Dylan Beck’s ceramic work explores “the interaction of built space with the natural environment and the idea that manmade landscapes express a society’s material and political priorities.” His knowledge of urban sprawl, sustainability, and forestry informs his artistic exploration of built and natural landscapes as he addresses themes of human’s manipulation of the natural world. He says there is no one prescription for the social and political responsibilities of artists.
Dylan teaches at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas where he was awarded a Sustainable Concept Grant for the ceramics department. For the grant, he worked with Steve Bellz, a graduate student, to build sustainable kilns. They collaborated with engineers to develop a new recuperative air system (warmed air that combusts more efficiently), installed oxygen probes for more controlled firings and used recycled bricks. Dylan teaches and leads by example while he works and lives as sustainably as possible. He uses recycled materials in his work including, scrap wood, packing materials, and he fires at low temperatures, once firing most everything.
When asking Dylan how he judges “success” he described his method of taking an abstract concept and making a physical object that is at once critical of an issue but also beautiful. For example, an aerial photographs of the BP oil spill- it is aesthetically beautiful but harmful and toxic. One can lure the viewer closer through beauty, but then reveal a strong concept behind the work.
Dylan credits his past teachers and mentors who have influenced his teaching style and philosophies as an artist and thinker. Among them are Brad Schweiger, Paul Sacarides, Tyler Lotz, Nicholas Kripal, and those who contributed to his experience at Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts.
Check out what Dylan is reading: