Ashtonn Means is a ceramic artist, so of course her boyfriend used a handmade mug to propose.
An artist himself, Matt Jones detailed the outside of the mug with memories the two of them share, then gave it to her filled with chai at a coffee shop.
He doesn't like chai, but that day he kept stealing her drink for sips because she was such a slow drinker, Means said. When she finally got to the bottom of the mug, the "Marry me?" written there made it all clear.
It's just one example of how pottery tends to follow you around when you are a ceramic artist. "I love making functional work," said Means, 25, whose art blends practical and practically delicate.
An avid cook and baker, she uses her own ceramics in her kitchen, pieces such as ewers for olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
To her whimsical eye, the knobs on top of her ewers perch like hair over the one-of-a-kind faces of the vessels. If you pose them with their spouts facing, it almost looks like they are talking, she said.
To best see what she means, stop by the reception for "Our Lines Connect" from 7–10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2, at Omnia Contemporary, 639 Main St.
More than 60 pieces created by Means will be part of the show. There will be pieces on floor pedestals and pieces hung on the walls. There will be pieces standing on their own and others placed in groups.
This is Means' first solo exhibition but by far not her first show. Her work has been part of local group exhibitions as well as juried national shows. Two of the pieces for "Our Lines Connect" were recently part of the "Opposites" exhibition at the Attleboro Arts Museum in Attleboro, Massachusetts.
Intricate details are what set her ceramics apart, Means said.
She finds inspiration from henna designs and uses a technique called slip trailing to carefully apply clay to her ceramics in a somewhat similar way to how a cake decorator squeezes lines of frosting across a cake.
The majority of the pieces in "Our Lines Connect" display Means' carefully elegant slip trailing work. Often, people just can't help themselves and must touch it, she said.
"I love seeing that," she said of personal interactions with her art. "It's always fun to see their reactions."
For Means, that urge to touch art and specifically create ceramics became her passion when she was 13 and took a ceramics class at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts (The Art Center).
It was a class for adults and Means' seven classmates were all retired schoolteachers. "Obviously, I was the youngest," she said.
Those classmates became friends as she took more classes at The Art Center, finding there are so methods in ceramics that "there is nothing that stops you from learning," she said.
Since 2015, Means herself has been an instructor at The Art Center, receiving her bachelors degree in fine art from Colorado Mesa University in 2016, the same year she and Jones were married.
She currently teaches ceramic classes for teens and adults at The Art Center, where Jones is now the curator, and she also is the administrative assistant for the art and design department at CMU.
When she's not at those jobs, or in the kitchen baking artisan bread or dancing as member of the High Desert Belly Dancers, something she has done since she was 10 — "I've always been able to do the roll with my belly," she said — she is in her home art studio.
"I'm a night owl," Means said.
Fortunately, her husband is as well, and "we both stay up late doing art," she said.
She has recently spent a little more time in her home studio, preparing for the Omnia show, which will prominently feature the colors turquoise, red or purple, she said.
"I'm excited to get into the space," Means said.
The Daily Sentinel - Out and About
Article By Anne Wright
Photography by Holli Dawn Means and Ashtonn Means
July 31, 2019
Practically Delicate: Ceramicist creates whimsical, functional pieces of art