Tim Rowan was born in 1967 in New York City and grew up in Connecticut, along the shore of Long Island Sound. His art education began during college, receiving a BFA from The State University of New York at New Paltz before journeying to Japan for 2 years to apprentice with ceramic artist Ryuichi Kakurezaki. Upon his return he worked briefly in studios in Massachusetts and New York before receiving his MFA from Pennsylvania State University.
He established his kiln and studio deep in the woods of the Hudson Valley in 2000, where he lives with his wife and son. His work has been represented in solo and group exhibitions internationally, most recently having solo shows at Yufuku Gallery in Tokyo, Japan and Cavin-Morris Gallery, in New York City. In September, 2013, Tim Rowans ceramic sculptures will be represented in a solo exhibition at Lacoste Gallery, in Concord, Massachusetts.
Rowans’ work is made, primarily, from native clay, direct from the earth and unprocessed. He works with geologists to locate local clay deposits and hand-digs selected sections of earth. The “impurities” in the clay are left to reveal themselves, upon sculpting and firing. The forms are slowly constructed from layers, built up over days and weeks, then hand-carved. They are fired for seven days and nights in a woodfueled kiln. No glaze is applied; the surface textures and colors are the result of the interaction of the clay, fly-ash, coals and fire.
Matthew Harris & Tim Rowan exhibition / Erskine, Hall & Coe, London February 20 - March 20, 2013
An exhibition of works on paper by Matthew Harris and ceramics by Tim Rowan.
Matthew Harris’ work on paper has been shown in many group and solo exhibitions throughout the U.K, Europe, Japan and the U.S. As drawings they are made to be seen in their own right but also to act as starting points or ‘cartoons’ for larger works that are made using dyed and painted cloth. Working primarily from things seen, the drawings recall, interpret and explore imagery, improvising around a given theme. Matthew Harris lives and works in Stroud, Gloucestershire.
Tim Rowan was born in New York City and grew up in Connecticut along the shore of Long Island Sound. His art education began during college, receiving a BFA from The State University of New York at New Paltz before journeying to Japan for 2 years to apprentice with ceramic artist Ryuichi Kakurezaki. Upon his return he worked briefly in studios in Massachusetts and New York before receiving his MFA from The Pennsylvania State University. In 2000 he established his kiln and studio deep in the woods of the Hudson Valley.
"The works in this exhibition have all been completed over the past two years. They are made, primarily, from native clay. This is direct from the earth and unprocessed as opposed to industrially manufactured clay bodies. The forms are slowly constructed from layers, built up over days and weeks then carved. They are fired for seven days and nights in a wood fuelled kiln. No glaze is applied; the surface textures and colours are the result of the interaction of the clay, fly-ash, coals and fire.
I am constantly building on previous work – just as individual pieces evolve in the process of making, the body of work as a whole does as well. Most of my work develops from the process of making, firing, and arranging. While I may have images in my head of some specific things I have seen, for instance the remnants of an old quarry derrick abandoned in the woods near my home, once I start making, new forms emerge. There is a search and discovery.
I am particularly drawn to objects in various states of decay – either through use over time such as tools or the effects of the “elements”. Everything is in a constant state of flux. These are merely markers of a particular time and place.
It is only when I am fully engaged in the making – that the forms present themselves. There is an intuitive process of discovery – of wondering, of noticing, of physically or intellectually feeling the forms. I work on many pieces at once to enable me to become lost in the process - freely moving from one form to another. There is a complete acceptance in the process. Faith. That is the guide. We work together, informing and reacting to each other.
There are four distinct series in this body of work. The sculptures are the most ambiguous and poetic for me. Drawn from a multitude of sources, industrial detritus, tools and abstracting the fragments of a vessel. The vessels are rooted in more of a pottery vernacular. They are there to nourish. We are comforted. We have a sense of place. The cups are individual intimate moments. Each one is a separate story. Held. Caressed. Nourishment. Life-affirming. The boxes may be urns. Shelters. Forced to touch in order to experience the inside. Containment. Security. Protect me. What is revealed?
The American sculptor Tim Rowan’s personal quietude belies the depth and activity of his process. He allows his work to be his voice but sometimes this leaves much to the perceptions of the viewer. The work often depends on the viewer not only to intellectually grasp it but to intuit it as well. The Japanese aesthetic of Yugen or mysterious essence is an important part of his presentation. This work not only occupies gallery space but it also has a placement in the context of his studio and land. When you see his work in its birthplace you realize you are standing in the presence of one of the world’s great Poets of Place.
Tim Rowan’s work does not refer directly to the history of traditional Western ceramics. Of course aspects of all ceramic sculpture processes are universal but his work does not travel to us out of an evolution of Western form and surface techniques. By this token they barely travel out of Japanese form either, though there are parts of the process that refer to it obliquely; firing technique and flame markings for example. But his cups are not chawan, and his sculpture does not quote Bizen form. His urns are not mizusashi. If there are any references at all to the work of his teacher, Ryuichi Kakurezaki, they come from Rowan’s responding to that work despite the Japanese legacy that work comes from. When you look closely at Tim Rowan’s abstract pieces the implications of his freeform place in history come home to roost. You can compare his colors perhaps, his textures perhaps, his melted ash perhaps, but his forms are his alone. They are not utilitarian objects trying to break free from tradition. They are however, utilitarian to the eye and the soul, used in aesthetic contemplation and the cerebral and ephemeral pleasures therein. He is saying new things in an ancient language.
I am not sure I would label Rowan as anything but a Contemporary Artist. His expansion to found and shaped stone forms extend his ceramic vocabulary. He is a Minimalist but that is more a description of his affect than of any philosophical viewpoint. The tension in his pieces is not minimal. His work covers power with a veneer of control and calm; a dangerous directed power. It seethes. The spikes on his cups or in his bowls, the cracking and splitting of his geode-like forms whether ceramic or metal, reveal mineral turmoil and convey a universe that can be ominous and/or aggressive even in its quietest moments. He creates a geological ethnography with objects that have resonances beyond the membrane of our ordinary aesthetic recognition.