Shalya Marsh’s work expresses the intrinsic limitation that language places on communication, through the use of decipherable codes and symbols. These hand built ceramic sculptures reference illuminated manuscripts, ancient cuneiforms, and primitive accounting systems known as tokens. These archaic systems of recording information are juxtaposed with modern codes and ciphers such as binary, substitution, and Morse. The viewer is invited to literally decode the piece’s nonsensical pangrams and whimsical definitions.
By encoding information Marsh’s work shows the inaccessibility of language and communication, creating new systems of signs and symbols that are equally as inadequate as language at conveying meaning.
All of the forms are hand built from red earthenware clay by pinching, coiling, and slab constructing. These methods facilitate the intuitive process and immediacy of creating while in direct contact with the material. The pieces are surfaced using terra sigillata, slips and oxides in order to draw out the details. These techniques, while simple, offer an extensive vocabulary of form, texture, and color.
Shalya Marsh received her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Ceramics from the State University of New York at New Paltz in 1999. During the time between undergraduate school and graduate school, she spent time working in the field of ceramics, exhibiting, teaching in the community, participating in residencies and working in the nonprofit sector. Currently Ms. Marsh is a third year graduate student at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
Her work has been exhibited at the Baltimore Clayworks (Baltimore, MD), the Maryland Institute College of Art Fox Gallery (Baltimore, MD), the Susquehanna Art Museum (Harrisburg, PA), the Gallery at Penn Tech (Williamsport, PA), the Lancaster Museum of Art (Lancaster, PA), Rose Lehrman Art Gallery (Harrisburg, PA), the Rouse Company Foundation Gallery (Columbia, MD), Moore College of Art (Philadelphia, PA), the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts (Wilmington, DE), the San Angelo Museum of Art (San Angelo, TX), the Phillips Museum of Art at Franklin & Marshall College (Lancaster, PA), and the Center for Emerging Visual Artists (Philadelphia, PA).
In addition to a rich exhibition record, Marsh has augmented her studio practice through participation in workshops and residencies, including the Young Artist in Residence at Millersville University, a Kiln God Residency at Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, and the Lormina Salter Fellowship at the Baltimore Clayworks.
Marsh has been teaching in the community since 2001, developing curriculum and implementing hands-on arts programs for the Print Center, the Center for Emerging Visual Artists, and the Lancaster Creative Factory. For four years, Marsh volunteered as the coordinator for the Lancaster Museum of Art’s outreach program, developing exhibit-specific programming for underserved communities. Her work experience includes six years running a small nonprofit arts organization (The Space) that sponsored a citywide exhibition of installations in vacant storefront windows throughout Lancaster, PA.