Ceramics Now Magazine: You are presenting yourself as a sculptor even though you have a BFA in Ceramics. What are you currently working on?
Jenni Ward: Although I’ve been educated in all aspects of ceramics; pottery, functional hand-building or sculpture, I’ve chosen to focus on abstract sculptural ceramics. I feel that if I say I’m a ceramicist, people either don’t know what I’m talking about or they assume I throw pots, so I feel that introducing myself as a sculptor who works with clay is a more precise description of the work I create. Right now I’m working with organic forms that have holes cut into them and those forms have other ceramics pieces that are trapped inside. This process of trapping forms has manifested itself into multiple series of work. I’m conceptually playing with the balance between trapping and protecting an object and simultaneously exploring abstract ways to express that in clay.
Nest Series IV, 2010, ceramic & high temperature, wire, 12” x 10” 8” - View her works
What triggered the passion for ceramics in you?
I have always worked with clay, my parents still have the first coil pot I made as a kid and I just never stopped working with clay. I was lucky enough to of had an in depth ceramics program in my high school. That exposure gave me the experience to explore clay and know that it was going to be my focus at the university level. I also really love the process of working with clay; each stage that you go through from a soft malleable material to a fired finished piece offers the chance that everything can go wrong at any step in the process. Having the ability to balance control over the clay and letting what happens happen is always a battle for me that I’m very attracted to. I’m constantly learning new techniques or possibilities with clay whether it’s through taking a workshop or seeing another artist at work. Clay is a very basic, primitive material that can be used in such varied and technological ways; it’s a constant learning process.
Ceramics Now Magazine: The versatility of your work is very inspiring and makes the viewer ask himself whether he should play with your works or just to admire their universe. When did you begin to create such intricate pieces?
Suzanne Stumpf: Thank you for your kind words. I began to create interactive sculptural pieces about 7-8 years ago, after I had been working in clay for about about three years or so. From the outset, drawing the audience in to touch and explore has always been a goal. But also, I have intended for each work to have its own strong essence that invites contemplation/reflection.
Modularity and interactivity are two main characteristics of your work. How much time does it take to complete a new work? Do you make many sketches?
My interactive sculptures generally take many weeks. The germination of an idea and realization of each work can also be a lengthy process, particularly when there are complicated construction or even “engineering” issues involved. I can sometimes spend a couple of months in the “head-scratching” stage and work on other projects while I sort out the steps and best approaches. I do keep a notebook with sketches and notes, but I do not personally find it easy to translate some of these projects onto the page. With a fairly good aptitude for spatial relations, I hold much of the planning in my head initially. Because I build primarily in porcelain, extremely slow drying is key — I cannot emphasize this enough. And, of course, this also adds to an already long creation process.
Spike, 2008, 5.5”h x 8”w x 3” d, wheelthrown and altered porcelain with handbuilt components; black slip and shellac resist; oxidation fired to cone 10 - View her works
Some of your works consist in multi-component pieces that, put together, metamorphose each time in different compositions. Do your Interactive Sculptures illustrate the ludic dimension of art? How important is this element for you?
My answer depends on the tenor of the word “ludic”. Although the mere invitation to rearrange components may seem a playful act and some of my sculptures may even possess qualities of games, the interaction by the audience has never seemed aimless to me. To the contrary, I witness people being extremely thoughtful about what they are creating as they rearrange components. The idea with these works is that there are nearly innumerable permutations that the viewer can create, all of which will reveal different aspects of the sculpture’s essence for contemplation.
Ceramics Now Magazine: You are both a painter and a ceramic artist; is one medium closer to you than another?
Cindy Billingsley: Both mediums have equal places in my heart. It mainly depends on the subject or idea I have, clay is sometimes better at conveying my passion or idea then paint is. There is nothing like the feel of clay in hand. I can say in Ceramics what I can not with paint. Clay is felt with all, the eyes, hands and the heart. No other medium can do this. Clay comes from the earth and has that feeling of being alive if sculptures right. If you look closely at a ceramic sculpture you can see the finger marks, the hand prints — it is made by the hand and touch of the artist.
I love in clay that, as an artist, I can take that lump of clay and make it into something magical, something others can touch and see the passion I had for my idea. This is what drew me to clay as my medium.
Chamber Nautlius, 2005, 15” x 18” x 9”, raku clay, hand built solid, hollowed for firing, low fired, cold finish acrylic and wax - View her works
There is a visible fascination for the world of animals reflected in your work; where does this interest come from? Tell us more about the subjects you explore.
Since childhood I have had and felt a closeness with animals. I have lived in the company of animals more than in the company of people. So naturally, I would follow that path with my art. In Ceramics I could finally convey the gesture and mood of an animal with the strokes of the clay without a lot of detail. I have always been more interested in capturing the spirit of an animal or its essence than making an exact model of an animal. Clay freed me up to be able to do this, with quick clay marks here, and strokes of clay there. Clay has that wonderful freedom to it. And Clay sometimes has it’s own ideas about how a piece will come about, that I might not have thought of until I was in the middle of sculpting it. I am drawn to the less familiar animals in my sculptures, like the blue ring octopus, Okapi or fruit bats. These animals fascinate me. Trying to make clay appear like soft fur is the challenge and the fun, like with my Koala sculpture.
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.
“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
“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
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
“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
Andrew Barton: Final Frontier / SODA, Istanbul, Turkey March 1 - April 14, 2012
SODA is pleased to announce “Final Frontier”, the first solo show of internationally renowned sculptor Andrew Barton. The exhibit consists of space helmets from three major religions. The expanse of religion to our final frontier, space. Expressing a dystopian future of possible religious conflict in the heavens.
Andrew Barton was born in 1970 London, England. MFA from The Oslo National Academy of the Arts (KHiO). Male fertility, non-loving sex, violence and cannibalism were reoccurring themes in Barton`s work from the end of the 90`s. Barton`s work then took a new direction focusing on the torso or body fragment in combination with a foreign object or abstract shape, dealing with bodily transformations and meditative states of being. His current work deals with industrial products from dystopian futures; space helmets designed for religious expansion in space, and bomb suits tailored for the mundane acts of shopping and child`s play in a future society gone bad.
SODA is a contemporary art and design space founded in Istanbul in January 2010. SODA focuses on artists and designers using different materials and medias from various disciplines and supports contemporary art jewellery, which is a globally rising trend. SODA presents artists and designers distinctive in their field and examples of contemporary movements to audiences that are open to innovation and aims to introduce a new perspective to collectors.
Gallery Hours: Monday to Saturday between 11am and 7pm.
Melissa Stern: The Talking Cure / Fetherston Gallery, Seattle, USA March 9 – April 7, 2012
Artist Reception: Thursday, March 29, 5.00 – 8.00 pm
The Fetherston Gallery is proud to present “The Talking Cure” exhibition, by New York artist Melissa Stern, a groundbreaking interactive art exhibition integrating sculpture, contemporary literature, online audio and Smartphone technology.
Smartphone Meets Sculpture “The Talking Cure” exhibition consists of ten of Stern’s sculptures each accompanied by an interactive audio track created by one of ten literary collaborators. Stern’s sculptures, fabricated figures combining mixed materials and found objects, with deeply drawn surfaces, possess an abundance of personality. Stern has collaborated with ten contemporary writers - poets, novelist, screenwriters, and playwrights - to each choose a sculpture and write his or her monologue of the goings on in the sculpture’s mind. The monologues are transformed into audio recordings, stored “in the cloud,” and triggered via a QR tag imbedded in the sculpture. When the viewer points a Smartphone, Blackberry or I-Phone at the QR tag it will trigger audio to hear the inner voice of the sculpture.
Interactive Multimedia in the Manner of Sigmund Freud The viewer will also have the opportunity to record his or her own imagined monologue for the sculpture. These recording will be available for playback, creating an added interactive dimension to the work. Viewers will be creators as well as receivers of the back-story for each sculpture; the exhibition takes its title from Sigmund Freud’s original name for the practice of psychoanalysis.
Melissa Stern has worked in both sculpture and drawings for over twenty years, living and exhibiting in California, Europe, and New York City. Her work is featured in a number of prominent corporate and museum collections including Dow Jones, JP Morgan, The Arkansas Art Center and the Kohler Corporation, where she was an artist-in-residence. She has also had residences at the Serenbe Institute outside of Atlanta Ga. and at The Washington School of Glass in Washington DC. Her artwork was has been featured in Trans- Ceramic Art, 500 Figures in Clay, and American Illustration 26 – The Best American Illustrations of 2007.
“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
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.
“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
"Everyone, even animals and plants, accustoms to new environments and new circumstances as time goes by. In order to understand and get used to a new environment, one only needs time. My previous work was about figuring out my identity, understanding different cultures and establishing myself in new environments (the transition from Korea to America). I am now in a constant process of adjusting new situations as a female artist, a wife and further more - as a mom. I want to present my Korean cultural background through new objects that illustrate the natural and architectural landscape." Hae-Jung Lee
Korean born Haejung Lee received her first Master of Fine Art concentrating on ceramics at Kyung Hee University in South Korea in 2002 and a second master’s degree in ceramics at Louisiana State University in 2008. She has been an Artist-in-residence at The Banff Centre in Canada and at Guldagergård-International Ceramic Research Center in Denmark in 2003 and 2004. She presents her work internationally and has been awarded several remarkable prizes such as best of show, award of distinction, silver prize as well as others in both Korea and USA. In summer 2009 she participated in the 5th World Ceramic Biannual Show Korea (CEBIKO) and directed the exhibition “Affinity” which also included many American ceramic artists.