When he graduates from Tennessee Tech University in December, not only will he have a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, he will have won the “Academy Award” of the craft world. Of applicants from across the United States and Canada, Meketon was awarded the NICHE award in the glass student functional category this spring.
“I was surprised I won the award. Everyone else in the category had a lot of color and everything was really well crafted and mine were just jet black,” said Meketon, a senior at TTU’s Appalachian Center of Craft. “A lot of people say the NICHE awards are like the Academy Awards of art. You don’t win a lot of money, but everybody in the craft world is on that website, looking at who’s on there. It’s just getting my name out there, especially in the glass world.”
Meketon’s vases were inspired by ancient Chinese ceramics. His forms have a low bowl, thin stem and a flat ledge that curves out at the opening, rather than the more standard fluted glass shapes.
“Lots of the forms you see in glass are based off of what the Venetians did, so I wanted to separate myself,” the graduate of Philadelphia’s Crefeld School said. “I dove into studying the Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese ceramics. They are just more dynamic than your straight walled or flared objects.”
Despite his interest in ceramic shapes, Meketon has little experience with clay beyond throwing a few bowls on the pottery wheel. He has worked in the wood and fibers studios at the Craft Center, but he says he prefers getting burned to getting wet.
Meketon was introduced to glass blowing during his junior year of high school, and his teachers recommended that he come to the Craft Center to complete its two-year certificate program. He is the third Crefeld graduate to come to the Craft Center.
After his first semester at Tennessee Tech, Meketon transferred to the four-year glass program. He will graduate in December, after staging his solo thesis exhibition in one of TTU’s art galleries.
After graduation, he says he plans to apply to graduate schools and residency programs. Eventually, he says he hopes to open a studio and winery or restaurant in Long Beach Island, N.J.
For now, he is expanding his body of work to have a show and a half ready to exhibit. He travels regularly around to six galleries that represent him, shuffling work around and checking to see how his art is selling. In addition to his work in the gallery at the Craft Center in Smithville, Tenn., his work is in galleries in his native Philadelphia; Asheville, N.C.; and Toledo, Ohio.
His NICHE winners will be on display this month in a student exhibition in the Derryberry Art Gallery, in Tennessee Tech’s Roaden University Center on the main campus. The gallery, at 1000 N. Dixie Ave., is open to the public and admission is free.
Other finalists for NICHE awards this year were Craft Center faculty Kim Winkle: wood, fibers alumnus Billy George; and jewelry artist Sadie Wang.