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Recent Acquisitions

The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art recently acquired a work by John Beckelman

Image: John Beckelman, Storage Jar with Lid, Medium, 2008. Stoneware (Residual Salt), 32 x 14 in. Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Viola N. Elsenbast Fund. 2014.067

Born in 1949 in Orange, New Jersey, John Beckelman worked as a Ceramics Apprentice at Thousand Islands Museum Craft School in Clayton, New York and received both his MS and MFA in Ceramics from Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. Before becoming the Robert O. Daniel Professor of Art at Coe College, Beckelman also was an instructor at Illinois State in Normal. He has been the recipient of numerous awards, commissions, and grants.

His Storage Jar with Lid, Medium (2008) is an excellent example of his encrusted clay vessels, meant to evoke a sense of timelessness, stability, and ease. These vessels are thrown on the potter’s wheel, further manipulated off the wheel, and finally fired in a residual salt-vapor reduction atmosphere to about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The rough, coated surface of Storage Jar with Lid, Medium is inspired both by early Neolithic storage vessels and the natural world. Beckelman finds a connection between the seemingly eternal character of ancient vessels and the impermanence of the natural world. The museum’s new acquisition evokes this quiet permanence.

Clay is the central material of Beckelman’s art. He states, “While I often use a number of different materials in my work, clay is the material that most informs the things that I make. Having worked with clay, in a variety of forms and formats and in all its varied physical states for close to thirty years now, I find that the elemental character and expressive potential of clay continues to intrigue me. There seems to be a vital, persistent, almost universal, appeal to clay, which is like no other material. It is the elemental character and expressive potential of clay - in all its varied physical states - which continues to intrigue me."

If you are interested in donating a work of art to the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, please get in touch with Associate Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, Kate Kunau at 319.366.7503 ext. 217 or via email at

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