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Heartland art gallery displays Chicken Foot Gourd Bowls

October 12, 2016

Chicken FootThe Joe McCauley Gallery at Heartland Community College will feature Chicken Foot Gourd Bowls, works by John Cassidy and Danell Dvorak. The show is on display Monday, October 17 through Friday, December 9. An artist reception takes place Thursday, October 27 from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. at the gallery.

Celebrating years of friendship and studio partnership, this exhibit is the first time the chicken foot gourd bowl artworks of Cassidy and Dvorak are shown together. On view are Dvorak’s sculptural ceramic vessels and Cassidy’s drawing and paintings of them.

The title of the exhibit follows the naming of the vessels; they are bowls atop chicken feet and decorative gourd arrangements fit well within them.

Dvorak says footed vessels have been around for centuries and her art expresses a unique playfulness. “Footed vessels are ancient to contemporary art forms and animal-themed feet are common motif. I made chicken feet because I’m rather subversive so my work is not always what people expect. It can be deliberately odd and range from playful and whimsical to freaky and menacing.”

Cassidy and Dvorak met in a painting course at Bradley University in 1985, shared studio space in Bloomington's Cultural District for many years and continue to produce their chicken foot gourd bowl art. Dvorak began making her hand-built bowls in 1995 and Cassidy began using them as still life subjects in 1996. Cassidy's use of these vessels includes early abstract still life objects to recent, flattened, rune-like shapes. Since their origin, Dvorak continues to push and play with the plasticity of clay while using glaze as a painterly medium.

About the Artists

John Cassidy

Cassidy's drawing and paintings have been exhibited at Bromenn Regional Medical Center, cometogetherspace, Main Gallery 404, Phoenix Gallery and Parkland Community College. His local solo shows are Learning Simple Things at the McLean County Arts Center (2012) and Works on Paper, 1996 - 2007 at the Joe McCauley Gallery (2013).

Danell Dvorak

Dvorak is a painter, ceramicist, teaching artist and gallery coordinator for the Joe McCauley Gallery. Her works have been exhibited widely, including nationally juried exhibitions. Dvorak’s local shows include large scale drawings in Magnificent Menagerie at University Galleries, ISU (2011) and tile paintings in The Nature of Things at Jan Brandt Gallery (2014).

As a teaching artist since 2002, Dvorak has led residencies, workshops and mural designs sponsored by Eastern Illinois University, Illinois Arts Council, Illinois Migrant Council and numerous public schools.

In November, Dvorak will co-present Teacher as Artist, Student as Subject at the 68th Annual Illinois Arts Education Association Conference with Bloomington High School art teacher Monica Estabrook and curator Claire Hedden of McLean County Arts Center.

At Heartland, Dvorak has co-curated the gallery's community arts exhibits Walls and Bridges: Art by Women at Logan Correctional Center (2013) and Anybody: Art and Essays about Body Image (2014).

She holds an MS degree in painting from Illinois State University and a BFA from Illinois Wesleyan University.

About the Joe McCauley Gallery

Exhibits, events and parking at Heartland’s Joe McCauley Gallery are free. The gallery is located in room 2507 of the Instructional Commons Building on Heartland’s Normal campus, 1500 W. Raab Road. Hours are weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on days the College is open.

For more information about this exhibit, contact Danell Dvorak, gallery coordinator, at, or call Heartland’s Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Department at 309-268-8620.

Written by: Becky Gropp