Interview with Ian F. Thomas, Ceramic Installation - October 2011

Interview with ceramic artist Ian F. Thomas - Ceramic Installation, October 2011

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→ The full interview is featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue One, Winter 2011-2012.

Ceramics Now Magazine
: You are a very creative artist, working with large scale installations, ceramic objects, sculptures, vessels and various drawings. When do you have time to transpose all your emotions and ideas into them?

Ian F. Thomas: Thank you. I obsess about ideas. My methodology for making, for creating, has me developing many works at the same time, not just in the beginning phases, the thought process, but also during the construction phase. Mold making, throwing, painting, welding, drawing, functional, non-functional—everything that happens, it all develops simultaneously. I enjoy working right up to, and, sometimes, past my limit. I view making work on all of these different platforms, using different materials, and incorporating as many ideas as I can ideas in the same way that I see conversations. Each day I have vastly different types of conversations with many different people; from humorous to serious, political to chit chat and minutiae. When an idea surfaces, the process may demand a particular size, finish, or material. Following the concept and its needs supersedes the necessity of conforming to a particular style or material. 

As a father of two, husband and professor, it is difficult to manage time. My wife, Lori, who is not an artist, has an amazing tolerance for the creatively obsessed mind. If it were not for her support, I would never find the time to work on so many projects. Working with clay, I can take advantage of the timing/drying constraints, and toggle between works, maximizing my available studio time. I have also recently taken on an assistant, Eli Blasko, to help better manage my time so that I can focus more in the studio.

Ian F Thomas Contemporary Ceramic Installation Art

Di-analytic Variables - View Ian F. Thomas’ works
Wheel-thrown, altered, hand-built, earthenware, electric fired cone 02, steel, paint, gold leaf / 38x37x30 inches, 40 lbs

How do you see this relationship between idea/intuition and the final work itself? Is it always continuous or sometimes gap comes through?

The final work is an entity all of its own. An idea starts the work and then intuition supports that idea during the development of the piece. I keep true to a cautious respect for the moment. While I’m in the process of working, my intuition may shift the work’s original intentions, or trigger a new idea(s) that can rearrange the work while I’m still in the process of making it. My idea can fluctuate as much as the physical object I’m making. Using this method, gaps occurs naturally and when that happens, I embrace that.

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Ian F. Thomas: Di-analytic Variables, Wheel-thrown, altered, hand-built, earthenware, electric fired cone 02, steel, paint, gold leaf / 38x37x30 inches, 40 lbs

Ian F. Thomas: Di-analytic Variables, Wheel-thrown, altered, hand-built, earthenware, electric fired cone 02, steel, paint, gold leaf / 38x37x30 inches, 40 lbs

Ian F. Thomas: Di-analytic Variables, detail, Slab-built earthenware, electric fired cone 02, gold leaf

Ian F. Thomas: Di-analytic Variables, detail, Slab-built earthenware, electric fired cone 02, gold leaf

Ian F. Thomas: The Eagle and the Arrow, interior detail, Plastic army men, arrows, paint, 4 inches thick

Ian F. Thomas: The Eagle and the Arrow, interior detail, Plastic army men, arrows, paint, 4 inches thick

Ian F. Thomas: The Eagle and the Arrow, Wheel-thrown porcelain, slip, gas fired cone 6, graphite, image transfer, arrows, elementary school chair, gilded brick kiln stilt, paint / 40x16x16 inches, 45 lbs

Ian F. Thomas: The Eagle and the Arrow, Wheel-thrown porcelain, slip, gas fired cone 6, graphite, image transfer, arrows, elementary school chair, gilded brick kiln stilt, paint / 40x16x16 inches, 45 lbs

Ian F. Thomas: Buttoning Buttons and Loosening Teeth, Wheel-thrown platter, solid-carved/hollowed tooth, earthenware, electric fired cone 02, paint, graphite, string, vintage doorknob / 50x20x8 inches, 12lbs

Ian F. Thomas: Buttoning Buttons and Loosening Teeth, Wheel-thrown platter, solid-carved/hollowed tooth, earthenware, electric fired cone 02, paint, graphite, string, vintage doorknob / 50x20x8 inches, 12lbs

Ian F. Thomas: Turbulent Continuity, Digital Projection of a slip-cast Chinese vase (American made mold), 18 out-of-date educational books, slab-built earthenware, string, paint

Ian F. Thomas: Turbulent Continuity, Digital Projection of a slip-cast Chinese vase (American made mold), 18 out-of-date educational books, slab-built earthenware, string, paint

Ian F. Thomas: Compensation, Slab-built and molded earthenware, slip, electric fired cone 02, paint, image transfer, charcoal / 18x8x8 inches, 7lbs

Ian F. Thomas: Compensation, Slab-built and molded earthenware, slip, electric fired cone 02, paint, image transfer, charcoal / 18x8x8 inches, 7lbs

Ian F. Thomas

Ian F. Thomas' profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View his works

“I have been making art objects for most of my life and I have found that I have a greater understanding of my work after making it.  There is a mystery to things that people make.  I choose the process of art-making as a medium to pose questions about my relationships with (art) objects, people and myself.  Each time I start a work, regardless of the known impetus, the content of the work changes into something I didn’t previously know.  I have been enjoying this unpredictability, lending my creative process to my intuition.

In the spectrum of communication I find making objects to be an efficient vehicle. I find myself engaged with object making in a similar way a writer is engaged with text. For me, objects and their relationship with their surroundings manifest into a language in itself. As in the installation  “Weather Underground” I was interested in the site-specificity of the space I was working in, which used to be a classroom.  Working in an intuitive mode without an intended outcome, I knew the materials I wanted to use and allowed the piece to develop through me.  It was not until later that I came to the realization that the work was about me revisiting my own experiences of academia. 

I have considered my work to be a window into my subconscious. After completing this work, it allowed me to question the original idea, the process of making it and the actual outcome, and through the work I am able to gain a better understand of its possible meaning and message.  The practice of art is now a renewed engagement with my personal history.  The visceral understanding that it grants my senses is as pleasurable as the beauty of the produced object.  It is not my intent for the view to grasp these specific notions but to come to the work with their personal histories and to derive a visceral understanding through their senses.” Ian F. Thomas

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