between artists and programs.” In particular, LaBar hopes to connect LH with the Gaya Ceramics residency program in Bali.

In addition to solo exhibitions associated with his international residencies, LaBar has had work in the NCECA Biennial at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, two Annual Clay Invitationals in Coeur d’Alene, ID, and the Northwest Ceramic Invitational at Kolva Sullivan Gallery in Spokane, WA.

LaBar holds an MFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has a BS in Biology with Art and Chemistry minors from Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA and did a Post Baccalaureate at New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in New York. He is currently the Artist Representative for LH Project.

LaBar’s work is in the permanent collections of the Washington State Arts Commission at Peninsula College in Port Angeles and the Long Beach Museum of Art in California.
LaBar is looking forward to his most significant exhibition to date, FLOW, 2014 NCECA Ceramic Arts Invitational at the Milwaukee Art Museum. NCECA, the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, is the field’s leading organization. He is currently packing up an 8 x 10′ wall piece for that show.

Courtesy of The Oregon Arts Commission.

Artist Credit: Ryan Labar

Exhibition: Oregon Arts Commission Fellows

Project Website

Oregon Arts Commission