From the mind’s eye of Czashka Ross

Ovals, coils, and helixes

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  • Czashka Ross

  • From left, depictions of weather faced by refugees in shrimp boats: "Turbulent Bucking," "Hovering in the Marsh at Dusk," "Wind through the Night," "Over the Seas," and "More Torment ‘til Freedom"

By Marilyn Rosenthal

— Czashka (pronounced Sashka) Ross of Milford has had a solo exhibit at Peters Valley School of Craft since Sept. 15. Titled "The Mind’s Eye,” it's about the ability to form mental images either from memory or the imagination.

Ross's imagination is stunning. She can see a shape or motif, repeat it, and then reinterpret it with various materials and a mastery of process that results in vibrant, moving works of art.

The exhibit includes works in clay monoprint, ceramic, glass, paper, and textiles, and presents a unique experience to view art firmly rooted in the physical realm of process and material. It is unusual for an artist to master so many different media with so much variety.

Maleyne Syracuse, president of the Peters Valley Board of Directors, said in her essay for the exhibition’s catalog that “Ross is a relentless observer of the world around her. She perceives shapes and motifs, in both natural and built environments, with a keen focus; the coil of a garlic scape, the lines of a picket fence, the oval of a rubber band, the helix of a gnarled tree. She holds each object in her mind’s eye, turning it round and round until it is known. She revels in the repetition of forms, in the sequencing of patterns, extracting their essence — the ways they define and delineate space. This unrelenting examination contributes to the rich and expressive visual language that informs her work.”

Ross’s work touches its audience in an almost haunting way.

She often does groups of pieces together. For example, there is a group of five monoprints depicting the 1980 exodus from Mariel, Cuba to Key West, Florida, in shrimp boats jammed with hundreds of refugees. You can actually feel the turbulence of the weather and the rocking of the boats. The five pieces are called, collectively, "1980 Exodus from Cuba — Shrimp Boats," and respectively, "Turbulent Bucking," "Hovering in the Marsh at Dusk," "Wind through the Night," "Over the Seas," and "More Torment ‘til Freedom."

Clay monoprints are made from a flat slab of clay; with colored clay pigments put on top of the slab, the slab becomes a print. Then paper is put on top of the clay and transfers the color from the slab of clay to material of various sorts.

Another outstanding piece in the exhibit is called "Kylix" (an ancient Greek cup with a shallow bowl and a tall stem. This fascinating piece was actually made from black diamond cut slices of a Hendrick’s Gin bottle.

The gentle metamorphoses of ovals, coils, and helixes within and across mediums as exhibited in Ross’s work underscore and define the importance of craftsmanship.

Ross has been both a student and an instructor at Peters Valley for many years. The Gallery at Peters Valley School of Craft is at 19 Kuhn Road in Layton ,N.J. It's open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Czashka Ross’s exhibit will continue through Oct. 28.

For more information visit

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct a photo caption. The Courier regrets the error.

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