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ceramic artist

Brian Kakas

Brian Kakas Contemporary ceramic artist

Brian Kakas' profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View his works

Appropriate means of creatively adapting to continual changes have been expressed though practices of art, architecture, science and technology. In this new body of ceramic works, entitled “Tectonic Perceptions”, the intentions are incorporating methodologies and theories from the mentioned practices to create a “new nature” in structural design for ceramic objects. The pieces seek to celebrate the versatility of clay with an aim of fostering new realizations of architectural space. Travels throughout Asia and an array of rich cultural experiences in China have brought about new realizations within the artist’s mind and perceptions of cultural identity, history and space.

These relationships have allowed the artist to explore relationships between the strong elements of tradition and modern identities rapidly evolving around the world. Explorations of these interrelationships and the intentions of the maker and his material have led to the new structural ceramic designs. Through his aspired process of invention, it is the artist’s intent to find a natural form by staying true to chosen materials and their inherent properties. The artist is in pursuit of finding and establishing a formal vocabulary that allows sculptural vessels to exhibit qualities of both unique and handcrafted objects of traditional cultures with that of machine made and mass-produced objects of our contemporary society.

Brian Kakas is an Assistant Professor of Ceramics at Northern Michigan University. He received his MFA in ceramics from The University of Notre Dame in 2007.

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  • Brian Kakas: Tectonic Perceptions #9, alternative view, 2010. White stoneware, slab built, 31”H x23”W x 33”L, Cone 9 Reduction

  • Brian Kakas: Tectonic Perceptions – Nautilus Series, Detail image, 2011
    White stoneware, slab built, 32” H x 23”W x 24”L, Anagama Fired

  • Brian Kakas: Tectonic Perceptions #6, 2010
    White stoneware, slab built, 29”H x 26”W x 24”L, Cone 9 Reduction

  • Brian Kakas: Tectonic Perceptions #4, 2010
    White stoneware, slab built, 32”H x 25”W x 23”L, Cone 9 Reduction

  • Brian Kakas: Architectonics – Wing, wall mount, 2011
    White stoneware, slab built, 35”L x 22”W x 15”H, Cone 04 Oxidation

  • Marie T. Hermann

    Marie T. Hermann's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View her works

    “Looking around Marie Torbensdatter Hermann’s most recent exhibition of work, we may well have a similar feeling: that we are in the presence of pots that don’t quite need us. They are just fine on their own, thank you. Poised atop their handmade clay shelves, microcosms like the implacably calm still life paintings of Morandi, or set out in a neat ring on the gallery floor, these ceramic sculptures have a quiet assurance, an ease that belies the difficulty of their own making.

    You almost have to remind yourself that it’s by no means easy to create this sense of completeness. The usual way of doing it is to make objects that are resolutely alien to everyday experience: the abstract geometries of De Stijl, the weird and hermetic object-poems of the Surrealists, the industrial quality of Minimalist sculpture, or the unearthly light and space created by artist James Turrell. While Hermann’s work is influenced by all of these art historical references, she appeals to something more humble and humane than any of them.

    While her commitment to achieving a unified aesthetic impression is total, it seems to me that her greatest interest as an artist comes at the level of the detail. Yes, she knows she must (according to some modernist logic) ‘earn’ the right to create an interesting shape, like a sharp break in the profile of a vase, or a gentle curve in the rim of a plate. For her, these subtle touches have to make sense within an overriding context. There is nothing whimsical about them. But all the same, Hermann infuses these little maneuvers with a great deal of enjoyment – just as the slight sway of a violin or the mournful swell of an oboe might convey the emotion that a composer feels for his own symphony. Hermann’s pots may inhabit worlds of their own, and to that extent they stand proudly and resolutely apart. But through the deft and playful touches that are everywhere in this exhibition, we are let into something very human indeed: something not too far from bliss.” Glenn Adamson, Head of Graduate Studies at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, about Marie T. Hermann’s work.

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  • Marie T. Hermann: You are my weather #C, 2011. Stoneware, 40 x 25 x 13 cm.

  • Marie T. Hermann: Shades of days #B, 2011. Ceramic and thread. 18 x 12 x 7 in.

  • "I always advised my students that the valuable ideas might be in your pockets all the time."

    Tanoue Shinya, Japanese ceramic artist

  • Interview with Arthur Gonzalez, Front-cover of Issue One and Artist of the month - October 2011

    Interview with Arthur Gonzalez, front-cover of Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue One
    Artist of the month, October 2011

    → Subscribe to our monthly newsletter if you want to receive news and interviews with ceramic artists.
    → The full interview with Arthur Gonzalez is featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue One / Winter 2011-2012.

    Ceramics Now Magazine
    : You are one of the most assiduous ceramic artists in the world, with hundreds of exhibitions over more than thirty years. Why did you choose this career path?

    Arthur Gonzalez: If by career path you mean, “why did I choose to be an artist?” I was one of those guys who always knew that they wanted to be an artist. I honestly cannot remember a time that I did not draw. I remember drawing in kindergarten. I took my first oil painting class with my mother at age 7. I identified with being an artist my whole life so the path was “written on the wall” so to speak. Also, times were different thirty years ago when I graduated from UC Davis. The word “career” was subject to interpretation. I remember that all I wanted to do once I graduated was to do whatever I needed to do to keep making art without needing to work a “regular” job. This was a huge factor, because if one wants to make art their whole life they need to be creative in terms of how to do that. As a consequence, I learned how to make a career instead of only making a lot of things.

    Arthur Gonzalez Contemporary Ceramics - Interview Ceramics Now MagazineEverything, 2007, ceramic, glaze, rope, blown glass, ink, epoxy, gold leaf, gut, pollen, 40”x42”x12 - View Arthur Gonzalez’s works

    When did you realize that ceramic art was important for you?

    My relationship with ceramics has always been a double-edged sword, because I originally didn’t identify with ceramics or sculpture. In the beginning, I used clay to make a better painting!

    My formal undergraduate art education at American River College in Sacramento and later California State University was as a photo-realist painter, this was the art movement of the time and all my teachers were photo-realists. I, although formally trained with all the exactitude and precision of a realist, was extremely frustrated. I wanted my paintings to be more expressionistic, spontaneous and “rule breaking”, but the training and dictum of “painting the right way” was so hardwired that I needed to change the very physicality of the painting’s object-ness. I realized that when addressing the white geometric canvas, specifically when the paintbrush approached the edge of the canvas, my gestures would be stilted and choked. I was too intimidated by its rigidity. I remember thinking that if I was too influenced by the edge, then I needed to change that edge.

    Meanwhile, at California State University, at the opposite side of campus from the painting lab, was the ceramic department. Two of the professors there were Peter Vandenberge and Robert Brady, both were UC Davis alumni and former students of Robert Arneson. It was by watching them make their clay sculpture and witnessing the ways that they both treated the clay as a mud that did their bidding, that first attracted me to it. This was an epiphanous moment. I remember thinking that clay was the perfect replacement for canvas on stretcher bars. Upon returning to my studio, I slung a number of clay slabs and stretched them on the floor and then fired them, resulting in “bisque canvases” of non-geometric shapes, like a stack of so many pancakes. Then, using oil paint, I reacted to the silhouette of the shape by painting-in imagery that would co-relate to the swells and dips of the randomly shaped ceramic slabs. In my eyes, clay was a remedy not a historical material.  Ironically, I later dispassionately applied to graduate school at UC Davis to study ceramics sculpture under Robert Arneson knowing that I was competing against real ceramic artists who knew more about clay than slinging slabs, which literally was all I knew! It was those first experiments with oil paintings on ceramic slabs that got me into graduate school. My education of clay as a material didn’t start until my time with Robert Arneson. The one thing that I loved about clay was how I now could make things that could distance me from the confines of oil on canvas and, as a result, lifting the weight of the ‘History of Painting’ off my shoulders. When I thought of ceramics, I didn’t see “History” or “Tradition” or “right and wrong”. In fact, I didn’t even think of it as “ceramics”, I thought of it as clay that you made hard. To me the material was only material, and because I came to it through the back door it represented to me to be absolute freedom, a kind of sanctuary from the rules of painting and, as a result, pure invention.

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  • Interview with Ian Shelly, Ceramic Installation - October 2011

    Interview with ceramic artist Ian Shelly - Ceramic Installation, October 2011

    → Subscribe to our monthly newsletter if you want to receive news and interviews with ceramic artists.
    → The full interview with Ian Shelly is featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue One, Winter 2011-2012.

    Ceramics Now Magazine
    : You’re a very prolific artist, with lots of exhibitions, lectures and workshops being held in the last years. How do you find the time needed for all of this? Do you also teach?

    Ian Shelly: Thank you for the considering me prolific, that is an adjective that has been used before to describe not only the breadth and quantity of what I do and what I call “My” art but a diagnosis that I find most properly describes my unyielding need to make. I don’t know how to make art any other way…never have. I think that the only way to find the time to work “prolifically” is by making the best out of all the other tasks that you do. Be it exhibiting, lecturing, and teaching workshops. All of these moments and all of the moments not making provide us with a unique opportunity to think, plan and daydream. I need my time spent talking about other artists to think of how I am different. I also need my time as a Sunday afternoon mechanic fixing things around the house to remind my brain that my hands like moving this way or that. All of this activity then tells my wallet what kind of clay and glaze I need to use to keep my brain and hands satisfied. My brain still cannot keep up with my hands.
    The teaching that I also do is like a buffet. In some ways it provides me with necessary exercises that a growing artist needs to flourish. It also provides me with a multitude of materials and technologies to further understand the science and dexterity needed for ceramics. I find one of the most helpful aspects of teaching to be the communication development. When I started in education, I couldn’t walk a person through making a paper airplane, and now, through all of the practice I can teach all kinds of different styles of airplanes. Most importantly, I, myself, make a better airplane. This has been very helpful. Inevitably though, if you do too much, like any buffet…it isn’t healthy.

    Ian Shelly Contemporary ceramic installation

    Playtime (detail) - View his works

    Like the system and language of chemistry, your works behave like an equation, trying to connect human relationships. Tell us about the process of constructing a new work, from sketch to firing.

    This is a great question. One that I believe all artists answer differently at different times in their careers and lives. My works attempt to answer relationship equations in the final product but also in the process in which they are made. Like I say in just about every artist statement and writing I do, I see my art making and general studio process as a living, breathing, eating, growing and even more important, a mutating organism. One that is fed helpful amounts of media then distilled and filtered clumsily through screens made of new materials and techniques. Like any healthy science project, random samples are taken to ensure the highest quality of homogenization and communication. At times it is absolutely similar to a chemical equation made of compounds and bonds, but one that is never ending, moving and ultimately insolvable.
    Ian Shelly Contemporary ceramic installationI am sure that we all do things like these in our pursuits to make art. For me, I believe it is important to keep the theme and scenarios of my project in mind. In the case of this work, the themes are systematic and a-systematic routines of study and classification. I think what you may be asking is whether or not I start with sketches and end in a fired ceramic work that installs in a viewing space. Of course I do. However, it rarely follows the paths that I see my colleagues using. Sometimes I wish it did, because I wonder if I would be more productive with someone else’s art routine.
    The journey that my work follows often begins with an accidental gluing of one thing to another and after a very calculated series of profanity and failures, what you see is my work…in all of it’s sticky, gooey, orb-ness.

    What is your present project? Tell us about it.

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