Steve Belz

Steve Belz Ceramics - Featured ceramic artist

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“The environment is in a delicate balance between well-being and decline. For a healthy society, we must be responsive to the fact that all of our activities affect the Earth. My sculptures express the beauty of nature and the tension created by man’s manipulation of our environment. I use the beauty of form to increase the viewer’s emotional connection with nature. This connection to nature can expand one person’s, and ultimately our society’s compassion for the natural world.

Historically we have manipulated plants by gathering seeds, grafting limbs, and controlling pollination of plants with traits we find favorable. These qualities were gradually developed over countless generations. What is different about our more recent modification of plants is the far-reaching selection of traits from organisms that would not be accessible without genetic engineering. For instance, splicing a fish gene with a strawberry to make the strawberry more resistant to cold could not occur if not for techniques developed by scientists. This kind of manipulation is dramatically different from our prior system of plant selection and has potentially profound effects on the Earth.

I use manufactured elements in my work to create a tension meant to bring about a consciousness within the viewer, to open a dialogue about contemporary society’s association with nature. This discussion can raise awareness of the danger that our current situation poses. A lack of responsibility and stewardship for the Earth creates many problems for the planet, among them degradation of our basic life support systems, as reflected in the loss of biodiversity, increased toxicity of our food systems, inefficient use of natural resources and global climate change. I hope that my art will encourage viewers to educate themselves and become increasingly proactive in assuring a sustainable future.” Steve Belz

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Ruth Power

Ruth Power Contemporary Ceramics

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“My work is strongly political and inspired by the invention of Japanese tentacle pornography.

It all began when I typed in ‘tentacle’ to Google Images. 90% of the images that showed up consisted of violent tentacle porn. Tentacle porn has been around for centuries, but only became hugely popular in 1980, when a Japanese animator named Maeda wanted to make an erotic anime called Urotsuki. However, at the time, Japanese law forbade anatomically explicit pornographic drawings. Illustrators were always looking for ways to get around the law, so, instead of depicting an erect penis, Maeda depicted brutal tentacles.

Moreover, it was illegal to show couples taking part in sex where the man penetrates the woman with his penis for mutual pleasure, but it was perfectly legal to show tentacle rape. This contradiction of censorship fascinated me. The restrictions on the latter substantially caused the former: the return of the repressed as huge, aggressive tentacles…and this is what I found to be most fascinating.

Thus, the tentacles in my work symbolize sexual repression. I am very worried about contemporary sexuality, with women still derogated for acting sexual and mainstream pornography becoming more and more brutal. I pay a lot of attention to the media, which further influences my work. I use casts of my own body parts to express how this state of deformed sexuality is affecting me.” Ruth Power

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Jenni Ward

Jenni Ward Contemporary Ceramics

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Jenni Ward is a sculptor, art instructor and owner of Earth Art Studio in Aptos CA. In 2005, she opened Earth Art Studio; a sculpture studio offering clay and mixed media sculpture classes and workshops for children, teens and adults. Throughout her teaching career she has worked extensively with many youth and senior art programs. She is also the creative engine behind the humanitarian group; HOPE Art which brings art to the youth of Haiti. In addition to teaching, she has been creating, showing and selling her own sculptures since graduating from University of Hartford-Hartford Art School with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1998. She exhibits her sculptures locally and nationally.

“My work focuses on how organic forms interact and engage with the space they encompass. I create abstract arrangements reflecting the biological world of seeds, pollens, bones, shells and entomology.

My pieces explore the tensions of opposing forces with results that evoke contrary feelings of unshackled captivity, organized randomness and the density of negative space. At times I work in multiples; the forms are often configured in simple geometric compositions to counter their organic nature. Using clay as my primary medium, I develop these pieces with commonalities of shape, color, texture and movement. The results are a series of work that strive to achieve a sense of beauty in their asymmetrical balance.” Jenni Ward

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Liliana Folta

Liliana Folta Contemporary Latin American Ceramics

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“The potential ability of the imagination has an important impact in our lives.  Minds have visual images that we collect through our lives.

These inner-images that represent my works are examinations of my existence. However, in this bank of memories I cherish every possible emotion; happiness, growing pains, family loss, first love, motherhood, sexuality, multicultural experiences, frustration, social-political issues and most importantly the celebration of life.

As an artist I like to work with different mediums, especially ceramics and acrylic paintings. Lately I have been experimenting with ceramic installations and mixed media. The freedom of expanding my work in another dimension makes me feel more connected with the viewers.
The process of my work mostly is very spontaneous. The rest comes along with what my subconscious has been saving in my bank of memories, throughout my life and the happening of the moment.” Liliana Folta

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Kira O’Brien

Kira O Brien Ceramics - featured artist on Ceramics Now

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“My work has a sculptural yet functional element to it and encompasses a sense of traditional ceramic techniques. Within this tradition is the art of storytelling and symbols which evoke certain sentiments and nostalgia but also a sense of the present environment. This environment is psychological and therefore each piece points to emotions within the narrative.

My present work is currently narrated by the symbol of the chair.
How does one define a simple thing like the chair? What makes the chair, a chair? As James Joyce says in A Portrait of a young man, “Is a chair conceived as a work of tragic or comic art?”
No other object forcefully shapes the physical, social and emotional dimensions of our lives. On the chair seats only one person at a time and responds to the body through comfort. It has a communicative function and offers a glimpse into our collective ideas about that sense of comfort and order.
One can imagine the world from a persons’ perspective as it communicates compassion. Just as its absence communicates disrespect, lack of empathy and loss, whether this loss is a physical or emotional one.” Kira O’Brien

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Annie Woodford

Annie Woodford Contemporary Ceramics, featured artist on Ceramics Now Magazine

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Intrigued by the tenuous connection between past, present and future and the shadowy, illusive meaning of time, Annie Woodford makes work that is both haunting and enigmatic. Shifting boundaries between science and metaphysics and an enduring interest in parallel universe theory instill the pieces with a heightened intensity, whilst an obsession with hidden worlds has prompted her investigations into microscopy and the nano universe - making the unseen seen.

Captivated by the natural world and our mysterious, infinite universe - whether seen at macroscopic or microscopic levels - she finds them the source of endless fascination and wonder. Mankind’s place within that universe and the dichotomy between our wish for progress and our proclivity for self-destruction, has become a central theme.

A passion for frozen environments and the message they embrace, not only from the past but also for the future of our planet has resulted in research trips to the Arctic and Iceland and a detailed study of the coldest place on Earth – Antarctica.

The work exhibits qualities that reflect the natural world, elements that highlight its beauty and transience. Fragile, frangible, complex and esoteric, delicately balanced between risk and control, her pieces float and oscillate between absence and presence, hovering silently in a place between.

‘Nature is an infinite sphere of which the center is everywhere and the circumference nowhere’ Blaise Pascal, mathematician, poet, philosopher.

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Kwok-Pong Bobby Tso

Kwok-Pong Bobby Tso Contemporary Chinese Ceramics

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“The concept of my recent work is about form, and it grows from my curiosity about space; it investigates the relationship between two objects and it questions how we should make the landscape to react to man-made object. In my work I aim to explore that joyful, interesting, and mysterious relationship between objects and to create compositions with complex configurations though simple and unexpected components.

It is my intention to trigger the viewer to look closer and rediscover the ordinary, yet unfamiliar relationships that exists everywhere within all objects and human beings. Through sensations, communication and exploration, both objects and humans are able to obtain appropriate space and attention. I hope my work is able to look into this perception of the relationships, but more importantly - to enrich this relationship and establish a sense of place.” Kwok-Pong Tso

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Bogdan Teodorescu

Bogdan Teodorescu Romanian Ceramics

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“It seems like I’m always trapped in a style beyond a heterogeneous appearance of my work. It isn’t bad advertising, but if you really want to feel a connection with my works, you need to be patient and to look closely to more than twenty images. And perhaps contrary to my statement, my style wouldn’t be so difficult understand. Everywhere there is a sort of a struggle between fantasy and at least one kind of realism. I also admit that the manner is as important as the idea itself. Some say that the substance of a style is nowadays just a literary, philosophical concern - mostly when it has something to do with the more popular social involvement. I think that someone’s style doesn’t have to be interconnected with anything social and one can always choose to seek for inspiration in its inner self.

As far as I can say at this moment, my experience with ceramics has two aspects (or constraints). First is the period of apprenticeship, which numbers the last year of my high-school and the years in the University of Arts and Design in Cluj. The other one is my collaboration with Wagner Porcelains. If high-school was rather a period of independence - ceramics was a very late decision. The academic years were a continuous fight with a conservatory approach and, sometimes more frustrating, with the lack of technical possibilities. With Wagner, the limitations went only in the commercial direction. Despite all of this, I totally agree with (some) constraints, which can provide a wide range of surprising solutions.

My porcelain works have a high decorative touch, more in the sense of fashion with all its aspects. Collages and technical varieties are also present in my work, replacing the limitation of the material. With Wagner I only work with white porcelain, though adding my pictures. I am not trying to follow any precise trend, nor Romanian or International; I am only constantly paying attention to everything interesting and meaningful around me.” Bogdan Teodorescu

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Kimberly Cook

Kimberly Cook Contemporary Ceramics on Ceramics Now Magazine

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“Awkward primitive animal instincts lie unconsciously in our genetic make-up.  Dominance, survival, reproduction, and group instinct feed our propensity to digress into our egos; cruelty, alpha status, fight or flight, sexual exploits, and pack mentality.  In my body of work I create imagery that embodies tension and anxiety, while also reflecting animalistic traits and certain elements of human ritualistic thought and control that intrigue me.  Using clay as my primary sculptural material allows me to explore these thoughts and questions using techniques that actually originated in human ritualistic practices.  Figures, deities, and fetishes were modeled into both animal and human form for magical or religious practices long before clay was used for utilitarian ware.  This harnessing of imagery deemed as powerful has survived for centuries, allowing humans to access manifestations of supernatural forces believed to improve their daily struggles in life. 

Personally and intuitively driven, my work with imagery of animals is grounded in the exploration of the universal human condition, focusing on aspects of the ceremonial; serving as embodiments for the physical, spiritual, and psychological being. My preoccupation with human existence, alienation, fear and apathy, is what motivates me to express elements of autobiography, ritual, and the significance of life’s struggles.  Working between narrative and abstract, revealing both the perception of power and powerlessness, the figures and symbols that I create are often purposely rendered disfigured and dysfunctional.” Kimberly Cook

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Paula Bellacera

Paula Bellacera Ceramics

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“All my life I have been fascinated with form and color. During my youth I watched my mother dabble in various art media; eventually she settled on ceramics. Inspired by her explorations I struck out on my own. I focused on the two-dimensional plane first with photography, then painting, and finally printmaking. Recently I began attending a community Raku night where I discovered my true joy is interacting with clay and creating three-dimensional forms. The spontaneity and plasticity of the medium makes handbuilding a process of discovery - full of surprises. My approach is a collaboration where the clay and I work together to discover hidden shapes and reveal emotions and personalities through animal forms.

Just as friends and acquaintances have their own distinctive traits and behaviors, each of my sculpted animals has personality and expresses a unique character. When people step into my world (via studio or gallery), they often smile and chuckle as they recognize a bit of themselves, their pets, friends or family members in the postures and expressions of my sculptures. In this work, my intention is to present the best of humanity through our animal friends and to help us laugh and love our differences and ourselves.” Paula Bellacera

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Debra Fleury

Debra Fleury Contemporary Ceramics

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“While growing up near the ocean, I spent many hours peering at tiny creatures and looking for clues to their secret lives. This began a lifelong passion for the the minute details, the battered fragments, and the myriad patterns of organic life. The smallest bits of bone or shell would ignite intense curiosity and imaginative leaps; What was this creature? What did it look like? How did it die? Did it have a family, a home, or friends? Did it feel or think? What would it have thought of me? I create sculptural objects in an empathetic attempt to gain insight into the inner life of creatures and I seek to spark curiosity and imaginative leaps in the viewer.

Clay is critical to exploring these ideas. Touching clay and responding to its organic properties are key aspects of my largely exploratory and intuitive creative process. Risk taking and pushing materials to their limits is also important. I experiment with the forces used to shape clay, glaze, and glass as a process for imagining and exploring the effects of natural forces. I combine clays with glass or other materials to see what they reveal about their individual properties when they are fused together.” Debra Fleury

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Cindy Billingsley

Cindy Billingsley Contemporary Ceramic sculptures on Ceramics Now

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Art should come from the heart of the artist, it should engage the audience, it should connect with the community, it should start a dialog, a debate. It should get people to look at things in a way they have not thought of, or to see what they have looked at but not really seen. Art has to come deeply from the artist, there has to be raw emotion and honesty in the work if it is to connect with people. An Artist paints and sculpts what they know. These are all the reasons I wanted to do a show about Alzheimer’s disease. To start a dialog, to connect, to get people to understand what it is like to have the disease, it is a part of my life, so it is what I know, what I am around. I took those thoughts and feelings and transformed them into visuals to engage my audience.
I speak through paint and clay. Art is a look inside the artist, what I am feeling is transferred into the clay while I am sculpting, Those feelings have to go somewhere. I wanted to tell a story, I wanted you to feel how it is, the frustrations, humor, the compassion and the heartache of having Alzheimer’s disease and for the ones caring for one with this disease.

William Faulkner said it best ~ The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it it moves again since it is life.

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David D. Gilbaugh

David D. Gilbaugh Contemporary Ceramics

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“Through creating and teaching others how to make “Treepots” and “Tectonic Sculptures,” I have dedicated my artistic efforts in ceramics to exploring life and the irony of renewal through death. Trees are the primary subject of my work and human emergence is its’ theme. Through this creative work I engage the interrelationship between humanity and nature. 

I focus on trees because I have a natural love of them from my youth. As a child I spent my summers with my brother roaming the woods of northern Illinois, and as an adolescent I spent them backpacking the forests of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Observing the tree excites my creative expression because it demonstrates the promise of renewal in the events of birth, the processes of aging, and the inevitability and promise of new life through death and decay. In this way life continuously takes on evolved and more beautiful forms through both creation and evolution. Both are proven simultaneously in the cycle of life. Evidence of this is shown most brilliantly to me in the life cycle of trees and I speak of it most effectively through my art in the medium of clay.” David Gilbaugh

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Teresa & Helena Jané

Teresa and Helena Jane Contemporary ceramic design

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“10 Years of art and skill. From the idea to action and from this to the final product is a long and arduous journey for four hands.

We create and produce contemporary pieces with message.
Devoutly, seriously, exclusively, dangerously, carefully and - why not say it? - perfectly. Pieces that tell universal or personal stories, sad or happy ones, with horror by the easy effect, the déjà vu or the vain brightness.
Common denominator is almost always the ceramic and the pursuit of happy marriage between tradition and innovation.
Playing with fire is a tough one …

Those who closely follow this trip: Continue with us!
To those who have just arrived: Welcome!” THJané

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Marianne McGrath

Marianne McGrath Contemporary Ceramics - Ceramics Now Magazine

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“My work is a contemplation on material, process, and object metaphors that juxtaposes the medium of clay with industrial materials to create installations that speak of landscapes lost. Inspired by the landscape of my agrarian childhood home now covered by suburban sprawl, I strive for these works to be spaces and scenarios the viewer can physically or psychologically enter and inhabit, that calls one to pause and witness the result of my consideration of the changing landscapes that surround us.

The resulting works are entities that are symbiotic yet impossible, balancing what can be seen now, and was seen before. These works speak of the human idea and need of home, and the necessary yet chaotic change that rural and suburban landscapes constantly undergo. They are meant to leave viewers questioning, perhaps considering the role they play in the landscapes that surround them.” Marianne McGrath

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