Beverly Mayeri is a studio artist living in the Bay Area with over 30 years experience as an established ceramic sculptor. She earned a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MA in sculpture at San Francisco State University.
Mayeri works with refined and elegant heads and figures often using meticulously patterned details that allude to the inner life of emotions, thoughts and human frailties. The pieces are painted in washes of acrylic paint. Mayeri’s figures “evoke a richly complicated human presence,”and often “bridge the psychological, the political and the sensuous within one hybrid form.”
What made you choose ceramics as a way of expressing yourself?
Clay is as good as any other medium, it is a material with lots of possibilities but it doesn’t influence my personal perception of art. Sometimes because of its limitations in format, in height, due to the measures of my kiln I have to find other solutions than I used before, but that are technical issues. I have also used other materials like papier maché before but the outcome of my figurines would be the same.
“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
“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
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.