Rimas VisGirda. Beveik 8
Keramika, mišri technika, h 36, 2000
Rimas VisGirda. Pokalbis
Keramika, mišri technika, h 33, 1997
Rimas VisGirda. Viltis
Keramika, mišri technika, h 152, 1992
Looking toward the Future, Thinking about
A tour of Russia
in 1988 as an exchange artist with Soviet Artists Union routed Rimas
VisGirda briefly to Vilnius, Lithuania - on the first of many trips
to his homeland he fled with his parents in 1944.
VisGirda spent his formative years on both American coasts, later he
has traveled extensively throughout the United States and abroad as
a lecturer and visiting ceramist. As a traveler he understood his odysseys
were necessary if he wanted to find meaning in his experience as an
artist who only knows his homeland as nostalgia. This first return,
which could only have been another point of departure, would later turn
into a powerful influence on his work.
In 1966, a major in physics, VisGirda started his career as a physicist,
and a partner in a pottery in the Sierra foothills, yet returned soon
to California State University to complete his graduate degree in Ceramics
and Sculpture. Initially, he was heavily influenced by technological
and scientific studies, also by his mentors Ruth Rippon and Robert Arneson.
He borrowed their methods of surface decoration (like white engobe on
stoneware, sgrafitto, etc.), used the lusters and commercial colors.
Shortly, themes of American experiences emerged on the surfaces of VisGirdas
vessel forms; this technique and subject matter would dominate his work
for the next twenty years.
In 1989, VisGirda was invited to attend the First International Ceramics
Symposium in Panevėžys, alongside with three other international
participants and twelve Lithuanians. For five weeks the artists worked
using the clay and kilns of the citys glass factory. The selected
pieces were afterwards exhibited and donated to the citys Civic
The gallerys director Jolanta Lebednykienė, with the help
of VisGirda, eventually developed this event into an annual
Symposium, which in the years of regained independence started hosting
a broad spectrum of international talent.
The industrial kilns at Panevėžys and the amazingly strong
factory clay (called Chamotte, white clay with 4060% grog)
in ample supply provided opportunities and even made it necessary produce
large work. The artist also had to reconcile, on this huge space, the
abundance of cultural iconography: religious and political symbols began
to make way into his pieces in a unique way. Moved by the fact of returning
the bones of exiled Lithuanians to Siberia, he used bones as a symbol
for change. He also manipulated portraits of the Soviet leaders, used
actual medals, incorporated the idea of sculptural busts into his pieces.
After the first return in 1988, Vizgirda has been to Lithuania six times.
He is by self-proclamation an official born-again Lithuanian.
His association with the Panevėžys Symposium helped it to
become a successful international event and promoted exchange of artists
to and from Lithuania.
In October 2000, VisGirda exhibited his most recent work at the Lithuanian
Museum of Art within the Lithuanian World Center in Lemont, Illinois.
The exhibition is a combination of transitional pieces incorporating
new iconography and technique and the next generation of these influences.
The transitional work is more intimate in size and is focused on internal
struggles versus the social heroism of later work. Earlier this year,
VisGirda began a body of works where heroic busts and political irony
have given way to human poignancy. The influence of the heavily grogged
Chamotte is referenced by the use of a feldspar grog, while surface
decoration became secondary to form.
While more personal in nature, these pieces are not memoirs. They are
instead realizations of the power of subtlety and the intimacy of universal
expressions. But they still maintain the ultimate realization of human
condition - in which we all eventually get home.