Every day hundreds of people from across the country arrive at the Nashville International Airport and shortly after getting off the plane, among the first things they see in Nashville are the innovative and highly stylized ceramic sculptures by artist Ken Shipley.

That’s because Shipley, an APSU associate professor of art, is among only a handful of artists from across the state to have his work exhibited at the airport as part of the “Flying Solo Series: Winter 2011.”

“Having my work at the Nashville Airport is a big accomplishment and I’ve gotten quite a bit of positive feedback,” Shipley said.

His favorite works from the “Fly Solo” exhibit include “The Great American Teapot,” “Paolo,” “Maya,” “Claude” and “Paloma,” all of which he created in Vallauris, France.

The exhibit is part of Arts at the Airport, is funded by the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority and the Tennessee Arts Commission. Shipley has also held exhibits in France, England and twice in China.

The show at the Nashville International Airport runs until Sunday, March 6.

Earlier this month, local art enthusiasts were treated to an unprecedented art reception with the artists in the normally prohibited viewing space beyond the security checkpoints.

Guests still had to undergo security screening and were not allowed to bring items prohibited by the Transportation Security Administration.

The curator of the airport exhibition has asked Shipley if they could extend his exhibition there until May instead of ending in March. He is very happy about all of the accomplishments he made so far and hopes for more in the future.

Shipley has worked in ceramics for 30 years and began his career as an apprentice to Charles Counts in Rising Fawn, Ga. and Bill Ashley in Chattanooga. Shipley said, “I like the primal idea of using the earth, wind, water and fire.”

Shipley’s work covers many aspects of ceramics, from production pottery to large, one-of-a-kind vessel pieces, both wheel thrown and hand built. He uses high fire reduction, salt/soda, wood fire and electric kilns.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in religious studies and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

He took a lot of art history and saw lots of Japanese pottery and Chinese ceramics. That’s what got him interested in ceramics.

He gets his inspiration from his family and artists such as Picasso and Matisse.

He considers art to be fun, but physically and mentally demanding, he explained.

“Making art is the most demanding work I have ever been involved with and I am so fortunate that I can make my work and teach others how to do it also,” Shipley said.  TAS