Mike GesiakowskiSt. Louis, Missouri

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Mike’s work is influenced by the architectural facades and designs of the late 19th and early 20th century, works that surrounded him growing up in his hometown of Chicago. He received his BFA in Design from Northern Illinois University, and his MFA in Ceramics from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He has apprenticed for Simon Levin and was a Wingate Scholar as a short-term resident at The Archie Bray Foundation. Mike lives and teaches in St. Louis where he is the ceramics instructor and the fine arts department chair at John Burroughs School.

In my work I investigate the process of physical and cognitive degradation by using the construct of architecture and its decorative elements. I draw inspiration from deteriorated and weatherworn buildings and their ornamentation: aged stone and terra cotta facades, hazy stained glass, fractured adornment, and other architectural components that have been left to the elements. My aim is to capture the unperceived intricacy of this ongoing process of decline.

The work presents narratives of impermanence and by creating a connection with man-made structures I’m looking to reveal the correlations between architecture and the human experience, that being the slow erosion of both over long periods of time. The breakdown of forms and surfaces are metaphors for our own existence. The bright, enlivened surfaces offer a contradiction to this state of decay, as memories are altered and embellished through imprecise remembrance. The two-dimensional imagery in the work is a flattened representation of the three-dimensional ornament found within architecture of the last century and beyond. This diminished dimensionality conveys the transformative aspects of our experiences from real world existence to the stored information in our minds.

The engagement between the deteriorated forms and the obscured surfaces suggests a temporal and spatial connection to our own brief and chronicled existence.