“I make sculptures that are inspired by utopian, experimental communities. The pieces suggest architectural models for utopian experiments. My curiosity stems from the ways in which these communities reflect optimism and, the ways in which they simultaneously reflect failure. Modernist ties to the utopic and Modernist architecture also come into play; recent sculptures in layered acrylic are examples of this interest.
Currently, I am also working on hexagonal structures made of concrete covered cardboard. These pieces are influenced by Brutalist architecture, Corbusier’s machines for living and, most strongly, by Robert Smithson’s slide lecture (1972) on Hotel Palenque to the architectural faculty at the University of Utah.
I’ve been visiting the sites of a number of utopian communities (Drop City (CO), Libre (CO), New Buffalo (NM), the Oneida Community (NY), Fruitlands (MA)…) and I’ve videotaped what remains there. Compiling this video footage and adding off-hand, stop-action animated figurative elements is a related current project. I envision clusters of these various works – the sparkling city, the concrete ruins and the small screen video – creating an environment both visually rich and suggestive of societal energy and entropy.” Susan Meyer
→ Susan Meyer is a special featured artist on Ceramics Now Magazine.
In my recent works I use ceramic sculptures to investigate the elements of ambiguity and dynamic of opposites. Ambiguity is express by the contrast between appearance and reality. Looking at the precise shapes that enclose and contain space gives the impression of solid and massive bodies when they are in fact, surprisingly light and delicate. The dynamic of opposite is express in a way that juxtaposes the precise and controlled building and graphic design of the ceramic work the unpredictable firing technique of “Naked Raku”. In these works I’m dealing with issues such as tensions between polarities, with fragmentation and constructions and with illusions. These concepts are guidelines for my treatment of space in the context of surface-volume relationships. The division of the body surface between white and black, as well as the use of lines softens the shape, simultaneously placing the grid or lines on the edge of the shape, so that they follow the shape, completely dissolve the hard lines. Viewing from different angles, surface and volume are blurred, giving an illusion of flatness. This idea is strengthened and extended by working with pairs or creating a composition of a few units, where new volumes and planes are achieved by way of the lines or grid are virtually joined; the ratio of parts to the whole is changing and two and three dimensions are played against each other in a sophisticated manner.
“My art forms are created from red earthenware using hand built processes of stretching, altering and joining slabs of clay. While the clay is still workable, shapes, coils and other features are incorporated. My vessels use a three-sided form as a consistent point of departure and I challenge myself by creating each piece uniquely, developing patterns or referencing nature or an historical style. Faux forms such as pitchers give the viewer an added delight where distinct surface treatments distinguish two views. The contrast of clay and glaze is important to my expression as it draws attention to shapes, patterns and rich textures. I enjoy creating works that can be appreciated visually as well used functionally.” Barbara Fehrs
Owner of a Cramic Studio in Jaffa, Israel, Shamai Gibsh’s activities include wheel throwing, hand building and sculpturing. My ceramic works are focused on esthetic designs. Techniques include: Saggar firings of objects covered with terra sigillata and terra sigillata printing, reduction, Raku and oxidation.
I get inspiration from my environment and surrounding. Jaffa, an 10,000 years old port city a part of Tel-Aviv in Israel - a very old and full of history with its colors and textures, unique architecture and multinational has a big influence on me. Typically I burnish and cover with terra sigilata, at times I use copper and soluble salts (Metal chlorides like silver, gold, cobalt), and saggar fired inside clay vessels with organic materials typically pine needles.
For the last 11 years I’ve worked every summer at the Harvard ceramic Studio. My sculptural work an been inspired by the life in israel, the political situation in Israel, as well as my recent traveling to China and Korea. There I took a path of a single 3 dimensional object instead of using multiple objects like in my “wall” Aestela exhibition. Each one of these sculpture represents a wall-barrier.
Natalia Dias garaduated in 2009 with a 1st class hons degree in Ceramics from Cardiff School of Art and Design and she is already considered one of the most exciting up and coming Ceramic artists in the UK today. Her CV includes a gold medal for Craft and Design at the National Eisteddfod of Wales 2010, 1st prize winner for ceramic and glass at the 2007 Welcome trust competition Design4Science, work sold to the Aberystwyth University ceramic collection which is the biggest and most important in Wales, work published in the international Lark Books 2009 edition “500 ceramic sculptures”, and numerous exhibitions in London and all over the UK. Her practice focuses on Alchemy, nature, love and the sublime.
“My work is my own language. I sculpt metaphorically the way that I see and feel things, intending to project the viewer to a dreamscape of sensuality and magic realism. This recent body of work is an allegory to the human condition, the Alchemical journey that an individual takes from birth to death in search of harmony and which can be manifest through Love.
“Love is a way of transforming the ephemeral into eternal”.
The principal thing is not the creation of imaginary worlds or beings but the discovery of the mysterious relationship between man and his circumstances.
In my work I intend to express the brittle transiency of life and its humble beauty. The pure fact of matter from the minute to the infinite and its eternal ephemera. The processes that I use are mostly handbuild and castind, sometimes transfers and lustres are applied but I also find very exciting to experiment with assembling ceramics and other materials.
My work is quite concept and process based, most of the sculptures tell a tale or a critique by themselves but I love to create with them narratives and otherworlds through installation, where people can step into their imagination and my own.” Natalia Dias
“My current work, a series called, “Dominance and Affection” revolves around the exploration of this duality as it can be seen in the relationship that exists between humans and the rest of the natural world. In today’s increasingly nature deprived society our most intimate connection tends to be with plants and animals that we ourselves have drastically altered through the process of domestication. We have turned wild animals into docile and sweet natured pets as we have selected for tameness helping the animal to evolve in a manner that has been most beneficial to us. We have removed these creatures from the wild to give us unconditional love and eliminate our loneliness, to amuse us, and to assist us in our day to day activities, but this comes at the expense of their own freedom to exist in their natural environment. Cats in today’s society, more often then not, live entire lives with their feet never once touching grass as they chase catnip infused fabric mice and sleep in sunlit windowsills while the birds chattering outside remain just beyond their grasp. Although strong love and a desire to protect are at the heart of this captivity, the practice of keeping animals strictly indoors surely has its physical and psychological detriments. Dogs, a species which exhibits amazing variety have been shaped by humans to custom fit our specific needs whether it be herding cattle or sniffing out bombs in a crowded airport. It’s amazing to think that the drastic visual disparity between the Chihuahua and the Great Dane is due entirely to human intervention and selective breeding. Monkey’s are taken from their mothers, diapered and given a surrogate which is usually a stuffed animal to cling to for maternal comfort in the terrifying transition from jungle to cage. Fighting crickets in some societies have been so revered that, upon their deaths, have had elaborate and lavish funeral ceremonies in their honor. However, they are fought in much the same ways that cocks have been fought, often to the death of the loser. It is this reverence existing side by side with complete control that I am interested in illustrating in my work. For no amount of love and affection lavished upon these creatures will erase the fact that the success of the relationship lies in our complete domination over all aspects of their existence.” Bethany Krull
Amanda Simmons makes kiln formed and cameo engraved glass vessels - tall, sculptural, thin walled columns - from her studio in Corsock. She is fascinated in the forms created by gravity within the kiln, the vessels becoming more complex as she perfects the slumping method. She has worked with glass for the past 9 years, studying at Central St Martin’s School of Art & Design in London, before re-locating to Dumfries & Galloway in 2005.
She combines these techniques with her interest in making marks in glass with diamond point engraving and a diamond wheel lathe. Her work involves many processes of firing, coldworking (working with diamond tools to shape and smooth) and sandblasting. She recently exhibited at the Crafts Council show for contemporary applied arts, COLLECT with Craftscotland and has since become a member of Contemporary Applied Arts in London. A winner of the Gold Award for Innovation, Creativity and potential to export at Origin 2010, she has just returned from a research trip to investigate the applied arts market on the East and West coast of USA funded by the Crafts Council and Uk Trade & Investment.
A keen supporter of the contemporary craft scene, she has just been selected to become the Creative Business Advisor (for Crafts) by Dumfries & Galloway Council, to stimulate, strengthen and support the creative industries sector across the region.
Dark, somber and foreboding, Arthur Gonzalez’s works encourage serious deliberation and reflection on the relationship between personal concerns and world issues. Raw in form, lacking in smoothness and rough in finish, the ceramic sculptures give glimpses of a conversation or a contemplation in progress. Gonzalez’s creations of ceramic and found objects reveal visions and feelings that are not polished but ongoing processes of gyrating thoughts and churning emotions that threaten to erupt into reality and consciousness to defy the fantasy of a peaceful experience.
Aesthetically, his work balances between painting and sculpture, clay figures with blown glass, and horsehair and natural sponges. The understanding that these elements are not “found objects” or even mixed media but closer to the ideas of “material” by Joseph Beays. The figures are a devise to trigger our need to see “narrative” which is a support system for the symbols and the material. These pieces are constructed in such a manner that some pieces are literally and metaphorically in balance with a degree of fulcrum-like equation. Consequently, there is a symbiotic relationship, the sculpture becomes a metaphor for the dialogue and the dialogue is ushered in by the sculpture.
Arthur Gonzalez received his MFA degree at the University of California at Davis. He studied under Robert Arneson. Manuel Neri and Wayne Thiebaud. He is an internationally exhibited artist with over 35 one-person shows in the last 25 years. He has received many awards, including two Virginia Groot Foundation awards,and an unprecedented four-time recipient of the National Endowment of the Arts award. He is a tenured professor at the California College of the Arts in Oakland, He also has been awarded many residencies including the Pilchuck Glass School, and the Tainan University of Art in Taiwan. Gonzalez advises his students to rid themselves of the process normally associated with ceramics, get past things that are supposedly bad technique (like epoxy in cracks), colve problems creatively and remember spirit when making work.
Chris Riccardo received his BFA in sculpture from the College of Fine Arts at Boston University.
In 1995, Chris opened his own commercial bronze casting foundry, RDK Studios in West Palm Beach, FL. A few years later, he began teaching figurative sculpture at the Armory Art Center. Shortly after he decided to sell his foundry and concentrate on his work and teaching. In 2007, Chris was named the Director of the Sculpture Department and Foundry Manager. He set up a small foundry at the Armory and began teaching the fine art of bronze casting.
For a number of year his work dealt with the figure in bronze. Recently, he has started to work less in bronze and more in clay. His figures are one of a kind, fired clay with underglazes. For years his color palette was that of the limited bronze patina finishes. Working in clay has opened up new doors to his work with the unlimited color palette available with glazes. He is currently represented by the Mindy Solomon gallery in St. Petersburg, FL.
“They point and laugh, tease and ridicule all the while unaware of the consequences. As important as play is to our development as adults, what effect does play have on those who cannot participate in the traditional sense of the word? Consequences comments on the epidemic of childhood obesity in our country and how the disease affects our children’s ability to play, leading to low-self esteem, inability to interact and work with others and possible future psychological abnormalities. It is these abnormalities that have been the focus of my recent work, starting with my series entitled: Mugz: American Heroes. The pieces in Mugz are taken from police blotter mug shots and the accused crimes are woven into their portraits. Consequences takes this idea one step further and explores the idea of how these people end up in front of the authority’s camera.” Chris Riccardo
“A vessel has as its reference its own stylistic history and the function. To conserve, or serve out or to present a certain content, is an orientation towards basic human needs. The necessity of producing the form in order to protect contents, meets up with the need to express oneself and to consecrate things and attribute a value to them. From the outset vessels were always designed. The forms emerged from out of the technical capabilities, the practical necessities and a sense for rituals. Rituals are the source of civilization and culture. They bestow a form upon what is lacking in design. A shared meaning develops in them, which goes above and beyond what is merely necessary to life and relates towards what is sublime and greater. From the need to represent and pay homage to this, all art has developed. The rituals have changed, civilization has brought forth many flowers, art is ever the mirror. The manufacture of vessels is a self-evident cultural technique for all of mankind, and analogue to the role of the figure in sculpture, we can maintain that the ritual is the concrete opposite of the vessel.
And so the „vessel“ can today be a theme, in which function and ritual, our own history and the future may be reflected. Do rituals relate to something sublime? Can they create a shared meaning? What sort of a function do vessels have today?”
“In the original axiom the form follows the function, as the shape which corresponds to the purpose. The functionality in this work is not related to the potential of a thing to be useful, but rather to the logic involved in its manufacture. The necessary work steps to make a form mould with which objects can be reproduced in porcelain, are subject to specific preconditions. A sort of three dimensional stereotype has to be made in plaster, which forms a closed volume, or receptacle for the liquid porcelain. The usually many-pieced stereotypes must then be capable of being taken apart, so that the model around which they have arisen, and subsequently the reproduced object shall not be damaged. I interrupt this process before it is finished and use the stereotype incompletely. The function of (pouring) the form is extended. As a fragment it becomes part of the object and forms a threshold, a border, like the frame which separates the picture from the wall.” Johannes Nagel
“Things that are completely perfect and things that are completely broken appear to be in two opposite conditions, yet two conditions are the same concept as a form of completion. There is no movement in these two conditions. The waxing and the waning moon contain an expectation of completion whether it is going to be the start or the end. We are seeing the moon at the same time we are seeing our perception of time or whatever it is, we see something progressing. To some my work may appear to be imperfect because perfection contains only one message which is clearly defined by the maker. My attempt is to create the condition of progress in my work. Something ambiguous, unsettled and imaginative so that the user of my work sees many different aspects from the object.”
“My preference of choosing types of clay when making white ware is the dark and coarse clay most of the time. The whiteness acts as a membrane or a veil. The hints of the true nature of the material appear slightly on the surface. Dark clay which consists of many impurities induces strong chemical changes in heat and the trace of events remains under the veil when it cools down. White, on the other hand, is more stable because of its purity. It is already settled and has a feeling of “stillness”.
Superficially my work appears to be quiet in white. It does not show the rawness of Mother Nature directly. A symbolic figure always looks more perfect than the actual person he/she is. Imagination and fantasy always reinforce the imperfection and achieve the perfection with its own originality. Therefore the completion of my work is done by the viewers. My work is a creation on its own.”