WMU News

Pottery, copper work by Ed Gray on exhibit

Oct. 7, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- More than two dozen pieces by renowned artist Ed Gray are on display in Western Michigan University's Lee Honors College, and the exhibit will culminate in a talk by the artist on Thursday, Oct. 16.

Gray will present "Tradition, Honor and Respect" beginning at 7:30 p.m. in Room 1120 of Schneider Hall. The talk, part of the University's Centennial Scholar and Artist Series, is free and open to the public. Following the talk, there will be a public reception in the Haworth College of Business Dean's Conference Room. Gray's visit is sponsored by the Lee Honors College and the WMU Centennial Committee.

The honors college exhibit can be viewed through Oct. 16, from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays and Friday. Gray's work includes pit- and smoke-fired pottery as well as copper pieces. His art, he says, is "infused with the sacred elements of life." He signs his work with his native name, Jikiwe, which means "my friend."

"Although my hands gather and shape elements of the earth, it is the primal force of fire that completes my work," Gray told Fine Art Ceramics magazine. "Earth, Air, Fire and Water: the four sacred elements that are the breath of life. These are gifts with which I give honor to the teachings of my ancestors."

Gray's great-grandmother was Norwegian and his great-grandfather, Golden Hawk, was a full-blooded Ojibway who worked with the Miskwabik tribe in both the native copper pits and the European-owned mines in Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula. He has drawn from his great-grandfather's heritage, bucking the expectation that he would take over the Michigan fruit farm that had been in his family for five generations.

Today, Gray owns the Miskwabik/Ed Gray Studio in Fennville, Mich. The gallery is bordered by a natural area known as the Hawk's Nest, where five and one-half acres serve as home to animals, birds, and numerous native medicine plants, herbs, wildflowers and berries. Trails lead through natural dry and wet areas, with two large meadows set aside for camping, story telling, pit firing, drumming and teaching circles. More information about the studio and the Hawk's Nest can be found online at <www.edgraystudio.com>.

The Centennial Scholar and Artist Series has been in the making for more than a year and includes a diverse lineup of lectures, performances and presentations.

Guests for the series are national and international achievers in the arts and culture, business, education, government, health, science and other areas. Several are WMU graduates and others have longstanding ties to Kalamazoo.

The events, which are intended to draw participants from campus and the extended community, are underwritten in part by the WMU Centennial Committee, with additional sponsorship by University Archives and Regional History Collections, the Haenicke Institute of International and Area Studies; WMU's College of Fine Arts, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Education, College of Health and Human Services, Haworth College of Business, Lee Honors College, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the College of Aviation. Other collaborators include the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.

A complete schedule of Centennial Celebration events is posted on University's Web site at <www.wmich.edu/centennial>.

Media contact: Jessica English, 269 387-8400, jessica.english@wmich.edu

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