Ellen Schön

Ellen Schon ceramics, Featured artist on Ceramics Now Magazine

Ellen Schön's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View her works

“I have always been interested in the ability of a ceramic vessel to point to something beyond itself—to function as metaphor. Ceramic vessels, physically structured with necks, shoulders, bellies, and feet, can evoke the gesture and anthropomorphized stance of the human body; they also reveal deep aspects of human experience and of the natural world.

My fervent interest in clay vessels has led me to explore new territories in form and surface. Recent work explores three variations on the ceramic vessel form:

The ceramic vessel as a Wellspring or Womb, with possibilities of both fecundity and barrenness;
The vessel as Bottle, whose forms evoke the elongated posture of Cycladic idols and the scarified texture of Yoruba terracotta heads;
The Planet Series explores swirling colored surfaces on rounded orbs, suggesting planets and depths of earthly strata.

These series represent different but related expressive interests. Each piece in a series is part of a continually evolving solution to a set of questions or parameters I have chosen to work within. The parameters, themselves, may change as the series evolve.

Through spontaneous handling of inanimate clay, I attempt to find and breathe life into form. My creative process is grounded in reflective practice—imposing ideas on and listening to the material in cycles of learning. The material directs me as I direct it. We are in a reciprocal relationship.” Ellen Schon

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Francesco Ardini

Francesco Ardini Contemporary Ceramics - Italian ceramic artist featured on Ceramics Now Magazine

Francesco Ardini's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View his works

Francesco Ardini was born in Padua, Italy, and graduated in Landscape Architecture at the IUAV, Venice, in 2011. He discovered ceramics during the study years. Currently works in Padua and Nove.

The vision of reality in Ardini’s studies relates to broken objects, uneven surfaces, the apparent dissolution, the linearity undermined by failure. All these lead to a naturalism where the works provide biological cycles in which the dissolution is always followed by a formal definition.

Francesco Ardini understands the scientific course that begins with Einstein’s relativity, Max Planck’s quantum theory, going on with the Hubble’s discovery of galaxies, to land - in the second half of the twentieth century - within an epistemological revolution that places the possibility/probability above the necessity. Ardini accepts the idea that a large part of reality is not linear, but chaotic, and has a view of a universe development which will end in a cosmic catastrophe. These ideas place Ardini’s work in the sphere of conceptual art.

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David Gallagher

David Gallagher Contemporary ceramic installations

David Gallagher's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View his works

David Gallagher is a ceramic artist from Philadelphia who completed his undergraduate work at the Tyler School of Art-Temple University. He is currently pursuing his Masters of Fine Arts at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.

Research Statement
In our current epoch of ever more rapid invention it becomes paramount to analyze our relationships to the technology we produce. Systems are created on the foundations of existing technology and are tied to the accepted modes of history and the present.  These technologies mediate our experiences with the physical world. We no longer have hundreds of years to determine appropriate uses for the technology we create. In many cases this time frame can be compressed to months or even weeks, with the only criteria for its evaluation being its novelty. These tools we create enter our perception with singularity of purpose, and yet cause repercussions though out our whole cultural existence.

The primary focus of my artistic practice is the systems we create to manage our society. I am constantly investigating our understanding of the physical and psychological environments we construct. Humanity is driven to invent; to create tools that aid in the managing of society’s existence. Our instinctual proclivity to transcend what exists, to constantly refine and redefine our own existence is the central idea that drives my research. My work is a simulation and examination of systems that function within the constructs of social environments. These systems provide a framework for the investigation of the possibilities of context, specific iterations of conventional relationships.

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Elizabeth Shriver

Elizabeth Shriver Ceramics

Elizabeth Shriver's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View her works

“I work with clay to create an array of graceful, sensuous, organic forms. These pieces are made through a variety of hand-building methods such as slab-building, coiling, pinching, and forming with molds. Rarely relying on glaze, I use textures, stains, and colored clay to add visual and tactile interest. I am drawn toward neutral earth tones that complement rather than distract from my intricate sculptural vessels.

The curving lines and interplay of light and shadow in my work generate an illusion of movement, giving each piece an almost lifelike quality. A successful piece is one that begs to be touched as well as explored visually.” Elizabeth Shriver

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Arina Ailincai: IN-SCRIPTED BODY / Art on the Avenue Gallery, Philadelphia

Arina Ailincai IN-SCRIPTED BODY exhibition Art on the Avenue Gallery, Philadelphia - Contemporary romanian ceramics

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

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Jason Hackett

Jason Hackett Contemporary Ceramics - featured on Ceramics Now Magazine

Jason Hackett's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View his works

“I understand the world in an evocative fashion and view my artworks as both physical and philosophical memorials to ‘Closeness’. During the construction of new works in series, I commonly consider ideas such as the value of community and family, the honesty of both gross and tedious labor, and the mysteriousness of the metaphysical.

I primarily construct pieces using my hands and molding methods while also using found manufactured ceramics. Captured materials, images and forms; of man and of machine; from immediate and distant pasts are merged in commemorative context where contemplation defines their functional nature. Individually they are cups, plaques, and cultural icons made in clay. Collectively, they express proximity and distance, material and immaterial, and both the tangible and intangible.” Jason Hackett

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Interview with Kimberly Cook - Artist of the month, May 2012

ARTIST OF THE MONTH, May 2012: Kimberly Cook

/ 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.

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Kimberly Cook Contemporary Ceramics - Interview for Ceramics Now Magazine

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.
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Interview with Teresa & Helena Jané - Spotlight, May 2012

SPOTLIGHT, May 2012: Teresa & Helena Jané

/ 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.

Teresa and Helena Jane Ceramics - Interview Ceramics Now Magazine

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.

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Interview with Debra Fleury - New artist, May 2012

NEW ARTISTS, May 2012: Debra Fleury

/ 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.

Debra Fleury Ceramics - Interview for Ceramics Now Magazine

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.
 

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Patricia Sannit

Patricia Sannit Contemporary Ceramics featured on Ceramics Now Magazine

Patricia Sannit's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View her works

“The impulse to decorate is strong. The push to create a border or impose a structured order on the already beautiful order of the (chaotic) natural world is compelling. Humans have always done so.

My work draws from and responds to visual idioms found throughout human history. Visual languages flow from culture to culture and through time; I explore how the changes of motifs and technologies show development and transformation in societies. I draw from our species’ long and intimate relationship with our surroundings, both natural and man-made. To that end, I use a variety of mostly found and repurposed clays to refer to both the contributions of previous makers in our collective art history and the stratigraphy of the Earth. My work is influenced by archaeology, geology, industry and the commonality of human experience through time and across culture.” Patricia Sannit

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Patricia Sannit received her BA in ceramics, Art History and Norwegian from the University of Minnesota and her MFA from the California College of Arts. She now lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Sannit’s work is influenced by her experiences excavating in the Near East and Ethiopia. Sannit’s most recent project is a large-scale ceramic installation, Citadel, based on an archeological site in Iraq. “I am interested in the story of the earth, our species, and pots. History is manifest in the scarred and worn surface of our planet and in a pot well made and well used.”

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Patricia Sannit: Eroded Poles, 2012, 12”x9”x11”, cast, carved and incised found and reclaimed clays, slip and stain

Patricia Sannit: Eroded Poles, 2012, 12”x9”x11”, cast, carved and incised found and reclaimed clays, slip and stain

Bente Skjøttgaard

Bente Skjottgaard Contemporary Danish Ceramics

Bente Skjøttgaard's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View her works

“The basic elements in my work are the materials: clay and glaze. I enjoy engaging in expressive ceramic experiments that test the boundaries of material and form.
I often take my point of departure in nature’s principles and regularities of form. This results in strange inscrutable sculptural growths and large wild and amorphous nature abstractions that may be both lush and melancholic with an expression of beauty in both growth and decay.” Bente Skjøttgaard

“Bente Skjøttgaard is a ceramist: she was born in 1961. In much the same manner as a runner or an existential philosopher, she is cultivating her material, which is clay overcoated with an application of glaze. She is a master of her field and she is “inside” the clay in the sense that she is challenging herself each and every time she creates a new work. The glazed pieces are constantly becoming larger and more voluminous, with interiors consisting of complicated constructions, as is the case inside a person or an animal, a prehistoric creature or another biological phenomenon. And the beauty cannot be mistaken. It is a kind of primeval nature, but accordingly a nature that is created both from within and from without, in the course of a protracted reciprocal interplay.” Excerpt from “Elements in white”, a text By Erik Steffensen - Professor at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen.

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Interview with Steve Belz - Artist of the month, April 2012

ARTIST OF THE MONTH, April 2012: Steve Belz

/ Read the full interview in Ceramics Now - Issue Two

Ceramics Now Magazine
: You are strengthening your career as a ceramic artist year by year. What was your first contact with ceramics and when did you realize you have a passion for it?

I took a ceramics class in my junior year in college, and that changed my world instantly. I was constantly in the studio. I had worked with wood and metal prior to clay, but it was amazing to find one material that possesses the qualities of many materials. Throughout its various stages, clay is plastic at first, then flexible and strong like wood, then hard like steel. This is over simplified, but basically I love the metamorphic qualities of clay. It is an incredible material that twenty years later, I am still very passionate about.

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Steve Belz Contemporary Ceramics
Assisted Nucleation, 2011, Low fire ceramic, washes, glaze, rubber cord and steel fastener, 20H x 30W x 10D inches - View his works

What is the most difficult part in constructing a new piece? Tell us about your creative process, from sketches to the final display.

I usually work on multiple pieces at one time, so that they feed off of each other as a series. My work is often an amalgamation of forms and details from mostly natural objects and landscapes. I have a lot of natural objects and photographs around my studio. I use these details as a starting point for the forms and surfaces that I create, often manipulating the scale or color of the details that I am interested in. 

I often start by sketching in a notebook to quickly work through ideas, then I move to a large chalkboard for some full scale sketching. My sketches are often covered in words that inform the themes I am working on. Once I can visualize the form I want to create I move on to construction, my favorite part.

The most difficult part of constructing my larger work is managing the appropriate humidity. I allow certain areas to dry enough so that they have strength to support the form, while other areas are wet enough so that I can continue adding more clay. All of this happens while maintaining a smooth gradation of humidity between those areas to avoid cracks. I spend several weeks working on one piece, often jumping between other pieces while I wait for one to dry enough.

I rarely build my work in the position that it will rest. This does two things. It makes it easier to move the piece around to work on it and it keeps the orientation of the object open until the end of the building process. I can have most of the form completed and then cut and dart areas to modify the form. Once the main form is completed I smooth and refine the surface. This step is very meditative for me. It has a rhythm and fluidity that I enjoy.

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Interview with Ruth Power - New artist, April 2012

NEW ARTISTS, April 2012: Ruth Power

/ Read the full interview in Ceramics Now - Issue Two

Ceramics Now Magazine
: You are a very young ceramic artist. When did you discover the potential of this medium? Did school have an important role in directing you on this path?

Ruth Power: Like most artists. makers or craftspeople, I have been interested in art and working with my hands from a very young age. I had a fairly basic art education in secondary school in Ireland (largely based on 2-dimensional drawing work) - quite the antithesis of what we do in third level education. However, I decided that I wanted to attend the National College of Art and Design (Dublin) from a fairly young age and my art teachers in school encouraged me to do so.

The college has a great system, by which everybody does a Core Year in their primary year (four years in total). From here, the student embarks on their first steps towards their professional formation as artists, designers and educators. The student has the opportunity to sample the diverse courses the college has to offer and in turn, discover where their strengths, weaknesses and passions lie.
Many people (such as myself when I began) have no idea what department they wish to pursue when they enter, so this system works really well. Throughout the year, I did a lot of 3D making and intricate work with wire and found objects, so I decided to go into the Ceramics, Glass and Metals Department, specializing in metals. However, when I entered the department I fell in love with ceramics and its diversity. I knew nothing about the material, glazing or mold-making. The only experience I had with clay was when I made a pinch pot in 1993 for Mother’s Day. I painted in neon pink and yellow (which was in vogue at the time!) with ‘Ruth Power, Age 5’ scrawled into the base. I was in instant awe of the abundance of potential of the material, and the infinite amount of creative and scientific exploration that could be done with this ancient medium. Thus, it was only until I was in my second year of college that I discovered the potential of ceramics.

Ruth Power Ceramics, tentacles, sexuality
Breasts (Cephalophilia), 2011, 48cm wide x 42cm long x 14cm deep; porcelain, LED light, cord, plug, wooden box with black paint and flocked interior (Black and white image) - View her works

Your works are debating subjects like censorship, mainstream pornography or sexual repression: did you choose these topics in the hunt for controversy?

I have identified with being a feminist for many years now and these subjects have been of huge importance to me. I had researched and discussed those topics for quite some time before merging them into my artwork, when I was in Third/Fourth Year. I wrote my thesis on a very similar subject (how pornography is influencing mainstream trends). In Second Year, we focused on skills and techniques and thus, did not get the chance to incorporate much of our own expression. It wasn’t until Third Year that we were taking on self directed projects and had the opportunity to entirely immerse ourselves into our own fully developed concepts.

To me personally, the work is not controversial; it is dealing with issues that I believe need to be addressed urgently and discussed more openly. Its just that sexual politics and pornography are not usually deliberated, and the naked body is still taboo in our culture. Moreover, because I have had a considerable interest in such topics for quite some time, any of the initial ‘shock’ factor had been lost on me a long time ago. So, for me, the work was never really controversial (especially since I have an open attitude towards sex, sexuality and the body). It was bringing to light issues that I believe need to be confronted, issues that affect me personally.

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Residence of Growth, Allison Luce at the Zentrum für Keramik-Berlin

By James Romaine

Since its inception in 2005, the Zentrum für Keramik-Berlin has been an oasis of cultural exchange for ceramic artists in one of Europe’s principal artistic centers. Founded by Thomas Hirschler and Kaja Witt, the residency program provides a creative sanctuary in the midst of an exhilarating city where artists from around the world can create artwork stimulated by their surroundings and experiences. Developed after the couple spent time at the Archie Bray foundation in Helena, Montana, the Zentrum für Keramik-Berlin welcomes artists to a city that is, at once, standing in history and bursting into the future.

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