Interview with Jill Beute Koverman, McKissick Museum – Walter Stephen’s work

By Vasi Hîrdo

You have been working at the University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum for over ten years. What are the main responsibilities and attributes of being the Chief Curator of Collections & Research?

As Chief Curator of Collections and Research, my responsibilities include overseeing the research and care for the permanent collections. The permanent collections include natural science collections (rocks, minerals, fossils, meteorites and shells) and material culture collections which include fine art, furniture, textiles (clothing, quilts, other domestic textiles, baskets, shoes, accessories), ceramics, glass, metal objects, political materials, silver and objects relating to the history of the University of South Carolina. I guide and implement the collecting activities of the museum in terms of new acquisitions and research, identify long-term care needs of the collections in terms of conservation and storage, and work with my colleagues on various exhibition projects. My research focus is on Southern pottery but I’m knowledgeable about traditional basket traditions of the South, South Carolina history and politics, and University history. In a mid-size institution like McKissick Museum, and particularly at a University, it is important to constantly learn about the various types of museum collections.

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Interview with Teresa & Helena Jané - Spotlight, May 2012

SPOTLIGHT, May 2012: Teresa & Helena Jané

/ Read the full interview in Ceramics Now - Issue Two

Ceramics Now Magazine
: You have been working with ceramic jewelry and knobs for over 10 years. How did you discover the passion for beautifully crafted objects?

THJane: I suppose it comes from our childhood. We grew up surrounded by photographs, books, stamps and original objects. Some had been brought up from the place where we’re born, Angola, in Africa.

Our dad was an architect, and mum was a teacher of arts and crafts. They invested strongly in our education for the discovery and exploration of unique artistic sensibilities, and we always felt responsible for giving them a well deserved response. We studied piano for several years and used to go to classical music concerts every weekend.
We also had the opportunity to learn and practice woodwork and woodcut, ceramics and basketry, weaving and dressmaking, bookbinding, painting and engraving, and so many other useful things.

Years later, we set up THJané project and, until today, we still live with the feeling of achievement that comes with creating things of beauty, you say, with our own hands.

Teresa and Helena Jane Ceramics - Interview Ceramics Now Magazine

060710, 2011, Ceramic and soutache, carved and hand-painted, H 4,5 x 2,4 x 2,4” - View their works

Working as a group has plenty of advantages, but sometimes it may be challenging. How do you divide your work? Who is responsible for what part of the constructing process?

After 10 years of intense activity, Teresa usually comes to be responsible by the development of ideas and by the exploration of painting techniques. Also drawing and sculpture. And I (Helena), by the choice of materials and techniques of production, studies of color and by the preparation and application of glazes.
Sure it can bring some comfort. Yet, new works often requires us to change roles and also to work together. Breaking routines and try new things have always encouraged us. Therefore, any of us can accomplish any task at any time.
Besides, it also reduces uncertainty about the capabilities of each other, allowing to have a greater respect for individuality and free expression. This is very important, specially when we seek the necessary consensus in our work.

[]

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Interview with Debra Fleury - New artist, May 2012

NEW ARTISTS, May 2012: Debra Fleury

/ Read the full interview in Ceramics Now - Issue Two

Ceramics Now Magazine: Growing up near the ocean around natural diversity and continuous change, you have developed a very finite line of work. Do you visualize your work from the very beginning?

Debra Fleury: I spend a lot of time sketching and planning. My sketches can be very specific and architectural, or very loose and gestural. But ultimately, I am an intuitive thinker. I rely on feeling and instinct in my artwork. When I sit down with clay the careful preparation is put aside in favor of the moment. Once I have the clay in my hands, I am often swept away by the possibilities I encounter as the clay begins to express its properties.

Do you remember the first ceramic piece that you created? How did it look like and how do you feel about your evolution as a ceramic artist?

I remember the first piece I created that had an impact on me. It was a little pinch pot, a half sphere and nicely formed. It was so perfect, likely the best I had made to date. I wondered what would happen if I dropped it while it was still malleable. I decided to indulge this impulse and I let my little pinch pot fall. The perfectly round rim became this very interesting, offset elliptical shape in response to the force of the impact. After it was fired it retained the mark of that force. It looked plastic, but it was solid.
 
This experience helped me recognize the approach that I wanted to take with this medium — to enjoy the process and avoid feeling that the work is precious. The visual aspect of the work is compelling to me, but the process is the lure.

Debra Fleury Ceramics - Interview for Ceramics Now Magazine

Tidal, 2011, Dark Stoneware, Porcelain and glass. Fired to cone 6, wall installation. Dimensions variable, average size per individual piece is approximately 10x10x8 cm - View her works

When constructing a new piece, you are using different materials such as clay, glass and glaze. What challenges you the most by combining these materials?

I love the unknown. I love being surprised by the materials and I love experimenting. Combining clay bodies with different shrink rates, adding glass, or using glaze in an unconventional way are a few of the methods I use when courting disaster or looking for insight. I push the materials toward something that I think will be interesting, but I never really know what will happen. Opening the kiln after a firing can be like meeting the work for the first time.
 

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Interview with Max Cheprack, Clay extrusion - Techniques, May 2012

TECHNIQUES, May 2012: Max Cheprack

/ Read more articles in Ceramics Now - Issue Two

Ceramics Now Magazine
: You are studying Industrial Design at the Holon Institute of Technology, Israel, and recently you underwent a research project on clay extrusion. What are its concepts? Tell us about the technical process.

Max Cheprack
: The extruding clay project started in the third year of my studies, for B.design in industrial design, when I first met the manual extruder in ceramics course. After learning various techniques in the field of ceramic design, I was fascinated by the option to create clay objects using replication. The Semi-industrial process of extruding clay enables the creation of precise and complex objects easily and quickly. Extrusion allows me to design the inside of the object, something that the rest of the techniques do not allow. Extruding technology allows to produce a closed and complex object, and therefore very strong. This allows the expansion of production beyond the products we know today. In addition, this technology brings new aesthetic to the ceramic field.

As an Industrial designer who is interested in manufacturing technologies, I moved away from the dies that come with the manual extruder Kit, and I began to assemble a set of basic dies with complex shapes. Later, I have built an extruder which works on pneumatic piston, in order to free both of my hands. This allows me to make variety of manipulations on the objects like bending and cutting.
In order to explore the limits of this technology, I decided to make a stool. The stool is a challenging product for extruding clay process because it is a relatively big product, which must be strong enough to bear persons weight, and should be able to connect with other materials.

My inspiration is taken from a local element of the Middle East - Mashrabiya. Though the project ended as part of my design studies, for me he is a starting point to new possibilities in ceramic design.

Max Cheprack Ceramics - Clay extrusion

Max Cheprack, Chairs made with the extruding machine

What was the most difficult part in creating the necessary tools for the project? Did you get any help?

The hardest part in this project was to understand the size relation between the size of the die and the amount of power that needed to push the clay. First I played with the manual extruder that we have in our workshop and then I made different dies to check how complex things can be. After realizing clearly how things are working I wanted to make the next step towards an extruder that will free both my hands to make manipulations on the objects while it is being extruded. I consulted with an engineer who just gave me a headache with schemes numbers and stuff that I couldn’t understand, so I decided to use a pneumatic piston as my base for the machine and after many trails with different pistons and die sizes I made one small extruder and one big extruder.

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Patricia Sannit: Eroded Poles, 2012, 12”x9”x11”, cast, carved and incised found and reclaimed clays, slip and stain

Patricia Sannit: Eroded Poles, 2012, 12”x9”x11”, cast, carved and incised found and reclaimed clays, slip and stain

Patricia Sannit: Cradle, 2010, 21”x32”x12”, hand-built, carved and incised reclaimed clays, slip and stain

Patricia Sannit: Cradle, 2010, 21”x32”x12”, hand-built, carved and incised reclaimed clays, slip and stain

Patricia Sannit: Bottle: Infinity, 2009 , 22”x7”x4”, hand-built, carved and incised stoneware, slip and stain

Patricia Sannit: Bottle: Infinity, 2009 , 22”x7”x4”, hand-built, carved and incised stoneware, slip and stain

CERAMICS NOW SHOP:
Issue Two - Ceramics Now Magazine
Ceramics Now Magazine’s Issue Two introduces the work of over 35 international artists, beginning with Ken Eastman, Kimberly Cook, Patricia Sannit, Marianne McGrath, Annie Woodford, Suzanne Stumpf or Ruth Power, and continuing with a special feature on Romanian ceramic artists, and a preview feature for Copenhagen Ceramics. The issue also inaugurates Ceramics Now’s new Review category.
/ Cover: Ken Eastman, Hold your own. Media: Stoneware with painted coloured slips and oxides. Dimensions: 14.9 x 13 x 21.3 inches / 38 x 33 x 54 cm.
PRE-ORDER NOW► Printed Issue, USA & International: $15► Printed Issue, Europe: €11► View subscription offers.► Want to buy more? Contact us.
* Shipping costs are not included for the printed issue.
WHAT YOU GET - PRINT - The issue delivered to your door in 1 month for USA & International orders, and in 20 days for Europe (after the launch of the issue).- FREE access to the Digital Issue (and online reading).- .PDF (Windows) and .EPUB (Mac) files only.
FULL CONTENTKen Eastman, Brian Kakas, Patricia Sannit, Steve Belz, Kimberly Cook, Annie Woodford, Jenni Ward, Kwok-Pong Bobby Tso, Liliana Folta, Deborah Britt, Cindy Billingsley, Paula Bellacera, Teresa & Helena Jané, Virginie Besengez, Els Wenselaers, Walter B. Stephen (review by Jill Beute Koverman), Cybele Rowe and Lauren Ari (review by Daniel Fleischmann), Allison Luce (review by James Romaine), Tom Hubbard (review by Roxana Ciobanu), Ceramics Now Exhibition (review by Vasi Hîrdo), Max Cheprack, Suzanne Stumpf, Marianne McGrath, Kathy Pallie, Debra Fleury, Bente Skjøttgaard, Bodil Manz, Arina Ailincăi, Marta Jakobovits, Romana Mateiaş, Aniela Ovadiuc, Oriana Pelladi, Eugenia Pop, Cristina Popescu Russu, Simona Tănăsescu, Bogdan Teodorescu, Anti-Utopias.
Read more about this issue.

CERAMICS NOW SHOP:

Issue Two - Ceramics Now Magazine

Ceramics Now Magazine’s Issue Two introduces the work of over 35 international artists, beginning with Ken Eastman, Kimberly Cook, Patricia Sannit, Marianne McGrath, Annie Woodford, Suzanne Stumpf or Ruth Power, and continuing with a special feature on Romanian ceramic artists, and a preview feature for Copenhagen Ceramics. The issue also inaugurates Ceramics Now’s new Review category.

/ Cover: Ken Eastman, Hold your own. Media: Stoneware with painted coloured slips and oxides. Dimensions: 14.9 x 13 x 21.3 inches / 38 x 33 x 54 cm.

PRE-ORDER NOW
Printed Issue, USA & International: $15
Printed Issue, Europe: €11

View subscription offers.
► Want to buy more? Contact us.

* Shipping costs are not included for the printed issue.

WHAT YOU GET - PRINT
- The issue delivered to your door in 1 month for USA & International orders, and in 20 days for Europe (after the launch of the issue).
- FREE access to the Digital Issue (and online reading).
- .PDF (Windows) and .EPUB (Mac) files only.

FULL CONTENT
Ken Eastman, Brian Kakas, Patricia Sannit, Steve Belz, Kimberly Cook, Annie Woodford, Jenni Ward, Kwok-Pong Bobby Tso, Liliana Folta, Deborah Britt, Cindy Billingsley, Paula Bellacera, Teresa & Helena Jané, Virginie Besengez, Els Wenselaers, Walter B. Stephen (review by Jill Beute Koverman), Cybele Rowe and Lauren Ari (review by Daniel Fleischmann), Allison Luce (review by James Romaine), Tom Hubbard (review by Roxana Ciobanu), Ceramics Now Exhibition (review by Vasi Hîrdo), Max Cheprack, Suzanne Stumpf, Marianne McGrath, Kathy Pallie, Debra Fleury, Bente Skjøttgaard, Bodil Manz, Arina Ailincăi, Marta Jakobovits, Romana Mateiaş, Aniela Ovadiuc, Oriana Pelladi, Eugenia Pop, Cristina Popescu Russu, Simona Tănăsescu, Bogdan Teodorescu, Anti-Utopias.

Read more about this issue.

(Source: ceramicsnowmagazine)

CERAMICS NOW SHOP:
Digital Issue Two - Ceramics Now Magazine
Ceramics Now Magazine’s Issue Two introduces the work of over 35 international artists, beginning with Ken Eastman, Kimberly Cook, Patricia Sannit, Marianne McGrath, Annie Woodford, Suzanne Stumpf or Ruth Power, and continuing with a special feature on Romanian ceramic artists, and a preview feature for Copenhagen Ceramics. The issue also inaugurates Ceramics Now’s new Review category.
/ Digital Cover: Romana Cucu Mateiaş, Signs between Heaven and Earth. Media: Earthenware, Metalic oxides, 64.2 x 6.7 inches, 75.2 x 6.7 inches / 163 x 17 cm, 191 x 17 cm.
PRE-ORDER NOW► Digital Issue, USA & International: $4 ► Digital Issue, Europe: €3► View subscription offers.► Want to buy more? Contact us.
WHAT YOU GET - DIGITAL - Full content of the issue for a very good price. - Access link to the magazine for online reading. - .PDF (Windows) and .EPUB (Mac) files only.
FULL CONTENTKen Eastman, Brian Kakas, Patricia Sannit, Steve Belz, Kimberly Cook, Annie Woodford, Jenni Ward, Kwok-Pong Bobby Tso, Liliana Folta, Deborah Britt, Cindy Billingsley, Paula Bellacera, Teresa & Helena Jané, Virginie Besengez, Els Wenselaers, Walter B. Stephen (review by Jill Beute Koverman), Cybele Rowe and Lauren Ari (review by Daniel Fleischmann), Allison Luce (review by James Romaine), Tom Hubbard (review by Roxana Ciobanu), Ceramics Now Exhibition (review by Vasi Hîrdo), Max Cheprack, Suzanne Stumpf, Marianne McGrath, Kathy Pallie, Debra Fleury, Bente Skjøttgaard, Bodil Manz, Arina Ailincăi, Marta Jakobovits, Romana Cucu Mateiaş, Aniela Ovadiuc, Oriana Pelladi, Eugenia Pop, Cristina Popescu Russu, Simona Tănăsescu, Bogdan Teodorescu, Anti-Utopias / Sabin Borş.
Read more about this issue.

CERAMICS NOW SHOP:

Digital Issue Two - Ceramics Now Magazine

Ceramics Now Magazine’s Issue Two introduces the work of over 35 international artists, beginning with Ken Eastman, Kimberly Cook, Patricia Sannit, Marianne McGrath, Annie Woodford, Suzanne Stumpf or Ruth Power, and continuing with a special feature on Romanian ceramic artists, and a preview feature for Copenhagen Ceramics. The issue also inaugurates Ceramics Now’s new Review category.

/ Digital Cover: Romana Cucu Mateiaş, Signs between Heaven and Earth. Media: Earthenware, Metalic oxides, 64.2 x 6.7 inches, 75.2 x 6.7 inches / 163 x 17 cm, 191 x 17 cm.

PRE-ORDER NOW
Digital Issue, USA & International: $4
Digital Issue, Europe: €3

View subscription offers.
► Want to buy more? Contact us.

WHAT YOU GET - DIGITAL
- Full content of the issue for a very good price.
- Access link to the magazine for online reading.
- .PDF (Windows) and .EPUB (Mac) files only.

FULL CONTENT
Ken Eastman, Brian Kakas, Patricia Sannit, Steve Belz, Kimberly Cook, Annie Woodford, Jenni Ward, Kwok-Pong Bobby Tso, Liliana Folta, Deborah Britt, Cindy Billingsley, Paula Bellacera, Teresa & Helena Jané, Virginie Besengez, Els Wenselaers, Walter B. Stephen (review by Jill Beute Koverman), Cybele Rowe and Lauren Ari (review by Daniel Fleischmann), Allison Luce (review by James Romaine), Tom Hubbard (review by Roxana Ciobanu), Ceramics Now Exhibition (review by Vasi Hîrdo), Max Cheprack, Suzanne Stumpf, Marianne McGrath, Kathy Pallie, Debra Fleury, Bente Skjøttgaard, Bodil Manz, Arina Ailincăi, Marta Jakobovits, Romana Cucu Mateiaş, Aniela Ovadiuc, Oriana Pelladi, Eugenia Pop, Cristina Popescu Russu, Simona Tănăsescu, Bogdan Teodorescu, Anti-Utopias / Sabin Borş.

Read more about this issue.

(Source: ceramicsnowmagazine)

Interview with Steve Belz - Artist of the month, April 2012

ARTIST OF THE MONTH, April 2012: Steve Belz

/ Read the full interview in Ceramics Now - Issue Two

Ceramics Now Magazine
: You are strengthening your career as a ceramic artist year by year. What was your first contact with ceramics and when did you realize you have a passion for it?

I took a ceramics class in my junior year in college, and that changed my world instantly. I was constantly in the studio. I had worked with wood and metal prior to clay, but it was amazing to find one material that possesses the qualities of many materials. Throughout its various stages, clay is plastic at first, then flexible and strong like wood, then hard like steel. This is over simplified, but basically I love the metamorphic qualities of clay. It is an incredible material that twenty years later, I am still very passionate about.

[]

Steve Belz Contemporary Ceramics
Assisted Nucleation, 2011, Low fire ceramic, washes, glaze, rubber cord and steel fastener, 20H x 30W x 10D inches - View his works

What is the most difficult part in constructing a new piece? Tell us about your creative process, from sketches to the final display.

I usually work on multiple pieces at one time, so that they feed off of each other as a series. My work is often an amalgamation of forms and details from mostly natural objects and landscapes. I have a lot of natural objects and photographs around my studio. I use these details as a starting point for the forms and surfaces that I create, often manipulating the scale or color of the details that I am interested in. 

I often start by sketching in a notebook to quickly work through ideas, then I move to a large chalkboard for some full scale sketching. My sketches are often covered in words that inform the themes I am working on. Once I can visualize the form I want to create I move on to construction, my favorite part.

The most difficult part of constructing my larger work is managing the appropriate humidity. I allow certain areas to dry enough so that they have strength to support the form, while other areas are wet enough so that I can continue adding more clay. All of this happens while maintaining a smooth gradation of humidity between those areas to avoid cracks. I spend several weeks working on one piece, often jumping between other pieces while I wait for one to dry enough.

I rarely build my work in the position that it will rest. This does two things. It makes it easier to move the piece around to work on it and it keeps the orientation of the object open until the end of the building process. I can have most of the form completed and then cut and dart areas to modify the form. Once the main form is completed I smooth and refine the surface. This step is very meditative for me. It has a rhythm and fluidity that I enjoy.

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Interview with Ruth Power - New artist, April 2012

NEW ARTISTS, April 2012: Ruth Power

/ Read the full interview in Ceramics Now - Issue Two

Ceramics Now Magazine
: You are a very young ceramic artist. When did you discover the potential of this medium? Did school have an important role in directing you on this path?

Ruth Power: Like most artists. makers or craftspeople, I have been interested in art and working with my hands from a very young age. I had a fairly basic art education in secondary school in Ireland (largely based on 2-dimensional drawing work) - quite the antithesis of what we do in third level education. However, I decided that I wanted to attend the National College of Art and Design (Dublin) from a fairly young age and my art teachers in school encouraged me to do so.

The college has a great system, by which everybody does a Core Year in their primary year (four years in total). From here, the student embarks on their first steps towards their professional formation as artists, designers and educators. The student has the opportunity to sample the diverse courses the college has to offer and in turn, discover where their strengths, weaknesses and passions lie.
Many people (such as myself when I began) have no idea what department they wish to pursue when they enter, so this system works really well. Throughout the year, I did a lot of 3D making and intricate work with wire and found objects, so I decided to go into the Ceramics, Glass and Metals Department, specializing in metals. However, when I entered the department I fell in love with ceramics and its diversity. I knew nothing about the material, glazing or mold-making. The only experience I had with clay was when I made a pinch pot in 1993 for Mother’s Day. I painted in neon pink and yellow (which was in vogue at the time!) with ‘Ruth Power, Age 5’ scrawled into the base. I was in instant awe of the abundance of potential of the material, and the infinite amount of creative and scientific exploration that could be done with this ancient medium. Thus, it was only until I was in my second year of college that I discovered the potential of ceramics.

Ruth Power Ceramics, tentacles, sexuality
Breasts (Cephalophilia), 2011, 48cm wide x 42cm long x 14cm deep; porcelain, LED light, cord, plug, wooden box with black paint and flocked interior (Black and white image) - View her works

Your works are debating subjects like censorship, mainstream pornography or sexual repression: did you choose these topics in the hunt for controversy?

I have identified with being a feminist for many years now and these subjects have been of huge importance to me. I had researched and discussed those topics for quite some time before merging them into my artwork, when I was in Third/Fourth Year. I wrote my thesis on a very similar subject (how pornography is influencing mainstream trends). In Second Year, we focused on skills and techniques and thus, did not get the chance to incorporate much of our own expression. It wasn’t until Third Year that we were taking on self directed projects and had the opportunity to entirely immerse ourselves into our own fully developed concepts.

To me personally, the work is not controversial; it is dealing with issues that I believe need to be addressed urgently and discussed more openly. Its just that sexual politics and pornography are not usually deliberated, and the naked body is still taboo in our culture. Moreover, because I have had a considerable interest in such topics for quite some time, any of the initial ‘shock’ factor had been lost on me a long time ago. So, for me, the work was never really controversial (especially since I have an open attitude towards sex, sexuality and the body). It was bringing to light issues that I believe need to be confronted, issues that affect me personally.

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Residence of Growth, Allison Luce at the Zentrum für Keramik-Berlin

By James Romaine

Since its inception in 2005, the Zentrum für Keramik-Berlin has been an oasis of cultural exchange for ceramic artists in one of Europe’s principal artistic centers. Founded by Thomas Hirschler and Kaja Witt, the residency program provides a creative sanctuary in the midst of an exhilarating city where artists from around the world can create artwork stimulated by their surroundings and experiences. Developed after the couple spent time at the Archie Bray foundation in Helena, Montana, the Zentrum für Keramik-Berlin welcomes artists to a city that is, at once, standing in history and bursting into the future.

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