Guy Michael Davis and Katie Parker (ceramics ’03) form the collaborative art and design duo Future Retrieval. Their new work, some of which are inspired by the John & Maxine Belger Family Foundation Collection, is on view at Red Star Studios through January 26. The two artists visited Kansas City this week from Cincinnati, where they are full-time faculty in fine art and ceramics for the University of Cincinnati.
The couple met while attending the ceramics’ program at KCAI, long before they began collaborating. Guy Michael was focused on the vessel and Katie had just begun her exploration with decoration. Following undergrad, Katie attended graduate school at Ohio State University. Guy Michael spent time with studio potters in rural Northern California, before meeting up with Katie at OSU..
Ohio State University exposed both artists to 3D scanning and CNC routing technology. The technology relieved Katie from having to individually hand cut the hundreds of flowers that appear in her dimensional wall paper installations. Guy Michael was enabled to render and shift the scale of the small artifacts from his collection of antiques and taxidermy, most of which wouldn’t survive the casting process. Future Retrieval also used CNC technology to create lithophanes, seen on the bottom of the cups featured in the Red Star exhibit.
In 2008, the couple received a Lighton International Artist Exchange Program grant to travel to the Dresden Porcelain Factory along with KCAI alumna and fellow OSU MFA, Meredith Host, and OSU faculty, Steven Thurston. The four artists were invited to use the factory’s historic molds to make new work, thus began their first collaborative group, Non Fiction Design Collective. The outcome was a variety of humorously juxtaposed flora and fauna themed lamps, vessels and sculptures inspired by their time in Germany. The group exhibited their products at design fairs, but they quickly learned they were not interested in meeting the demands for massed produced items and that they were more interest in one of a kind pieces. Katie and Guy Michael continued experimenting with collaboration and found a balance between their common interests and different skill sets. Each object is a dance between Guy Michael’s slick and simple aesthetics complimented by Katie’s desires to embellish.
That is how Future Retrieval evolved. In 2009 the team was awarded artists grants by the Ohio Arts Council and the City of Cincinnati to fund exhibitions at the Prairie Gallery and Country Club Gallery. Future Retrieval was named a 2011 emerging artist by Ceramics Monthly.
This year, Future Retrieval received a Faculty Development Council Individual Award from the University of Cincinnati for a one month residency at the Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China. The Taft Museum of Art proposed that Future Retrieval reinterpret some of the museum’s collection for an exhibition. The couple explained the process of 3D scanning a bust of Alfonso Taft for their exhibition titled Still(ed) Life at the Taft during their artist talk. They are also working with Rookwood to make artist one-offs of the company’s products.
The Belger Arts Center asked the couple to visit their collection for inspiration during the planning for Future Retrieval’s exhibition at Red Star Studios. Guy Michael and Dick Belger discovered they both had an affinity for the architect, Bruce Goff, and that Guy Michael had an iron tile collected from the rubble of a Goff designed home. This tile was casted to form the installation on the west and northern walls of the gallery. Guy Michael and Katie appreciated the Tiffany lamps in the Belger collection and decided to incorporate floral details to several pieces in the show. For Guy Michael and Katie, there is still room in this world for beautiful handmade objects with a touch of 21st century technology.