Master of Fine Arts student uses sculptures to teach and testify of Jesus Christ
Diatoms are tiny organisms found in oceans and waterways that can only be seen when blown up by a microscope — or when an artist creates clay versions to fit in the palm of your hand.
“Diatoms are the biggest oxygen producers in the world, producing 30 percent of our oxygen, or three out of ten breaths you take,” said Master of Fine Arts student Janna Siebert. Siebert showcased her artwork focused on diatoms in a recent exhibit titled “Beauty and Decay,” where she created a sensory experience for viewers.
“Once the exhibition is installed I give the evolution of the work to the audience,” she said. “I don’t normally want people to walk away from my art with anything specific. I see myself as a conduit. I provide an environment where art is curated carefully so the viewer’s experiences can be independent, enriched and unique to them.”
Siebert became interested in using clay after her son took a ceramics class. “The repetition and ongoing investigation keeps me in the studio,” she said. “It has been a beautiful and rewarding journey, one that grants me amazing grace and gratitude.”
Through her experiences making clay art, Siebert has found spiritual connections to her work.
“I have found the lessons from working with clay to be almost parable-like,” said Siebert. “As long as we try our best and reach the potential that we were born to develop, we have fulfilled our purposes.”
Not only is Siebert a student, but she is also a teacher. As a graduate student, Siebert teaches introductory ceramics courses for non-majors. Siebert wants the students she teaches to know that the humble lump of clay in their hands is of “noble birth with amazing potential, just like them.”
“Because no one is exempt from trials and challenges in this life, I tell the students how porcelain, the strongest clay body, would slump a little bit in the kiln as the temperature is nearing the mature temperature,” said Siebert. “I let them know at this stage the porcelain (I compare different clay bodies to us) is screaming for relief, but the potter who knows all things is standing watching outside of the kiln encouraging, ‘just hold on a little longer, I know what you can become’ just as Christ would.”
Siebert is working on new large-scale installation projects and is striving to do her part in helping others feel God’s love through her art. She will finish her MFA in art at the end of this semester in April 2021.