Laura Dunn had so much fun making her mini flower pots, she curated a full exhibition of tiny art. Her pots, from left, “Tiny Pot Triptych,” “Micro Pot Sextych” and “Nano Pot Polyptych,” are on view at Engine in Biddeford. Photo by Laura Dunn

BIDDEFORD — When Laura Dunn started making tiny clay pots, she couldn’t stop – and she couldn’t resist always trying to make them even smaller. We’re talking tiny, tiny pots. The smallest that Dunn displays at Engine in Biddeford is about the size of a grain of rice. She fills her pots with teensy flowers and seed pods.

As an artist, Dunn is interested in a range of scale. She makes large work and very small work, and finds both satisfying. She has three categories of her small pots: tiny pots, which are 1 to 2 inches tall; micro pots that are about one-quarter- to one-half-inch tall; and nano pots, which are smaller than a quarter-inch.

Deborah Whitney’s “Smoke and Mirrors” at Engine in Biddeford. Photo by Tammy Ackerman

She throws them on a potter’s wheel that’s about the size of a quarter or half-dollar. “It’s just so much fun,” she said. “I can’t help myself.”

Her enthusiasm has proven infectious. Dunn curated “Nano: An Exhibition of Super-Tiny Works,” on view at Engine in Biddeford through March 22. It’s the first exhibition in Engine’s new space at 163 Main St.

Despite the tiny nature of the work, the show has been hugely popular. Dunn recruited a total of 58 artists, and there are 145 pieces of work, including photos, paintings, prints, sculpture, fabric work and assemblages. The show is something of a who’s who of contemporary art in Maine, with contributions from Amy Stacey Curtis, Rachael O’Shaughnessy, Clint Fulkerson, Peter T. Bennett, Kelly Jo Shows, Amy Ray, Titi de Baccarat, Martha Miller, Patrick Corrigan, Scott Minzy and many others.

The opening in early February was packed, despite a snowy evening. “There’s great accessibility to small work,” Dunn said. “It pulls you in and it engages your attention and eye.”


Louisa Donelson’s “Stable Unsustainable 1” and a thumb for scale, on view at Engine in Biddeford. Photo by Laura Dunn

All the work is supposed to be smaller than 4 inches in any dimension. If she curates another tiny-works exhibition, Dunn will tighten up the rules even more, making the dimensions smaller. “Most people used the max,” she said. “I really want to emphasize the nano.”

Dunn is also involved in a three-person exhibition at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell, opening Friday, called “Maine Flora: Three Views.” That show includes floral work in a range of dimension and scale with her friends Kathryn S.B. Davis and Julie Einstein, who also are involved with the Biddeford exhibition. In collecting flowers, weeds, mosses, grasses and fungi for that show, Dunn realized she needed vessels for them.

“These tiny pots took me over,” she said.  “I’d been making them for about seven months and ‘Nano’ was born,” she said.

“Nano” is also a bit of a family affair for Dunn. She curated her sisters, Suzen Raven and Patricia Boucher, into the show.

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