Erin Rigney’s "Riding it Out", "Tiny Barnacle" and "Aurora Nights" on display at the Carbondale Clay Center. Courtesy photo

The Carbondale Clay Center opened its current exhibition, “The Way We Are: Women of The Roaring Fork Valley”, on Jan. 16 and it will remain on display until Feb. 24 with a First Friday reception on Feb. 3 from 6pm to 8pm. As the name implies, the exhibition features diverse works from local women.

Materials featured include ceramics, oil paintings, textiles, weaving and much more. The artists are Tammi Lane, Mary Ballou, Liz Heller, Lori Dresner, Ishara Sweeney, Cate Tallmadge, Agneta Wettergren, Erin Rigney, K Rhynus Cesark, Hannah Stoll, Eden Marsh, Summers Moore and Kathy Honea.

Wettergren and Rigney sat down with The Sopris Sun to discuss their work on display and the inspirations behind each piece.

Wettergren is a self-taught experimental artist who is originally from Sweden. She has a bachelor’s of visual arts from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, and a diverse background in engineering and ergonomics, as well as a license in massage therapy.

She said that she feels a “very deep connection” to the theme of the exhibit and stories of female artists throughout history. She cited her bio on the Clay Center’s webpage for the exhibition and delved deeper into the reasons behind her work.

“The craft, my ability to work with my hands, is the power of creativity which opens all possibilities … along with a full range of critical problem solving and knowledge of different materials’ sustainability. When you see my weaving, which comes from a traditional little wood loom, in 100 years it’s those kinds of materials: wool, silks and natural materials. It will sustain people who will see the materials that were used then. They will see your technique. So it will transcend,” Wettergren said.

Wettergren also credited her background in ergonomics as an inspiration for her work, specifically the “simple” architecture of her home country, Sweden. She credited artists like Matisse for inspiring the composition of her mixed media work, specifically the color palette that she uses.

“My whole composition, thesis and background for my colors comes from living in a country where you have a couple of hours of sun every few days for several months. Color is very important, at least it was for me when I was growing up,” she said.

Erin Rigney, originally from New Jersey and a resident of Colorado for over 30 years, shared gratitude and excitement for the exhibition. She is showcasing three pieces from her “Shellscapes” collection, a series of original artwork which Rigney usually presents in shows on the coast, inspired by the abstract patterns inside seashells.

“It was a total honor being included in this community of women. I’m honored to be asked, given I haven’t been a full-time artist for that long. It shows that there’s so much creativity here in our valley, and such very creative creativity,” said Rigney.

Rigney uses encaustic paint, made from beeswax and fir tree sap colorized with oil paint, which she described as “fun” and said it keeps her in touch with her background in sculpting. Her hope for the First Friday celebration, along with the end goal for her art, is to have those who see her work to “slow down.”

“The idea of the ‘Shellscapes’ is something I used to geek out about when I was little. Everybody [around me] would be looking at these beautiful, perfect shells, but I would be picking up the broken bits because I liked the color that was going on inside. Hopefully, it’s a breath of fresh air for people seeing the exhibition,” she said.

For more information, drop by the Carbondale Clay Center or check out their website: