WESTPORT — Artist Dan Keegan’s first exhibition of drawings opens Saturday at the Atea Ring Gallery here.
Keegan lives and works in Westport and Milwaukee, Wisc., where he has been the director of the Milwaukee Art Museum since 2008.
His creative pursuits were largely in ceramics until he diverged into drawings a dozen years ago.
“It’s definitely different,” Keegan said. “One of the biggest changes that I realized was the move from tactile to visual. That may be an interesting perspective from a viewer of works of art. From a creator’s point of view, the switch is quite profound from molding and shaping with your hands to working with a pencil, a single tool that is creating a pure, visual experience.”
It was a natural segue between artistic disciplines. Nature is the linchpin.
“I also did a lot of drawing and painting on the surface of my ceramic forms that was drawing in nature,” Keegan said. “It was a natural progression to take what I was wrapping around a piece of pottery and moving it to a flat piece of paper.”
Keegan holds a Master of Fine Arts from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. His work has been exhibited in more than 60 exhibitions nationally. His solo exhibitions include Jayne Gallery, Kansas City, Mo.; Evansville Museum of Art, Evansville, Ind.; and West Virginia Cultural Center Museum, Charleston, W.Va.
Selected group exhibitions include Leedy Voulkos Gallery, Kansas City, Mo.; Craft Alliance Gallery, St. Louis; and Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa.
In his artist statement, he writes:
“I work with nature. My career in ceramics presented many opportunities to sculpt and ‘paint’ from nature into and onto clay. Nature’s complexity and subtlety are exciting challenges for me. My recent drawings represent a distillation of my earlier three-dimensional work and reflect my interest in the Japanese ‘wabi-sabi’ aesthetic: a bit of randomness combined with the recognition of the infinite beauty and forms of nature as well as its fragility. Wabi-sabi affirms that nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.