Graduate student experiments with unusual artistic technique


In a dark studio in 213 West Stadium, an artist experiments with various sizes of chemistry-beaker molds, testing combinations of chemicals to create the perfect glaze.

These molds will create Reed Fahnestock’s collection of work.

Fahnestock, graduate student in ceramics, was one of the first ceramic students to attempt molds at K-State.

“Molds are looked down upon in the ceramic world as cheating,” he said. “Nothing could be further from the truth. No one else did it here at K-State because none of the professors were using molds.”

Fahnestock became interested in molds during his undergraduate study at the Kansas City Art Institute.

There is a real art to mold-making, he said, and he enjoyed that process.

“Molds give me a lot of freedom,” Fahnestock said. “The wheel is so limited to creating round shapes. I approach my mold-making more as a collage. It lets me go out and find things that already exist in the world and bring them back and put them together in a surprising and unusual way.”

When Fahnestock arrived at K-State, he said he was surprised when he found K-State’s Department of Art didn’t have a plaster room, a studio solely used for mold-making. Fahnestock and professor Anna Calluori Holcombe created a plaster room, located in the basement of West Stadium.

“The benefit of the plaster room is you don’t have to have the mess in your studio,” Fahnestock said. “For health issues, the room contains the dust. Also, undergrads don’t have space, which they need.”

Yoshiro Ikeda, professor in ceramics, said members of the art department wanted a plaster room but lacked the funds.

“Reed bettered the program because now students can use different tools,” Ikeda said. “Now, more students have a better education.”

Fahnestock received his undergraduate degree in ceramics at the Kansas City Art Institute and spent one year of residency in California.

He has worked on his final collection of work for three years, he said. During his graduate study, Fahnestock taught two classes in ceramics. After graduation, he said he would like to become a teacher.

Jay Nelson, owner of the Strecker-Nelson Art Gallery, said he anticipates the beginning of Fahnestock’s post-graduate career.

“Since I first saw his work, I could hardly wait ’til he would graduate, because I don’t show student work,” Nelson said. “For some students, graduate school is the place to have time and space to make art.”

Because of an award given him by the ceramics faculty, Fahnestock will have the opportunity to show his work at the Strecker-Nelson Art Gallery. His show opens March 16.

“Every artist lives for the opportunity for other people to appreciate their art,” Fahnestock said. “It’s nice to have the recognition of people who are out there professionally, as well as my own faculty, to have their support. I consider it an honor and somewhat prestigious.”

Nelson said Fahnestock’s work is original because he utilizes recognizable images and adds a contemporary twist.

“He is using images that are familiar to all of us – specifically Victorian images,” Nelson said. “Then he puts in a troubling element, such as a snake. All of those things have a resonance that has stayed in our mind when you view Reed’s work.”