HESSTON — Art professor Hanna Eastin is putting her life journey on display at Hesston College. A portion of the ceramic objects Eastin created for her Master of Fine Art degree from Fort Hays State University are being shown in the exhibit titled "enduring witness."
"Everything that is in here has not been shown on campus before," Eastin said.
Viewers of the exhibit can see moments in Eastin's life represented in platters, mugs and sculptures.
"I feel that telling stories and sharing experiences is one of those things that can bring people together better," Eastin said. "If we all sat down and talked through the things we experienced but remembered differently, if we actually did that, how much closer would we all be?"
Scrolls placed in black ceramic buckets carry drawings of moments that had an impact on Eastin — from moving to Kansas, living in an RV for 18 months, meeting her niece, totaling her car and beginning to teach.
"Each set of scrolls inside are related to my bucket list," Eastin said.
The inspiration for the scrolls was born out of a fascination with zine publishing and her experience traveling to China.
"We wound back through these little stone alleys, between these buildings, and wound up in a scroll painter's workshop," Eastin recalled.
That memory led her to put her images in scroll form, rather than a traditional book. Having a picture tell the story, rather than words, is also intriguing for Eastin, who has an affinity for memoirs told through the format of graphic novels.
"These people are using drawings that encompass paragraphs of writing into one drawing, which is fascinating," Eastin said. "They are single drawings that convey so much."
Visitors can take home miniature versions of the images, made into rolled-up strips. Printed summaries of the stories surrounding each picture are available to read when Eastin is not present in the gallery.
A series of ceramic platters show Eastin's path into — and struggles with — teaching at Hesston College.
"(They're) made out of this really terrible clay, full of sand and rocks and whatever I can dump in," Eastin said. "It's a metaphor for life — because the clay itself works, it's a recipe I know, it's predictable, but then you throw all this other stuff in."
Memory jars — deep blue stoneware urns whose lids are secured with brown leather straps — were made by Eastin to remember those who have passed from life.
"That's what I want these to be," Eastin said. "I'm going to die...but I want these things to remain and be something that helps people have a place to be and put things."
Some of the ceramic pieces are set on wooden tables made from red maple and chestnut oak trees harvested from Eastin's parent's farm.
"The carriers for the stories are built out of trees that my sister and I probably were around when we were little," Eastin said. "My dad and I started milling the logs together early last summer."
After transporting the planks to Newton, Eastin and her parents spent two weeks drawing, planning, planing, assembling and varnishing the furniture.
"It was an amazing two weeks to get to spend with them, working things together," Eastin said.
Eastin's "enduring witness" is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays or by appointment in the Friesen Center on the campus of Hesston College, 301 S. Main St. in Hesston. A closing reception will be held from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. March 2. For more information, call 620-327-8309 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.