Not much in Rudy Medlock’s life is empty.
Pottery, framed art and old books line the walls and shelves not just of his own home but of his bed and breakfast, his studio and the adjoining house he moved log by log from Owingsville to Wilmore.
But that physical fullness is nothing compared to the spiritual fullness that led to the creation of Medlock’s pottery exhibit, “Overflowing Vessels,” that is on display in Asbury University’s Kinlaw Library through Sept. 12. Some of the pieces are available to purchase for a $100 donation to a scholarship fund that bears Medlock’s name, and the Jessamine County Public Library has also had some of the exhibit on display.
Medlock, 69, retired in 2009 after teaching art for 38 years at Asbury College. The focus on vessels that are full beyond their capacity is the latest message God has given him to work into his craft.
It was nearly two decades ago at an artists’ retreat in Georgia that Medlock felt he needed to use his talent to turn attention toward the empty tomb — the resurrection part of Jesus’ story that can be lost in tales that lead up to the crucifixion like the 1970s film “Jesus Christ Superstar” based on the Broadway musical.
“When you walked out of the theater in that movie, everybody’s walking out, the music is blaring, you look around, and he’s hanging there dead,” Medlock said. “And that’s kind of the end of the story for a lot of people. I felt like what God was telling me is to talk about the empty tomb, the fact that He’s no longer dead but alive.”
Medlock spent 15 years meditating on the empty tomb in his work — and he is still drawn to it on occasion — but it was a few years ago that the focus shifted, with a central message from Jeremiah 18 of God as the potter.
“It became clear that I need to try to communicate how filled I am to the point of more than I can take until finally we’re no longer on earth and then this vessel disintegrates and is destroyed,” Medlock said. “But then it becomes totally new, and at that point, we can’t get even get how filled we will be, so I’m trying to describe that in a way that maybe people will get when they see the clay pieces and spend a little time with them.”
Spending time in creation has provided plenty of inspiration for Medlock, who often goes out into the countryside just to take in the scenery.
“I love drinking in, receiving, being filled, often by God because it’s another tree, another flower,” he said.
Many of the Overflowing Vessels pieces have lines or beads down the sides to indicate their fullness.
Medlock said his work is still changing each day and he is curious to see where God directs him next.
“The overflowing vessel is now changing from scratches to scratches with holes to beads — it’s changing all the time, so now I’m thinking, ‘Hey, what else are we going to do?’” he said. “And that will be revealed to me; it will be clear.”
Despite retirement, Medlock said he feels busier than ever. He is still working on an empty-tomb marble sculpture at Asbury when he has time; his decades of artwork along with hundreds of other items from other artists overflow into other houses he maintains — a couple of which he has basically picked up and moved.
Half of Medlock’s 200-year-old log home off U.S. 68 south of Wilmore is The Potter’s House, a two-room extension of The Potter’s Inn bed and breakfast off Walters Lane in Wilmore. Medlock helped facilitate that 17-bedroom building’s move across the street in 2005 before it became the inn. The log cabin he and his son moved from Owingsville six years ago now sits across from The Potter’s House and houses his studio in an extension.
For more information about The Potter’s Inn, visit www.thepottersinn.com. The Overflowing Vessels exhibit will be on display in the lobby of the Kinlaw Library at Asbury University through Wednesday, Sept. 12.