Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Made in St. Louis: Ceramic Artist Takes His Work in Another Direction

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Made in St. Louis: Ceramic Artist Takes His Work in Another Direction

Article excerpt

Ceramic artist Anthony "Tony" Borchardt's approach to teaching and mentoring his students at Fontbonne University pays dividends to him as an artist every day he's on the job.

He's a Fontbonne University alum who spent seven years there earning his bachelor's and master's degrees in fine arts.

He brings a wealth of real-world experience to the classroom. He's worked as a production potter in Branson, Mo. His ceramic pieces toured the country with him as he traveled to juried art shows. He also taught part time as an instructor at community colleges. He created his life as an artist one step at a time. Today, he teaches as an assistant professor and also works as the gallery director at Fontbonne. "I can explore more with my art because of my teaching," he says.

Students can also be teachers - "The pieces I'm working on now stemmed from a Steampunk design project I gave my students," he says.

Steampunk style embodies the spirit of the Industrial Revolution. Pieces employ anachronistic, sometimes fantastical machine parts, gears and constructions that seem almost magical. For Borchardt, his students' art triggered memories of times past.

The wisdom of old men and the wealth of their garages - "My newest pieces are informed by my experiences as an artist growing up. Both grandfathers were handy at making things," he says. His imaginative sculptures of iconic gas cans, funnels, oilcans and industrial containers recall the garages and workshops packed with tools and useful objects and working with his grandfathers to create things.

"My mother's father, John Wheelehan, was a firefighter. One of my most prized possessions is his fire helmet. It's been through so much," he says. "My father's dad, Marvin Borchardt, was an ironworker who built things his entire life."

His newest pieces, which are ceramic, also include small bits of metal, barnwood and leather, things he had seen in the garages of his youth. …

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