Opening reception for Doug Herren Ceramics, 6 p.m. Friday, April 20 at the Filley.

Doug Herren grew up in Pratt, influenced by art teachers at Liberty Middle School, Pratt High and Pratt Community College. This weekend, the accomplished ceramics master from Philadelphia is back in town, sharing his creative talents at the Vernon Filley Art Museum as it kicks off a new exhibit that combines technology and art appreciation with hands-on experiences.
"We are very excited about this show," said museum co-director Brittany Novotny. "Doug is a very prestigious and cutting edge artist with galleries in Philadelphia and Santa Fe, New Mexico. His work in ceramics and wood lends itself well to the new student tour components that we are creating."
Visitors to the museum will be able to use iPads purchased with the support of a $10,000 grant the museum received from the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission. Additional sponsorship for the new exhibit comes from local contributors Pratt Regional Medical Center and Sue Peachey Insurance.
The iPads are QR coded to display videos about the construction of each item in the Doug Herren collection, and also offer the history behind clay works and instructions on how to create items at work tables right there in the museum.
"It will take about an hour for people to go through the ceramics exhibit, with a stop at the clay table where each participant gets a ball of clay and creative guidelines," Novotny said. "I really think hands-on is the way to go. It makes museums so much more interactive."
Herren, whom Novotny called one of the most organized artists ever, was able to supply the museum with pictures of each stage of creation for each exhibit. Novotny was able to take these photos and combine them into instructional QR-coded videos. Cell phones with the proper apps can also be used in  conjunction with the exhibit.
On Wednesday, Herren and his Pratt-based family, parents Al and Marilyn Herron and brother Dayne Herren, were busy unpacking sculpture parts and piecing them back together from shipping state.
"We always knew he was very artistic," said his mother Marilyn. "We knew it would go somewhere, we just didn't know where."
Herren and his wife, Kukuli Velarde (who is also a full-time painting artist), live  and own their own bi-level art gallery in Philadelphia called The Clay Studio. In addition to creating innovation ceramic and wood stands, tables, vessels and ewers, Herren is an adjunct ceramics professor at Moore College, and an art department studio tech at Swathmore College.
An opening reception for the public is scheduled for 6 p.m., Friday, April 20 at the Filley museum. The interactive ceramics exhibit runs from April 21 to July 21.