Adelman gets artsy in her first ceramics exhibition

By Chelsee Yee

The Spectator – Seattle University


In a small corner of the Tashiro Kaplan Gallery, people stop to gaze at the colorful tile pieces that cling to the walls.

What they see are hand-drawn, painted images of people fromCalistoga Hot Springs and various spas in Budapest taking time away from the rush of their everyday lives, soaking in the silence

around them.

A little girl reads quietly in the library; a wrinkled woman sits patiently in her chair; an old couple sits calmly at the side of the pool, letting the waters flow between their toes. Time seems to wait on us during these still moments.

“Moments-in-Time” is the first tile show for Mara Adelman, professor of communication at Seattle University.

Adelman’s tile show captures her fascination with people watching, especially those who are indifferent to the gaze

of others.

“We walk through life so self-conscious about the gaze, and I find that children and older people are kind of indifferent to the gaze, so their postures are more natural,” said Adelman.

One of her tile pieces shows a little girl reading quietly at the library in San Pancho, Mexico. According to Adelman, she sat there reading for about four hours, completely oblivious toAdelman taking photos of her, which she would

later sketch.

Adelman says it’s easier to work off of photographs, especially ones that she takes of people who sit by the pool for hours, ignorant of the world

around them.

“I call them the pool people because they just sit for hours. They’re your perfect models. They’re not self-conscious. They just sit there and read or wait or float – I love that.”

According to Adelman, she draws most of her inspiration from impressionists, including female artists like Marie Cassatt, Alice Neel and Helen Frankenthaler.

“I’m in love with the impressionists, especially the women,” she said. “They too work on everyday life. It’s a big thing for many impressionists to capture people in everyday posture.”

“Moments-in-Time” captures the focus on facial expressions, gestures and postures as many of her favorite artists. Though the impressionist influence is evident in her work, she hopes to experiment more with her artistic vision and try new styles.

“I’m experimenting. I’m an artist in progress. I’m a lifelong student and I’m a lifelong artist. I think it’s evolving. I’m always pushing things — adding more color, working with perspective, providing more depth and playing around with positive and negative space.”

Adelman is thrilled to be in the company of the Artisan Tile Northwest & the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) to have this opportunity to share her work with others and to evolve as an experimenting artist.

Her new series will be part of the upcoming NCECA show, which will have its 46th Annual Conference from March 28 to March 31 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

For Adelman, it is an honor to be part of such a huge organization and would like to have more shows to come as a result. As she retires next year, she also hopes to have more time for her art.

“This is what I want to be doing in my retirement years,” she said. “As a communications professor, that’s what you do. You watch people. You observe human behavior. You look for the nonverbal gesture – the moment that is just so expressive. It’s my training in a new direction.”

Chelsee may be reached at