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Bluffton University Faculty and Their Students





Gregg Luginbuhl

Rustic Decanter XVII



Phil Sugden

The Weight of Dogma

Oil on canvas


Andreas Baumgartner
 Traces of Entropy VII
 Digital Photograph




In the Ellen Nelson Gallery





































Opening Reception Photos

Courtesy of Phil Sugden
































































The Artists






Gregg Luginbuhl


Rustic Decanters. The ubiquitous metal containers still found in rural environments inspire this series. Originally designed to hold water, kerosene, gasoline, and oil, they now represent a bygone era, since molded plastic containers have largely replaced them.  My porcelain and stoneware forms imitate the down-to-earth, unpretentious beauty of these aged and heavily used containers.  Surfaced by years of exposure and neglect, their slowly acquired patinas of old worn paint and oxidized metal reflect their character. Beautifully marked with accidental dents and hastily painted labels, these old farm dispensers often radiate an aura of strength, hard work, and long selfless lives of service.


My fuel cans are made with porcelain or stoneware clay and fired to cone 10.  They are wheel thrown in sections, altered and textured, assembled, and modeled. Fluting on the sides is done by hand, just after throwing.  I fire them with glazes and metallic oxide stains in a single cone 10 firing to imitate used, worn patinas on the surface of the clay.  The handles of wire and wood are appropriated from actual containers.


This collection includes two Decanters that have received awards in Ohio Designer Craftsmen’s annual “Best Of” exhibitions, and three that traveled to three museum venues in 2010 as part of the Contemporary Ohio Ceramics invitational exhibition.


The Rustic Decanter Series is represented in three Ohio museum collections.

Glass. Included here are kiln-formed glass sculptures, panels, and pendants, representing work completed as part of my BURC Grant project in the summer of 2010.  Through this work I experienced the joy of being an art student, humility in encountering the complexities of expression in a new medium, and recognition of the nuance and intuitive design that are second nature in my expression in ceramics.  I gained a basic understanding of glass as a material, and of warm glass techniques, tools, and equipment.  This experience fueled my teaching of the first glass course offered at Bluffton University last Spring Semester:  ART 380 Kiln-Formed Glass.


Ceramic Vessels.   This work includes thrown and altered jardinières, baking dishes, bowls, vase forms, and a small “army” of bottles.   It celebrates the joy of variety in form and balance, of creating and sometimes enclosing a volume, and of colorful and textural surfaces.  It also recognizes and honors humble materials, directness of approach, and collaboration with fire.




Philip Sugden


Philip Sugden studied in Paris under French painter, Arnaud D'Hauterives (winner Grand Prix de Rome). Since graduation from the New York School of Visual Arts and the Paris American Academie des Beaux Arts in Paris, Sugden has made twelve journeys throughout the Himalaya and Tibet, including the Kingdom of Mustang and Ladakh. In May, 2007, he and writer, Carole Elchert were married by Lama Nawang Tenzin at Tengboche Monastery near Mt. Everest.

In 1990, the two were awarded grants from the Ohio Joint Projects in the Arts and Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities, to create a Public Television presentation and companion book based on their 1988 Cultural Arts Expedition to the Himalaya and Tibet. As guests of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile, they spent six-months in Tibetan communities throughout India, Nepal, Ladakh, and Tibet, gathering images and recordings for the production entitled, White Lotus, An Introduction to Tibetan Culture, (companion book published by Snow Lion 1991). During that trip Sugden completed 165 ink drawings on location some of which were used in the book.

In 1991, Sugden and Elchert organized the Dalai Lama's two-day visit to their home in Findlay, Ohio, with a speaking engagement at The University of Findlay, where both were faculty at the time. While visiting Sugden’s studio, the Dalai Lama accepted one of Philip’s drawings for his private collection.


His drawings have been published in an exquisite, full-color exhibition catalog entitled, Visions from the Fields of Merit; Drawings of Tibet and the Himalayas. The book includes a Forward written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Daniel Entin, Executive Director of the Roerich Museum, NYC.

As the guest curator at the Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York City, Sugden organized a six-month series of exhibitions, opening with a solo show of Tibetan Locks and Keys, silk-screens by Robert Rauschenberg, celebrating the 1991 International Year of Tibet. In the summer of 1998 he was invited to mount a solo exhibition at the Denis Bibro Gallery in New York City, sponsored by Artists for Tibet as part of "Art Against Chinese Human Right Abuses."

Sugden’s work has been exhibited in more than 90 solo and 130 group shows internationally including galleries and museums in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Washington DC, Melbourne, and Kathmandu. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Fine Arts at Bluffton University.




Andreas Baumgartner


Topophilia is the description of how human beings identify themselves with their environments, attitudes, perceptions, and values. I illustrate the fleeting nature of life by capturing the space of a home through photographic documentation, while digital manipulation complements the natural decay of the space, which echoes the overarching entropy embodied in the places.


There is an existential relationship between the home and the human existence that once inhabited it. Home is a place of organized meaning to those who dwell in it, a cocoon that one weaves in order to feel at ease in nature. The orientation and organization of these interior environments become directly related to that of human life through the channels of space and time. An interior space serves as a space of the mind, one which inhabits an imagined, as well as an actual, existence. As we encounter manifestations of a space, it affects our behavior and our understanding of both our environment and ourselves. The spaces in which we live begin to affect us, consume us, and actually help to define who we really are. Home evokes pride of ownership, and ultimately, a link to personal identity.


Through time, transformation occurs reciprocally between the home and its inhabitants; however, the demise of human existence within a home sparks a new continuation for the home itself.


The Second Law of Thermodynamics reveals that everything is in constant degradation and breakdown, also known as the measure of entropy. Entropy is an irreversible system that can be applied to our universe and beyond. The outside world expedites the decay of the home in its own unique way, through the specific arrangements within the interior space. Though some of these time capsules have not been opened in decades, the constancy of entropy becomes evident in photographic captures of time and space.


The exploration of these interior spaces generates a sense of wonder that overwhelms me, where nothing is explained, but all is imagined. Unfamiliar interior spaces all have a definite, yet mostly unknown past, and an indefinite, but mostly predictable future. The testimony of human life becomes apparent by studying the traces of what happened in the history of these spaces, but within time, will be forgotten forever in the succession of existence.