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University of Missouri

Punk Rock Potter

MU ceramics student accepted to national exhibition.

ginnifer o'keefe

Ginnifer O’Keefe, who recently had artwork accepted into a national exhibition, pinches and punches clay to form a basket. Photo by Nicholas Benner.

In fall 2012, Ginnifer O’Keefe and husband Chad moved to Columbia from Branson, Missouri, to pursue master of fine arts degrees in ceramics. The first pieces O’Keefe fired in the art department kiln were refined and polished. Classmates commented on their beauty.

“And it was really making me mad,” she says. That was her spouse’s aesthetic, not hers. It wasn’t until Professor Bede Clark pushed O’Keefe to explore who she was as an artist that she began sculpting pieces like the one accepted into the 2014 National Student Juried Exhibition, sponsored by the National Council for Education in the Ceramic Arts. The piece — five roughly crafted ladles and a lumpy strainer situated in a crudely fashioned stand — was one of 59 objects selected from 385 submissions for the exhibition.

“My work is based on the philosophy of punk rock, which is this immediate energy and this questioning of ‘Why not,’ so I try to visually represent that,” says O’Keefe, who often blasts Patti Smith’s music when she’s in the studio. “A lot of the objects I make reference back to the kitchen, like baskets and rolling pins. It goes back to me questioning my placement in the domestic realm.”