Get to know Lisa Conklin Conn and her "Nature's Palette" at Elk County Council on the Arts

Get to know Lisa Conklin Conn and her "Nature's Palette" at Elk County Council on the Arts
April 9, 2024 20 view(s)
Get to know Lisa Conklin Conn and her "Nature's Palette" at Elk County Council on the Arts

Nature’s Palette, a very special exhibition of wall blooms from ceramic artist Lisa Conklin Conn, will be exhibited at the Elk County Council on the Arts Gallery in Ridgway from April 15 through May 11. The public is invited to join for an opening reception on Friday, April 26 from 5 until 8 p.m.

Nature’s Palette is a collection of ceramic wall blooms, each representing the colors found in an example of flora or fauna from our region of the Pennsylvania Wilds.

"Together these hand-built pieces flow in an organic line from black (raven) to white (ghost pipe). Lisa invites the viewer to look closer at each organism represented and experience the amazing species that are full of color and beauty from our natural world," says the Elk County Council on the Arts (ECCOTA) website. "The less obvious details and colors are so often overlooked, simply because they are familiar to us. The beauty of nature’s palette in full bloom."

Over 40 wall blooms will be available for purchase during this special exhibition of artist Lisa Conklin Conn’s ceramic work. 

Lisa is a juried artisan of the Wilds Cooperative of Pennsylvania and a PA Wilds branded licensee. Her work can be found throughout the region at various galleries, host sites, and shops... including here on the PA Wilds Marketplace!

Before going to the ECCOTA exhibition, continue reading to get to know Lisa Conklin Conn a little better!

Get to know Lisa Conklin Conn

What inspires your work? 

I tend to have a humorous type of art. I enjoy looking at all the weird things that make up our world. Whether it's the flora and fauna, moss or critters - I like to capture and express it in my art. 

For example, where my husband and I live in McKean County, our yard has low bush blueberries - but they aren't always blue. They come in white and over time they turn violet and then a deep blue. 

There are spectrums you don't see unless you take the time to examine it. It recently inspired me to do a series of wall flowers for an art exhibit at Elk County Council on the Arts (ECCOTA). 

I carefully examine every part of the wildness around us. There are so many colors that go into the beauty that you can find in the PA Wilds. 

When did you become interested in ceramics? 

We had a ceramics class in our high school… thank god we had that class. My junior and senior year I took ceramics. Pretty much every free moment I had - lunch, study hall, etc. - I would be allowed to go into the ceramics class and make weird and wonderful art. I am so grateful to that teacher who let me come into the ceramic room and grow my love of ceramics. I am so glad that my school had that class so I could experience it. 

In high school, my mother and I also used to do the paint your own pottery classes in Bradford. Spending that time with my mom, watching the painting and then watching it transform in the kiln. My favorite part of the process is the painting and glazing.

Photo: The first ceramic owl that Lisa ever made.

My parents are huge supporters of creativity. My aunt lived in North Carolina in an area with huge ceramic artists, and she exposed me to so many ceramic artists when I would visit her. 

I went to the Art Institute in Pittsburgh for a semester but I realized I didn't want a job that required me to be in a city. I wanted to come back to the PA Wilds.

I feel like I am more of a sculptor than a potter. Because I don't know how to define it, I always say I am a clay artist. But no matter what, I always wanted to do art and have art in my life.

Have you always lived in McKean County?

My parents were both born and raised in Bradford. My dad was a high school teacher who taught drafting before CAD was even taught called Mechanical Drawing. 

My mom was a homemaker, postmaster, and eventually worked in insurance. She and my dad worked in Washington DC before they moved back to McKean County when they realized they wanted kids. 

Both of them were wood working for years and, and my family worked alongside my dad on all home projects and products throughout the years. 

My grandma would sew and could look at an afgan pattern and could recreate it without a pattern. 

Photo: Lisa and her brother hanging out while her parents built their house.

What made you go full time with your artwork?

Husband and I moved into our house in 2003. I worked full time and did my ceramics on the side. 

In 2007, I started really messing around with clay again when I bought my first kiln. My mom bought me my first box of clay and sculpting tools. My first items were little critters and a pencil holder for my dad. It was a face from the nose up and had a hat with holes in it for the pencils. He used it in his woodworking shop.

Art should be strange and should make you pause. I like the strange and unusual.

I did this for almost 21 years before I became a full time artist in February 2022. 

It is so amazing to get up in the morning, get some coffee, and get to create all day. People always say if you do what you love you never work a day in your life. I can honestly say this is true. 

Who helps you with your work (kitty cats and doggies!) ?

Lots of kitty cats and dogs in our house:

Oldest is Mudpuddle the cat
Tofutti the kitty cat
Froodrick the youngest cat 
Doof the dog 
Tater the dog
Otherwise known as studio hindrances and who are loved exponentially! I bribe the cats with treats to keep them off the table.

Where can we find your artwork pieces?

You can find my recent art exhibit at ECCOTA as well as some of my ceramic pieces. You can also find my products at the PA Wilds Marketplace, and PA Wild Conservation Shops at Kinzua Bridge State Park, Leonard Harrison State Park and soon Marrienville!

I have a storefront on Etsy as well. You can also find my products in person the PA Made store in Elk County and TriCo Arts Council in Olean, NY. 

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