You will receive two newsletters per month featuring our latest articles - interviews, reviews and information on contemporary ceramic art exhibitions.
Arina Ailincăi: IN-SCRIPTED BODY / Art on the Avenue Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
September 14 - October 7, 2012
Opening Reception: Friday, September 14, 5:30 - 8:30 pm.
Art on the Avenue Gallery, at 3808 Lancaster Avenue, is pleased to present Arina Ailincăi: IN-SCRIPTED BODY, a solo sculpture exhibition featuring recent works in clay of this noteworthy international artist.
Arina Ailincăi is a truly international artist. Raised and educated in Romania, she began her artistic career in Eastern Europe. In the 1980s she crossed the Atlantic and settled in Canada, where she was soon acknowledged as one of its most talented artists working in clay. At that time she also exhibited and lectured in the United States. Over the last several years, she has been invited to work, exhibit and lecture at major ceramic art centers and international events throughout Europe, including Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Romania, Croatia and Turkey. Most recently she has held residencies in China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.
Arina Ailincăi’s art focuses on the human figure, with the body cast using real bodies - often her own. The closeresemblance of the ceramic sculpture to the actual body is only a starting point for her deeper exploration of the universal human condition as an embodied self. Ailincai’s sculptures in clay are philosophically and metaphorically charged. The markings on the outer surface and the mysterious inscriptions in the hollow interior of the body transform the replica of a particular individual into an archetypal human vessel, holding the traces of inner life, time, place and history.
"My desire is to “write” a three dimensional poem to both the fragile physical body and the intangible world of our inner existence. I translate this desire into ceramic sculpture through the use of faithfully replicated, life-size clay body-casts and fragments. I press the clay into the plaster mold to create ”the shell," a hollowed out body shape: an empty vessel containing the inner self, with its personal and universal history. The scripts imprinted on the interior walls of the shell, acquire symbolic and metaphoric dimensions, becoming a palimpsest of the entire human existence. While most of my works are made in clay, I make use of other materials and techniques, often combining drawing and photography in my installations. I want to synthesize two-dimensional and three-dimensional vocabularies into a visual language charged with meaning, which directs the viewers to sense their location, both within and without.” Arina Ailincăi
Jason Hackett: Two Beards, 2012, Ceramic, gold leaf, 14” x 24” x 5”
/ Read the full interview in Ceramics Now - Issue Two
Ceramics Now Magazine: Do you remember your first encounter with ceramics? What made you choose this particular way of expressing yourself?
Kimberly Cook: My first encounter with ceramics was when I was a child. During my family’s summer holiday, my parents would take my sister and I on a very long drive from Texas to Ohio, to visit my father’s family. I remember being so excited when we arrived in Ohio, because it meant that I was going to be able to visit my aunt Coby’s ceramic studio. She had an incredible ceramic studio set up in her basement, where she taught workshops. I remember loving the smell of the wet clay, being surrounded by an endless array of colorful glazes, china paints, gold, silver, and pearl lusters, and tools that enabled her students to create anything they wanted out of this wondrous natural material that was easy to form and smelled sweetly of the earth. I was enthralled with the medium, and wanted to learn the techniques of creating both my own sculptural and functional forms.
Another vivid childhood memory of being exposed to ceramics was seeing the traveling King Tut exhibit. I was drawn to the ceramic Bes deity pots and their use in the home as a protector of women and children. For the first time, even in mynaiveté, I realized that there could exist a “conceptual” aspect to creating these forms. What also intrigued me were the marl ceramics of the second Naqada period, which were decorated with reddish-brown drawings that developed from the early geometric forms to less abstract images. Among some of my favorite are those that depicted oared boats transporting what has been interpreted as deities, and the decorations that included people and animals.
Working in clay has become a cathartic way of expressing myself, and because of this, I will never stop using it as my primary mode of self-expression. From these early childhood memories and tangible encounters, I found a palpable love of ceramic materials, which sustain me to this day.
Trophy, 2011, Ceramic, mason stain, gold luster, 35” x 23” x 20” - View her works
Your works are figurative and often have a narrative quality. But trying to convey a certain message without using words can be difficult for an artist. Do you sometimes fear that people will fail to understand the meaning of your works? How outspoken should a work of art be?
I use to be concerned that viewers would fail to understand my work, but not anymore. After your work has been censored and removed from a gallery, you start to understand that that is actually a compliment. You have struck a nerve; a message got across to a viewer, understood or misunderstood, doesn’t matter. What created that shift in thought for me was the fact that I realized that everyone is going to have their own experience viewing my work, their own perception, and their own opinions. I am okay with that – to me that is what good art is about. If it moves someone, great; if it disturbs someone, great – I want my work to encourage people to go inside of themselves and ponder and reflect before reaching any hard and fast conclusions.
/ Read more reviews in Ceramics Now - Issue Two
Interview with Jill Beute Koverman, Chief Curator of Collections and Research, McKissick Museum - Walter B. 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?
Jill Beute Koverman: 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.
During the 26th of May and the 27th of July, USC’s McKissick Museum will host a very important exhibition of rare 20th century ceramics made by Walter B. Stephen. Tell us about the heritage of Walter’s work.
/ Read the press release of the exhibition.
Walter Stephen was born in Nebraska in 1876. His family moved to 100 acres of land in Shelby County, Tennessee in 1897. It was on this property where he discovered layers of pink, white and yellow clay. His intellectual and creative curiosity was fostered by his mother. Nellie Stephen was an amateur artist who taught blackboard art and painting. Walter did not begin working with clay until he was twenty-seven years old (1903). Together, Walter and his mother began experimenting with the clay and the decorating process. It is also possible that the two had seen George Ohr, “the Mad Potter of Biloxi,” demonstrating his pottery skills at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904. Originally named, “Stephen and Son,” they renamed their pottery “Nonconnah” after the local creek. The forms were typical decorative vases and pitchers of the period. The decoration was different as Mrs. Stephen’s painted layers of porcelain slip onto the wares, often adding colored oxides for leaves and branches. This paste on paste, or cameo, technique was similar to the original method employed by Josiah Wedgwood for his Jasperwares. In 1910, Walter’s parents died and he continued to operate the Nonconnah pottery in Tennessee until 1912. A year later, he moved to the Skyland community of North Carolina, south of Asheville, and established the Nonconnah Pottery in partnership with Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Pine Ryman. At this iteration of the Nonconnah Pottery, Stephen continued to work at the potter’s wheel, creating matte glazed cameo wares until 1916. The Ryman’s operated the Nonconnah until 1918, producing molded and slab constructed wares with simple blue and brown glazes.
Walter B. Stephen, Three stoneware vases with crackle glaze. Courtesy McKissick Museum, University of South Carolina.
It would be almost a decade after Stephen’s departure from Nonconnah before he established the Pisgah Forest Pottery. During this period, he became closely associated with Oscar L. Bachelder of the Omar Khayyam Pottery. Walter worked for a short time with Bachelder but did not want to make utilitarian pottery. It was also during the early 1920s, that he was experimenting with local clay,glazes and firing techniques. Fragments from his Arden home indicate his interest in the Chinese celadon and red glazes.
/ 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.
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.
/ 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.
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.
/ 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, 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.
Patricia Sannit: Eroded Poles, 2012, 12”x9”x11”, cast, carved and incised found and reclaimed clays, slip and stain
Patricia Sannit: Citadel, 2011, 5’6”x11’x11’, 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: Bottle: Infinity, 2009 , 22”x7”x4”, hand-built, carved and incised stoneware, slip and stain