This Ann Arbor Art Fair Artist’s Childhood Memories Come to Life in Clay

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This Ann Arbor Art Fair Artist’s Childhood Memories Come to Life in Clay

Ann Arbor, Michigan — For Ann Arbor artist Monica Rickhoff Wilson, sculpting is about bringing her childhood memories to life.

Her mother, a teacher, often decorates Rickhoff Wilson’s childhood home each season, bringing out holiday decorations and other seasonal items, including artificial fruit.

“I’m just obsessed with these artificial fruits and stuff, I just have this heartfelt memory of where I’d go to pop them and put them in my mouth and they kinda suck your cheeks,” Rickhoff Wilson said .

Rickoff Wilson will be sharing these memories through her artwork during the 2022 Ann Arbor Art Fair in downtown Ann Arbor from Thursday, July 21 to Saturday, July 23. Hours are Thursday and Friday 10am-9pm, Saturday 10am-8pm.

You can find Rickhoff Wilson, The Original at booth WA815 at the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair.

Rickhoff Wilson started her clay journey in elementary school and then explored fashion design in high school. She attended a fashion design school in Chicago, but was told she needed to develop her drawing skills to continue her studies. In a life drawing class, she rediscovered the use of clay.

“And it makes so much sense, it’s so much easier to use it and do something I know,” Rickhoff Wilson said. “So, I’m going back.”

Rickhoff Wilson now works out of a home studio in Ann Arbor, creating sculptures using terracotta, ceramics, stoneware and porcelain. Her work focuses on a sculpture she calls a “cluster,” a circular starburst form inspired by artificial grapes from her childhood home.

A set of green plastic grapes is placed in her workspace as a reference.

“Part of what I’m doing is taking these memories from childhood and these really ephemeral materials and making these impermanent things tangible or more permanent and permanent,” says Rickhoff Wilson.

To make these clusters, Rickhoff Wilson “throws”—a method of forming clay on a potter’s wheel—half of each point, connecting them together to form a rectangular sphere. The globes are then put together to create clusters, which are then fired, glazed and fired again.

Rickhoff Wilson creates sculptures of all sizes, from hand-held sculptures to large-scale sculptures. Large sculptures can take months to complete, she said. Prices range from $150 for small sculptures to $3,000 for larger sculptures.

Although the sculptures are fairly solid, Rickhoff Wilson says she does like the tension that comes with the sophistication of the ceramics.

“I do like something that’s a little erratic, a little subtle,” Rickhoff Wilson said. “If you’re not careful, then it could be gone in a second.”

A smaller version of the large cluster features flocking instead of glaze, inspired by vintage Christmas ornaments. For Rickhoff Wilson, a fragile artwork is covered with something appealing, whose tension echoes the push and pull of ephemeral and functional.

“I’m still trying to get over that. Trying to figure out — what exactly am I holding on to?” Rick Hoff-Wilson said. “I think it’s a connection to my mom.”

This is Wilson’s third and second year at the art fair. Her first year was as a member of the Ann Arbor Potter Guild. Wilson’s work can also be found online, on social media or on the Ann Arbor Potter Society website.

More about the Ann Arbor Art Fair:

Ann Arbor Art Fair will remain a 3-day event in 2022

Ann Arbor Art Fair Town Street Party canceled for third year in a row

Music is returning to the Ann Arbor Art Fair. See who’s playing.

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