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Adam Nielsen opens first solo show at art center

Zapoi is a Russian term pertaining to an extended period of inebriation.

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Okoboji native Adam Nielsen opened his first solo show in the Goodenow Gallery at the Pearson Lakes Art Center. Photos by Rylan Howe

Adam Nielsen found it fit perfectly to describe his first collection of ceramics now on display at the Pearson Lakes Art Center in Okoboji.

All of the pieces are drinking vessels of some sort. Long, slender bottles, as well as cups of varying sizes will fill the Goodenow Gallery on the lower level of the art center through Jan. 11.

Nielsen, an Okoboji native, started working with ceramics in high school and continued at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, which he attended specifically to study the art form.

The draw to pottery for Nielsen has been about the processes involved in creating each piece.

“It’s just the creative process and delving further into it, experimenting with the firing process and seeing what you can make the clay do.” Nielsen said. “My firing process is very involved. I’m always adjusting temperatures, chucking wood in there, throwing salt in there and seeing what happens.”

Some of the pieces on display show the fruits of the laborious experimentation process.

Several pieces highlight the result of wood ash being sprinkled on a piece, which was then side fired allowing the ash to melt and drip down.

Some pieces have unique imprints where Nielsen let sea shells lay on various pieces that were also then side fired.

The hard work and expert craftsmanship put into each piece is evident when strolling around the gallery.

Nielsen admitted working through a bit of the butterflies while his putting together his first gallery show, waking up early and pacing the gallery before the reception.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking. I just want people to be able to enjoy looking at the work,” Nielsen said.

And Nielsen said he has big goals for where he wants to take his work from here.

Having already converted an electric kiln to gas and wood, he has plans to build a brick wood-fired kiln and really explore the endless possibilities of his craft.

With the first gallery show under his belt, there will certainly be more to come.