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ceramics

Interview with Liliana Folta

Interview with Liliana Folta / Spotlight
By Ileana Surducan
Published in Ceramics Now Magazine Issue 2

What sparked your interest for ceramics?

I was in college taking painting classes and I wanted to learn sculpture. One day I stopped by the sculpture lab to ask the instructor if I could audit the class. She agreed and handed me a piece of clay. I was amazed at the work of the students. A retired engineer was making intriguing ceramic sculptures. The forms were powerful and provocative. At that moment I thought of how versatile and expressive clay could be to express both powerful and delicate ideas. It was, for me, the medium of infinite possibilities.
Immediately my brain had an explosion of ideas. I fell in love. I realized I could create 3D from some ideas of my paintings. In fact, I ended up sculpting so many pieces during the class that The Art Department awarded me a grant to do a whole semester and also the first solo show ever done by a student in the college.

Liliana Folta Ceramics - An Abstract Poem of Freedom

Liliana Folta: An Abstract Poem of Freedom (detail), 2009, on going traveling/interaction/installation.
> View more works by Liliana Folta

Besides ceramic art, you have also created paintings and murals in order to express your inner universe. How does working in three dimensions change your creative process? Do the processes differ a lot between these mediums?

When I work in 3D, the process of creativity is more fluent, very spontaneous and I can communicate with feelings that I didn’t know I possessed until I felt them in my hands. I can transform them into something visual for others to see. It is a natural process, born of my subconscious. Back in my childhood, I recall helping my father in the garden and end up making objects with mud.

In my paintings, it’s me: my surroundings, my past and present, something very personal and intimate expressed through a different tactile experience.
As with murals, most of them have been collaborative works I’ve done with students at schools. The first one I made came out of the blue. A friend asked me for ideas on what to do with a wall where the tiles had been removed. I had the idea to teach the students about mural making and the importance of recycling material to make art. That’s how the first mural was born.

You express yourself freely using clay. What are the main materials and ceramic techniques that you use?

I like to experiment, so I have been using different kind of clay, such as stoneware, low and mid-fire with glazes and oxides. When I do mixed media, especially installations, I like to integrate other materials like metal, found objects and fresh water pearls. I use handmade techniques from slab, clay relief, and impressed texture to carving.


Your past experience and your personal history seem to be an important source of inspiration for you. Tell us more about the symbolism of your work.

Maybe that’s why I work in different mediums; I am much better expressing my self visually. Sometimes an image will stay with me and I am compelled to paint or sculpt it. Much later, I will realize that these images have a much deeper significance to me, one that transcends the visual. These images become symbols of social-political issues that are at the core of my world views and concerns. For example in the ceramic chains installation, the chains remain unconnected and loose, which symbolizes the right of freedom of the individual; regardless of religion, race, country, and gender. Freedom of expression is something that we, as humans should never have to give up.

Many of your works have an intrinsic femininity. How does being a female artist influence the themes and the ideas you choose to represent?

My themes and ideas begin with personal experiences, past, present, as well as everything that surrounds me: people, places and objects. Sometimes stories interact with different characters in different circumstances. I also like to create surreal landscapes for them.

The white flowers I used in the “Warrior’s Series”, are images from my bank of memories of my father’s garden; he used to mix the flowers in the vegetable garden, which was my play yard during my childhood. “After Chaos”, a woman sleeps peacefully. She is able to find tranquility because she is surrounded by “white warrior flowers” - deceptively frail, and yet possessing all of the strength of memories, nature and the power of womanhood. These flowers guard her as she rests before facing whatever trials the day may bring to her.

You come from Argentina, and you define yourself as a Latin American artist. How does your cultural heritage reflects in your creative experience?

My Latin American roots inform my work. I was born in Argentina, my parents were immigrants of the World War II, and so my back ground tradition at home had a strong European flavor. Even so, I grew up proud for the country that welcomed my parents and the country they taught me to love. Moreover, I am also married to a Puerto Rican man, my son was born on the island too and we spent many years there. This is yet another passage in my life, where the colors and details are reflected more in my paintings than in my ceramics. So you see, my cultural heritage is a potpourri of different tradition and experiences, and everything is reflected in my art.

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  • Review: Mungyeong Traditional Tea Bowl Festival

    Article by Shamai Sam Gibsh & Stephanie Young
    Published in Ceramics Now Magazine Issue 2

    A movie set, created in the style of a sixth century village, within forests and farmland, cherry blossom and azaleas, in valleys and mountains centrally located in South Korea, is the stage for this amazing Mungyeong Tea Bowl Festival. The City of Mungyeong and the South Korean government sponsor the festival, now in its eighth year, and focus on reviving Korean Tea ceremony traditions, as well as the ceramic ware made for it.

    Bongam Temple, Mungyeong Traditional Tea Bowl Festival

    Ceramic artists (28) from all over the world were invited this year (2012) to participate in this festival, and to display their tea bowls and demonstrate their techniques, as well as to join local artists in various activities related to the traditional Tea Bowl ceremonies. Our tea bowls were available for show and sale, and some selected tea bowls were entered into a competition and are now part of the Mungyeong Tea Bowl Museum’s permanent display, alongside the local artists collection. The museum also includes a large studio and teaching center and an impressive traditional Korean Noborigama kiln.

    There were many buildings filled with about 50 local masters and potters, selling traditional or modern artistically interpreted Korean wares. There were of course many buildings holding traditional tea ceremonies, for the casual afternoon sip or a more extended, fully traditional affair.

    We watched artists fire a Noborigama kiln as it has been fired for thousands of years. Local clay and raw materials transformed into wares of the same timelessness as it has been done for centuries. The Mungyeong area is the center of tea bowl making in South Korea and there are many very talented masters, each with his own studio and at times a large display room and even a museum.

    One such artist is Oh Soon-Taek, a self taught ceramicist who originally began his creative endeavors as a painter; he learned the nature of the medium “from the world”. Some of the most striking pieces among his collection were the very small, almost miniature tea sets, each executed with perfect craftsmanship. We were fortunate to join Oh Soon-Taek for tea ceremony on a number of occasions, to see the inherent beauty of his work as it fulfilled its function. He masters a variety of glazes and forms in his collection, leaning more to simple aesthetics, so one can admire the form and function of his meditative work, and appreciate his respect to traditional ware, in spite of the adaptation to modern life. Oh Soon-Taek makes his own clay and glazes from the nature around his house, and he built his own kiln. He sells his work only from his house and workshop and has a solo exhibition once every 10 years.

    Han-Bong Cheon - Intangible Cultural Treasure, Noborigama kiln

    Our hosts went to a great effort to bring us to a number of potteries and kiln sites further spread through the countryside. One such visit was to the studio of Han-Bong Cheon. Our busload of international artists came upon a small, slight man of 80, stocking an enormous Noborigama kiln with the ferocity of a teenage apprentice. Han-Bong Cheon, who became an Intangible Cultural Treasure in 1996, and his daughter Kung Hee Cheon have been making tea ware at their home outside of Mungyeong for 64 years. Tea ceremony has been historically conducted by monks in the Buddhist temples, where Han-Bong Cheon learned and mastered it. Han Bong’s mission was to reintroduce to South Korea the know how of the old Koryo tea bowl tradition, that was at its peak production during the 17th century and was lost during the introduction of mass production.

    He is also considered today as the artist who revived the Maksabal - “Bowl for Anything” - made for all purposes. Koreans use Maksabal as a bowl for water, soup and tea, appreciating its endless and enduring value. In addition, in order to perfect it, he traveled to Japan to learn the making of tea wares from Mr. Tokuro from Setto Mino. Han-Bong Cheon’s work masterfully explores the reserved aesthetics of Korean tea ware. His daughter Kung Hee Cheon displayed and sold both hers and her father’s wares at the festival. Her work adds a feminine touch and an additional dimension to the traditional male craft.

    Another, of many, amazing places we visited was the home, studio, and gallery of Professor Tae-Keun Yoo. Professor Yoo, as we call him, teaches ceramics at the local university, and at most times was accompanied by a group of devoted young potters-students.

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  • 7 Ceramic Art Competitions and Fairs Where You Should Participate in 2014

    Ceramics Now comprised a list of 7 ceramic art competitions and fairs where artists can apply to participate in 2014. Be quick, the deadlines are approaching fast!


    1. INTERNATIONAL CERAMICS COMPETITION MINO, JAPAN

    The competition is the main event of the International Ceramics Festival Mino, which is held with the aim of supporting growth of the ceramics industry and the enhancement of culture through global exchange of ceramics design and culture. The first festival was held in 1986, and this will be the 10th edition. The last edition gathered 2777 entries from 57 countries. It is considered the largest event in the world entirely dedicated to contemporary ceramics. Read more

    Apply online / Download application procedures / Application form: Individual or Company

    Deadline: January 10, 2014 / Dates: September 12 - October 19, 2014
    Total prizes: ~ USD 130.000 / No entry fee
    Entry categories: Ceramics Design, Ceramic Arts


    2. INTERNATIONAL CERAMICS FAIR OLDENBURG, GERMANY

    Situated around the noble Schloss in the city-center of Oldenburg, the International Ceramic Fair which includes a ceramic market, presentation of professional prizes, special exhibits and artist showcases. The fair ensures that collectors and enthusiasts alike are offered an exquisite range of works from artistic creations to high-quality tableware. Based upon strict criteria a jury of professionals within the field chooses over a hundred workshops and ceramic artists to present their current work. This event attracts more than 60.000 visitors annually. Read more

    Download application procedures and terms / Application form

    Deadline: January 11, 2014 / Dates: August 2-3, 2014
    Entry fee: EUR 240 (includes 3x3 meters stand)


    3. CLAY? V EXHIBITION, UNITED STATES

    The fifth installment of Kirkland Arts Center’s biennial contemporary ceramics exhibition, Clay? V, is juried by University of Washington, School of Art Professors Doug Jeck, Jamie Walker, and Akio Takamori. Clay? V explores the versatility of clay as a medium of artistic expression. Showcasing a range of sizes, scales, subject matter, and techniques, the artwork of this exhibition is both a testament to the enduring legacy of clay and future of the field.

    Read more / Apply online

    Deadline: January 17, 2014 / Dates: March 21 - May 17, 2014
    Entry fee: USD 25


    4. WESTERWALD PRIZE 2014 - EUROPEAN CERAMICS, GERMANY
    Competition open only to European citizens.

    The Westerwald Prize was first awarded in 1973 to present outstanding ceramic art and craft work in the framework of a competition and exhibition at the Keramikmuseum Westerwald (KMW). This remains a priority of the administration of the Westerwald region for the 13th Westerwald Prize in 2014. A further aim is to promote the dialogue between ceramics and art in the region and to support cultural exchange within Europe.

    Download application procedures and form

    Deadline: January 19, 2014 / Dates: September 26, 2014 - February 1, 2015
    Total prizes: EUR 24.000 / No entry fee
    Entry categories: Saltglaze (stoneware and porcelain), Design (serially produced ware), Vessel / Form / Decor, Sculpture / Installation, Talent Award (below 35 years old)


    5. INTERNATIONAL BIENNIAL OF VALLAURIS, FRANCE
    Competition open only to European Union citizens.

    Since 1966 the Town of Vallauris Golfe-Juan has organised a biennial with the aim of promoting and rewarding artistic creation in the field of ceramics. For this edition, it has been decided to use the expression ‘Contemporary Creation and Ceramic’ to stress its intention of making ceramic creation part of the world of contemporary art. The competition is intended to encourage and publicise European talents using the reputation of Vallauris, the town of ceramics, as a springboard facilitating their recognition around the world.

    Apply online / Download application procedures / Application form

    Deadline: December 30, 2013 / Dates: July - November 2014
    Total prizes: EUR 25.000 / No entry fee
    Note: You first have to apply online, then to send the required documents by mail (post).

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  • Yô Akiyama exhibition / ARTCOURT Gallery, Osaka, Japan

    Yo Akiyama exhibition, ARTCOURT Gallery Osaka

    Yô Akiyama exhibition / ARTCOURT Gallery, Osaka, Japan
    December 3, 2013 - January 25, 2014

    Yo Akiyama established his signature style of sculptural ceramic creation while still in school. His creative mind lies beneath the awareness by facing the nature and energy of clay, expressed through large scale works. We are excited to introduce Akiyama’s new works in this exhibition showcasing the roots, that is the artery of Akiyama’s powerful creation as well as Akiyama’s now as his next step in his career.

    Akiyama’s early works were mysterious objects created through black pottery. His student works done in black pottery show influences from primitivism that he was interested in, modern sculptors such as Brâncuşi and Arp, and his professor Kazuo Yagi, but yet to discover his own expression or concept through clay. Those early pieces are gone; however, Akiyama recalls that he can see the presence of Akiyama that has lead to himself now. This discovery lead him to the new set of works, in which the artist re-creates his early black pottery works with his current skillsets and by revisiting his own 1970s. Akiyama titled this new challenge of regenerating or redeveloping his roots “Incubation” (or Houran no Katachi in Japanese) and introduces about 10 new pieces in this exhibition.

    Akiyama developed several series of works that express the ever-changing shape of earth with unique creative challenges such as nature vs. human, birth vs. decay, internal vs. external by fusing the phenomenon of soil and thoughts on creation. The series titled “Metavoid,” which began in 2003, puts focus on an enclosed space where objects intervene and how we perceive such space. Akiyama would make a large bowl on a potter’s wheel, then reverse its inside and outside. This act brings a change in spatial relation of the bowl and the space it holds within (the void). The artist would then place this bowl in an even larger vessel – an exhibition space, the other void. Akiyama uses clay as a vehicle to explore physical shapes to his pursuit ranging from multi-layered texture in motion to human perception of space. We are introducing 5 new large scale pieces ranging from 100 cm to 180 cm from the series “Metavoid.”

    Akiyama began making a series of slabs with prints of spider webs as his side work around 1993 where the artist began to depart from his signature black pottery works. The series captured the natural beauty of spider webs Akiyama found almost every morning around his home from early summer to fall. About 50 creations from this series will gather in our gallery for public viewing for the first time. They can be seen as an organic map that connects the roots and current of Akiyama’s creation.

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  • Uku Rere: Nga Kaihanga Uku and beyond / Whangarei Art Museum, New Zeeland

    Uku Rere: Nga Kaihanga Uku and beyond, Whangarei Art Museum

    Uku Rere: Nga Kaihanga Uku and beyond / Whangarei Art Museum, New Zeeland
    November 11, 2013 - February 16, 2014

    Whangarei Art Museum is the first venue to host this ground-breaking touring exhibition after a highly successful show at Pataka Art+Museum in partnership with Toi Maori. Uku Rere features contemporary ceramics by the five principal members of Nga Kaihanga Uku: Baye Riddell, Manos Nathan, Colleen Urlich, Wi Taepa and Paerau Corneal. Both Colleen Urlich and Manos Nathan are from the Te Tai Tokerau region and this important exhibition is the first major survey of contemporary Maori ceramics and showcases the strength of Maori ceramic art in New Zealand’s contemporary art scene. The exhibition is displayed in the Younghusband Gallery and accompanied by an extensive catalogue available at the art museum.

    The exhibition also features Manos Nathan’s unique sculptural work Kaitiaki, which stands to welcome visitors at the Whangarei Art Museum’s entrance. This is his largest work to date and was commissioned in 2002 by the Whangarei Art Museum with assistance from Te Waka Toi – Creative NZ Arts Council. The artist chose the concept of ‘kaitiakitanga’ as the theme of the art work, portraying both welcome and guardianship.

    The exhibition coincides with Kokiri Putahi – the 7th International Gathering of Indigenous Artists, organised by Te Atinga the Contemporary Visual Arts committee of Toi Maori Aotearoa in which both Colleen Urlich and Manos Nathan are members of. Since the first gathering in 1995 the committee has worked to develop Maori contemporary art practice for both emerging and established artists working in a range of media, and next year the gathering will also coincide with the January 2014 Ngapuhi Festival in Kaikohe.

    The concurrent exhibition held in the Mair Gallery, Salon to Marae – first glimmerings of a Maori Modernism will feature works from the 1950s-1970s by artists Ralph Hotere, Clive Arlidge and Selwyn Wilson. A selection of Wilson’s early ceramics from the family’s private collection adds a unique dimension to the story of Maori ceramic artists. Selected works from Ross T Smith’s two photographic series Hemi Tuwharerangi Paraha (1998) and Stillness Falls Gradually (2000) will also be on display, adding to the significant development of Maori contemporary art practice.

    Uke Rere: Nga Kaihanga Uku illuminates the strength of the contemporary Maori ceramic movement in New Zealand. From Taepa’s chunky, rugged pots full of personality to the refined elegance of Nathan’s sculptural pots, the exhibition showcases the remarkable vitality and diversity of the individual practices of the five influential artists. Over the last twenty-five years these artists have redefined and expanded ceramic art - imbuing it with indigenous concepts and a deep commitment to Maori culture.

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  • HYPERCLAY: Contemporary Ceramics / Gladstone Regional Art Gallery & Museum, Gladstone, Australia

    Roderick Bamford at HYPERCLAY: Contemporary Ceramics exhibition, Gladstone Regional Art Gallery Museum

    HYPERCLAY: Contemporary Ceramics / Gladstone Regional Art Gallery & Museum, Gladstone, Australia
    December 13, 2013 - March 2014, 2014

    RoHYPERCLAY: Contemporary Ceramics investigates the field of ceramics, focusing on new attitudes, techniques and technologies that are being embraced by artists in the 21st century. Walter Auer, Roderick Bamford, Stephen Bird, Jacqueline Clayton, Andrea Hylands, Addison Marshall, Pip McManus and Paul Wood all ignite the imagination with the potential of clay through their work. As the prefix ‘hyper’ suggests, HYPERCLAY presents clay-based work where the medium has been amplified, extended and intensified to produce work that will delight, provoke and surprise. New technologies, the process of making, and the re-purposing of materials to create new forms are the delicate threads that bind the works in HYPERCLAY together.

    A collection of 35 short videos have been produced to accompany the work in HYPERCLAY. These include interviews with the artists, curators, academics, collectors, gallerists and students. All videos are available to view through iPads in the exhibition space, offering the viewer different perspectives on the works as well as deeper, richer connections to the artists.

    Roderick Bamford explores the process of additive fabrication, creating a series of ceramic sculptures using a modified rapid prototyping printer. Bamford sourced the parts for his 3D printer online, gradually building a machine that could print with clay. The result is a device that affords Bamford an expanded making process that incorporates both analogue and digital techniques.

    Stephen Bird, better known for his satirical figurative ceramics, presents two works that also play at the intersection of the digital and the handmade. Wanting to reveal the sequence of events that takes place when transforming raw clay into a finished sculpture, Bird spent several intensive weeks in his studio creating the stop-frame clay animation What are you laughing at?. The work is a re-telling of the Creation Story through the lens of the post-industrial world. It also documents Bird’s making process, capturing it as performance. Similarly, I Just Don’t Believe in Ceramics elevates ceramic surface decoration from static and permanent to evolving virtual design.

    New Warriors by Andrea Hylands captures the performance of material itself. Her fragile forms are the product of bone china slip poured into a mould and then removed at varying durations. This process is a balance between the spontaneity of movement and material, and the precision of the artists’ hand.

    Ceramicist Walter Auer is interested in the transformation and preservation of objects through a petrifaction process that he has been experimenting with for nearly 10 years. Auer soaks discarded soft toys in watered-down clay (terra sigillata) for weeks – even months - before submitting them to a grueling firing process.

    Similarly, Pip McManus is interested in transformation. Combining clay, video, sand and water, McManus has created a video work entitled Watershed 2 that engages with ideas of permanence and organic forms. In Watershed, the ancient medium of clay is effortlessly in conversation with the contemporary medium of video.

    Paul Wood scours op shops, thrift stores and neighbourhood gardening centres for pre-loved ceramic objects that he then re-fires, melts and slumps to create dramatic new sculptures. For Guardians of a Goddess Wood has crafted an ode to the ornamental water features that proudly sat in the neighborhood gardens of his childhood.

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  • » Michal Fargo

    Michal Fargo Ceramics

    Michal Fargo's profile on Ceramics Now - View the works

    "In my work, I am driven by textures, materials and non-traditional working methods.

    The main subject I deal with is the thin line between imitation and interpretation - My work portraits the contrast between an urban lifestyle and a remote admiration of nature. When I work, I use the most naive and (sometimes) barbaric techniques while facing industrial materials. I try to capture a longing for authentic nature and at the same time to celebrate its progress and many benefits, and perhaps combine both emotions into one.

    If I had to sum my main ambition in my work I would say that I seek authenticity that comes from a personal aesthetic perception. The fine definitions of art, craft and design seem to me unnecessary in relation to my work. While working on a piece, it is not so much a ‘narrative’ that I’m after, but rather, visibility and the abstract feelings that may be summoned by viewing the form. 

    As an artist I would like to think that I am a highly individual maker searching for an aesthetic vision that would be completely my own.” Michal Fargo

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  • Michal Fargo: Else, 2013, Porcelain, fired mold technique, fired to cone 6 electric, Variable dimensions. Photos by Mel Bergman.


  • Michal Fargo: Else, 2013, Porcelain, fired models technique, fired to cone 6 electric, 15x6 cm. Photo by Mel Bergman.


  • Michal Fargo: Else, 2013, Porcelain, fired mold technique, fired to cone 6 electric, Variable dimensions. Photos by Mel Bergman.


  • Michal Fargo: Else, 2012, Porcelain, fired mold technique, fired to cone 6 electric, 20x7 cm. Photos by Mel Bergman.

  • Michal Fargo: Else, 2012, Porcelain, fired models technique, fired to cone 6 electric, 30x18 cm. (white right), 24x21 cm. (white middle), 26x16 cm. (blue). Photo by Sasha Flit.

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