When he was a child, Jake Steven Fincher found an old potter’s wheel in the basement and starting playing around with it.

When he was a child, Jake Steven Fincher found an old potter’s wheel in the basement and starting playing around with it.
“By the time I was 10, or younger, I started turning things on the wheel,” he said.
Now he’s completing his master’s degree in ceramics at Pittsburg State University, and an exhibit of his work, “Organic Dance,” is on view now through Dec. 15 in the Harry Krug Gallery, Porter Hall.
Fincher is a lifetime Pittsburg area resident, the son of photographer Mark Fincher, owner of Studio One, and Verna Lou Smith. He graduated from Pittsburg High School and earned his undergraduate degree in ceramics from PSU.
“I did go to the University of Kansas for a while, but I just gravitated back here,” he said. “There’s just something about Pittsburg.”
Fincher said that growing up in rural Kansas, fishing, hiking and collecting organic objects has played a major role in his evolution as a person and an artist.
“Personally, my passion for clay is rooted in its organic state,” he said. “When I’m hiking, I’ll see interesting erosion patterns in the ground, or collect things. Some of the vessels I’ve made display a beehive form.”
Other pieces in the exhibit utilize shapes that relate back to sea life, such as whales.
“My mother has a home in Florida, and I’m down there a lot,” Fincher said.
The combination of organic textures and forms as well as utilitarian forms represents the “organic dance” that gives his exhibit its title.
Another interest of his is music.
“I have a musical background,” Fincher said. “I took piano lessons, and I play in a bluegrass band. Now I’m trying to find that visually.”
Many of his pieces do not have titles, but one that does is “Undulation,” a series of 11 bars standing upright.
“It’s based on the 12-bar blues, but there are only 11 pieces,” he explained. “This kind of relates back to an impromptu jam.”
Other influences on his art include veteran area ceramist Jim Reed, who purchased that old potter’s wheel from Fincher’s childhood home, and Malcolm Kucharski, his PSU instructor.
“Malcolm has been a big influence on forms and textures,” Fincher said. “He’s been an integral part of the last few years.”
For the past three semesters he’s been working in the sculpture studio pretty much by himself. It’s been a good space for creating.
“I’ve got to clean all my stuff out of here now, but I’d like to find the same thing somewhere else,” Fincher said.
He added that he also has a raku set-up at his father’s place, and a kiln in his father’s photo studio.
“I have 20 projects going all at once, all in different stages,” he said. “But it all works out because the same problems keep coming up, and I can work on them in all the stages.”
Fincher would like to open his own studio, but also realizes it would be good to get a job. Teaching would be an option for him, and he’s been looking at positions in junior colleges or small private colleges.
“I’ve been a graduate teaching assistant, and really enjoyed it,” Fincher said. “You learn a lot about yourself through teaching.”
For now, he hopes people will enjoy the work in “Organic Dance” and, perhaps, “be inspired to a greater appreciation of the aspects of nature that we pass by every day and don’t really notice.”
“This is what I wish to portray,” Fincher said, “the beauty that surrounds us in this amazingly blissful universe.”
The exhibit will be open free to the public from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday. A reception is planned at 6 p.m.  Dec. 11.
“The band ‘Fresh Grass’ will play at the reception,” Fincher said. “There’ll be good music and good food, so I  hope everybody comes on out.”