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denver art museum

» Overthrown: Clay Without Limits, on view until September 18

The Overthrown: Clay Without Limits exhibition at the Denver Art Museum is on view until September 18, 2011.

"The scale of the space has pushed all the artists to think big, both physically and conceptually. The exhibition, technically demonstrates the inventive use of such an ancient material, while raising contemporary issues. The works in the exhibition challenge traditional notions of “objectness”, providing a depth of content, and creating a diverse dialogue." Katie Caron

Location: Anschutz Gallery, Level Two, Hamilton Building / Denver Art Museum

→ View images from the exhibition (in High Quality) - /Overthrown
→ Read interviews we’ve made with some of the exhibiting artists -  /Overthrown_Interviews

Interview with Gwen F. Chanzit - The curator of the exhibition.
Interview with Katie Caron and Martha Russo
Interview with John Roloff
Interview with Clare Twomey
Interview with Paul Sacaridiz
Interview with Linda Sormin
Interview with Del Harrow
Interview with Mia Mulvey
Interview with Benjamin DeMott

* The Overthrown: Clay Without Limits exhibition will have an extended feature in the first printed issue of Ceramics Now Magazine (November 2011).

  • SPECIAL FEATURE: Overthrown: Clay Without Limits (Denver Art Museum)

    Overthrown: Clay Without Limits special feature for The Denver Art Museum - Ceramics Now

    SPECIAL FEATURE: Overthrown: Clay Without Limits, July 2011

    In partnership with The Denver Art Museum
    Written review of “Overthrown: Clay Without Limits” exhibition at The Denver Art Museum through interviews with exhibiting artists and the curator.

    The twenty-five artists in Overthrown: Clay Without Limits took on adventurous challenges to make the works in this exhibition. Most were made especially for Overthrown and many are in direct dialogue with our dynamic Daniel Libeskind-designed architecture; they move beyond the pedestal to the wall, the floor, and even the ceiling. A few extend beyond the Anschutz Gallery, across the entire museum complex. They break boundaries that are physical, technological, conceptual, and spatial.

    Working in all scales, from architecturally expansive to almost impossibly small, the artists in Overthrown employ twenty-first-century technology hand-in-hand with standard modeling and molding techniques. They use digital cameras, computers, laser cutters, 3-D printers, and computer-controlled mills along with more traditional tools.

    Some push the forms of functional objects. Others push the limits of fragility. They take risks that draw on material chemistry and maverick kiln techniques. Some of their works include not only clay, but also found objects such as metal, plastic, and abandoned industrial materials. Overthrowing our expectations of ceramic art—its size, its context, its methods, and its meaning—these artists show us new ways of using this versatile and timeless material.

    OVERTHROWN: CLAY WITHOUT LIMITS
    View images / Read all the interviews:
    Gwen F. Chanzit, Curator
    Katie Caron and Martha Russo
    John Roloff
    Clare Twomey
    Paul Sacaridiz
    Linda Sormin
    Del Harrow
    Mia Mulvey
    Benjamin DeMott

    The feature was presented on Ceramics Now in July 2011, and was published in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue One. The “Overthrown: Clay Without Limits" exhibition was on view at The Denver Art Museum June 11 through September 18, 2011.

    Above: Linda Sormin, Mine (i hear him unclip me / blood runs cold), 2010–11. Glazed ceramic; souvenir kitsch; and studio remnants from Tim Berg, Gerit Grimm, Nathan Craven, Robyn Gray, and Ted Yoon. Photo by Jeff Wells.

  • Interview with Paul Sacaridiz, exhibiting artist at the Overthrown: Clay Without Limits exhibition

    Interview with Paul Sacaridiz, exhibiting artist at the Overthrown: Clay Without Limits exhibition, Denver Art Museum, July 2011

    The special feature for the Overthrown: Clay Without Limits exhibition includes images from the exhibition and interviews with some of the exhibiting artists, plus with the curator. Subscribe.

    Ceramics Now Magazine: Tell us about your work exhibited at the Overthrown: Clay Without Limits exhibition.

    Paul Sacaridiz : An incomplete articulation is a new work designed for the Denver Art Museum. The piece utilizes the conceptual framework of a schematic diagram to point towards differing ways of articulating form. Sagging mounds of ceramic extrusions are situated alongside precise mathematical models and awkward structural forms. Individual components are physically and conceptually networked together, creating an elaborate three-dimensional system of mapping that becomes suggestive of propositional models and utopian systems. The work is comprised of objects that are intentionally fabricated in a variety of ways, ranging from digitally rendered and prototyped to more direct, analog processes. 

    Paul Sacaridiz, An Incomplete Articulation, 2011. Cast, extruded, pinched ceramic, wood, powder coated aluminium, cut vinyl, board. Photo by Jeff Wells.

    Ceramics Now Magazine: Does your work, An Incomplete Articulation, trying to reach an agreement between simple/ decorative and geometric/ architectural forms?

    Paul Sacaridiz : For a number of years, my work has looked at the visual correlation between domestic objects, such as decorative food molds, and the actual structures of built architecture. In many of these works, the approach to abstraction has relied upon decoration and pattern becoming something structural, rather than simply applied to a surface. An incomplete articulation follows this approach, but is less metaphorical than past projects. Ultimately, the piece is a response to considering systems of abstraction and the seemingly impossible task of understanding something in its entirety.


    Ceramics Now Magazine: You have an amazing ability of transforming every-day forms and simple objects into a complex statement. Isn’t it hard? From our experience, keeping it simple is sometimes the hardest thing to do.

    Paul Sacaridiz: There is a tipping point in every piece, that place where what you have done is simply too much. One of the greatest challenges that I set for myself is figuring out what can be removed before the overall work starts to break down. This results in a very slow pace of observing and responding to a piece of sculpture. As time has passed, I am most interested in exploring a sculptural logic that is both pragmatic and highly allusive at the same time. This relies on a specific balance, which has to be reevaluated with each project.

    Paul Sacaridiz, An Incomplete Articulation, detail, 2011. Cast, extruded, pinched ceramic, wood, powder coated aluminium, cut vinyl, board. Photo by Jeff Wells.


    Ceramics Now Magazine: What advice can you give to those who look at your works? Should they be aware of something in particular?

    Paul Sacaridiz: Looking at sculpture should be experiential; the scale of the work and its materiality are as critical to the overall reading as conceptual concerns. Viewing work should never be a passive activity and one needs to be engaged in deciphering images and objects at a multitude of levels. If I have done my job correctly there will be multiple entry points in any given piece. There are many tropes that allow this to happen, and they should be taken as such. If an object appears to be beautiful or illogical, it has the capacity to operate on an emotive or philosophical level. Both are equally valuable, and afford a jumping off point from which one can look at something from a position of curiosity, questioning and wonder.


    Ceramics Now Magazine: Where can we find you and your works in the next future?
     
    Paul Sacaridiz : I am on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and will be teaching a workshop next summer at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, in Deer Isle, Maine.  Over the next year I will be working on a project that seeks to explore the limitations of three-dimensional scanning and the possibility of translating that information into tangible objects. Scanning is generally successful with objects that are solid volumes and therefore “readable” as a continuous surface. My primary interest is in scanning things that are not single surfaces, but rather conglomerations of multiple layers. Such information may prove challenging, if not impossible to fully record, resulting in a surface that is technically a failure in terms of the computers ability to read and render it in a complete mathematical state.  I see this research as being as much a question of physical possibilities and limitations (of machinery, technology, etc…) as a philosophical investigation into abstraction and the limitations of understanding something that is perhaps impossible to fully grasp.

    ——————————————————————-

    Paul Sacaridiz (b.1970, Brooklyn, NY, lives and works in Madison, WI) received an MFA (1998) from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a BFA from Alfred University (1993).

    Since 1997 he has been active in solo exhibitions, collaborative projects and group shows at a diverse number of venues including: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the Icheon World Ceramic Center, Icheon, Korea, The Dubuque Museum of Art (IA), The Alfedena Gallery, Chicago, The Northern Illinois University Art Museum and the Ceramic Research Center at Arizona State University. His work has been the subject of reviews and articles in Ceramics: Art and Perception, The New Art Examiner and Art Papers among others.  Sacaridiz has been the recipient of residencies at the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, The Ragdale Foundation, The Vermont Studio Center and the Art/Industry Program at Kohler Company.

    He is currently an Associate Professor in the Art Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    Visit Paul Sacaridiz’s website.

    Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and like our Facebook page if you want to stay in touch with us.
    → Read more interviews with ceramic artists and search through our featured artists.

    Interview by Vasi Hirdo - Editor of Ceramics Now Magazine

  • Interview with Del Harrow, exhibiting artist at the Overthrown: Clay Without Limits exhibition

    Interview with Del Harrow, exhibiting artist at the Overthrown: Clay Without Limits exhibition, Denver Art Museum, July 2011

    The special feature for the Overthrown: Clay Without Limits exhibition includes images from the exhibition and interviews with some of the exhibiting artists, plus with the curator. Subscribe.

    Statement, Del Harrow : The Hamilton building at the Denver Art Museum responds to the natural landscape with carefully calibrated geometric volumes. I think of my installation as a kind of tapestry – or embroidery – embellishing this architecture with a more intricate structure.

    Many of the qualities of ceramics make it ideal for large scale architectural applications: it is permanent, colorful, and relatively simple to form.

    But clay also presents considerable challenges. It is fragile, heavy, and requires a kiln large enough to contain and carefully heat each component part.

    For a thousand years architects have developed strategies for constructing large surfaces by connecting many clay pieces (The Sydney Opera House and the Alhambra are two of my personal favorites). Innovations in complex geometry have emerged from their solutions. Peter Lu, a Physicist and Harvard Professor, discovered the use of Penrose geometry in Medieval Iranian architecture. Penrose geometry – an idea not discovered in the west for another 500 years – is a series of non-repeating tessellating polygons – in this case a functional solution for aligning ceramic tiles on a wall, and also a revelation as a component of fractal geometry; a mathematical concept for reflecting on form in nature.

    While more modest in scale and complexity the components of this installation are borne out of the same impulse. The Hamilton Building at the Denver Art Museum is an ideal site. The building responds to the natural landscape with carefully calibrated geometric shapes. My installation is a second layer – a more intricate structure for weaving together the geometries of nature with the volumes of this architecture. The scale of the building and the significance of this exhibition have provided the catalyst for my largest and most ambitious work to date.

    Del Harrow, Wedgewood Black Hive/Hole, 2011. Slip-cast black porcelain. / Links, 2011. Earthenware, glaze, and platinum luster. / Copper Fade, 2011. Earthenware and glaze. Photo by Jeff Wells.

    Ceramics Now Magazine: Tell us about your works exhibited at the Overthrown: Clay Without Limits exhibition. What do they represent and what message do you want to deliver?

    Del Harrow :The work in this show was partly a response to the architecture of this building.  The pieces deal with pattern, repetition, geometry, and difference. The textures and patterns that come from the many stages and layers of the process of making something with clay. I don’t have a particular message that I want to deliver.

    Ceramics Now Magazine: Have you ever attempted to create a new material or to replicate a texture of a material in order to make your installations more exclusive?

    Del Harrow : I do think a lot about the qualities and textures of materials but I don’t think I’m trying to make the installations more “exclusive”. I think of my use of materials as pretty inclusive or democratic. My installations are compositions, there are a lot of different metaphors I use to think about their structure - music and cooking are a couple - so I’m thinking about creating an experience that comes out of a play with repetition and difference. Material qualities are one layer of the composition.

    There is a chapter in Baudrillard’s book “The System of Objects” called “Natural Wood and Cutural Wood” where he discusses the cultural hierarchies of various materials.  For example vinyl siding imprinted with a wood grain is typically assigned a lower position in the hierarchy of materials that natural wood siding even though the vinyl siding probably performs it’s function better (of course Baudrillard also wrote this book in the 1960‘s before we were aware of some of the health risks of “off gassing” from too much plastic in building materials). We also have an aesthetic experience of material qualities.  Man made materials tend to have more uniformity in their pattern and texture. I don’t see one type of material - synthetic or natural - as inherently superior and I think that even the line between the two categories is pretty fuzzy. Ceramic materials have a long history of borrowing qualities and textures and even mimicking other materials. For example Terra Cotta Building cladding made to imitate stone, or pots that borrow texture from basketry or metal work. Certain ceramic materials also have very strong - and sometimes paradoxical - cultural associations. “Porcelain” still has associations with ideas of quality, purity, exclusivity, and at the same time it can feel nostalgic, kitsch, and low brow. I’m very interested in these ideas and I see my work as playing within this territory.

    Del Harrow, Copper Fade, 2011. Earthenware and glaze. Photo by Jeff Wells.


    Ceramics Now Magazine: How much have you been influenced by the Aboriginal Art and your time spent in Australia?

    Del Harrow: Not consciously.

    Ceramics Now Magazine: What is your reaction towards using plastic plates and cutlery in our daily life?

    Del Harrow: I don’t know if I’ve ever come a across a plastic knife and fork and thought: “this is a really nice thing to use”. I wish I would. Cheap, disposable knives and forks certainly serve a function. I don’t use them very often but at picnics they are pretty handy. I wish the knives didn’t always break when you’re trying to cut your steak. They should also be biodegradable.

    Ceramics Now Magazine: If you would have to recreate the nomadic Brancusi exhibition, what other object would you add that could empathize with the philosophy of the famous Romanian sculptor?

    Del Harrow: When I made that piece it started out as an idea about reproduction of objects and authorship. As I was working and started doing more research I became more interested in Brancusi’s ideas about his sculptures being dependent on specific spatial relationships to each other and on the architecture of his studio space.  Along with his work making discreet forms/sculptures Brancusi had a parallel practice of photographing the work within the space/context of the studio. The composition of objects in my piece was based on a specific arrangement from one of his photographs. I chose a picture that contained several very iconic forms: bird in space, endless column… I think if I made this piece again it might be interesting to chose a photograph with less well known forms. Some of his photographs are just piles of molds and raw materials in a corner of the room. In some ways these types of photographs make more space for thinking about his objects as provisional and contingent on qualities of light, context, and arrangement.

    Del Harrow, Wedgewood Black Hive/Hole, 2011. Slip-cast black porcelain. / Links, 2011. Earthenware, glaze, and platinum luster. / Copper Fade, 2011. Earthenware and glaze. Photo by Jeff Wells.

    Ceramics Now Magazine: Where can we find you and your works in the next future?

    Del Harrow : I have a couple of exhibitions coming up, one in November at Vox Populi Gallery in Philadelphia. This show will be the result of a collaboration with Chadwick Augustine. I also have a solo show opening in February at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas.

    ——————————————————————-

    "My current studio practice consists of two activities: the production/fabrication of objects from a range of materials, and then, a sustained investigation of these objects by way of successive experiments with strategies for placement, arrangement, and organization.

    Individual objects emerge from a confluence of form, material and process. Many sculptures begin as digital models – employing computer software as a tool for generating abstract form. As material culture an objects’ subtle textures and marks contain and reveal information about methods of fabrication – manual or mechanized production – and by extension the scale of economy, culture, and the objects meaning within it.

    Objects within an installation are built on a range of scales – of objects, furniture, architectural fragments – creating a composite scale/space, shifting between the miniature, the architectural interior, and the landscape.

    Installations borrow organizational strategies from both art historical compositions and vernacular spaces: game fields, farms, domestic interiors, forests. These spaces share abstract forms: planes, mesh-works, surfaces, and hierarchies. Like a mathematical model or interior architecture, the installation is a diagrammatic construction built within the gallery.” Del Harrow

    Visit Del Harrow’s website.

    Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and like our Facebook page if you want to stay in touch with us.
    → Read more interviews with ceramic artists and search through our featured artists.

    Interview by Iunia Ratiu with help from Vasi Hirdo - Editor of Ceramics Now Magazine.

  • Interview with Linda Sormin, exhibiting artist at the Overthrown: Clay Without Limits exhibition

    Interview with Linda Sormin, exhibiting artist at the Overthrown: Clay Without Limits exhibition, Denver Art Museum, July 2011

    The special feature for the Overthrown: Clay Without Limits exhibition includes images from the exhibition and interviews with some of the exhibiting artists, plus with the curator. Subscribe.

    Ceramics Now Magazine: Tell us about your work exhibited in the Overthrown: Clay Without Limits exhibition.

    Linda Sormin : This installation, Mine: i hear him unclip me, explores forms and structures of uncertainty height, and depth. I am curious about the sites and processes of mining. Two years ago in my installation “Rift” at the Middlesbrough Museum of Modern Art in the UK, I invited the curator, James Beighton, to crawl through a Plexiglas tube high in the air, wearing a mining hat and safety goggles. I asked him to “mine” the tunnels of the work by breaking open my hand-built porcelain pieces with a wooden hammer and chisel. 

    For this current installation in Denver, I scavenged and borrowed materials and objects from the Colorado School of Mines and Geological Museum in Golden, CO, and the Edgar Experimental Mines in Idaho Springs, CO. Boulder ReSource and thrift shops in the area were also sources of materials and forms, including a stained glass door picturing a coyote and flowers, and a large brown ear-less plastic bear head.

    Linda Sormin, Mine (i hear him unclip me / blood runs cold), 2010–11. Glazed ceramic; souvenir kitsch. Photo by Jeff Wells.

    With the extraordinary technical assistance of my partner Seth Hisiger, I worked at my studio in Providence, RI for 4 months to create the ceramic components for the work.  With extruded stoneware tubes and hand-pinched grids of red earthenware clay, we created linear drawings in space with fired and glazed ceramics. Because the installation was sited on a large slanting wall in the museum (it leans 110 degrees away from the viewer), we needed to build a mock wall at this exact angle in my studio. After Seth built this wall and developed a system of steel pipe to be mounted to it, we were able to test the structure by threading sections of the ceramic grids through the pipe. I’ve been interested in “skewering” ceramics (like meat!) in this way for a few years now. Final installation at the Denver Art Museum took 12 days. For the first three days we worked closely with John Lupe’s outstanding installation team of eight, two motorized lifts and (for me at least) high levels of adrenaline. At first, I felt quite daunted by the large number of heavy, super-fragile objects we needed to mount to and balance on that wall – and I’m a little scared of heights. Maybe more than a little.  While hand-pinching raw clay into the piece at 25 feet up, my knees went weak and I had to sit down. So I worked that way in the gallery space – harnessed and clipped into a metal basket, legs dangling down.

    Ceramics Now Magazine: Do you find it challenging to construct your works with objects from different places? You can also tell us what it’s like to work with recycled materials.

    Linda Sormin : I am always grateful for the opportunity to work with objects from different places, with different histories of function and use in specific cultures. It’s a challenge that whets my appetite for making. I hope to tell stories with these things, to weave together abstract real-time narratives that invent or re-establish connections between objects, situations, people and places. Recycled objects are used objects with a past life. Their lack of innocence prevents them from being predictable to me, and their idiosyncrasies help to shape my installations. Their flaws resonate in the work, and in my imagination.

    Linda Sormin, Mine (i hear him unclip me / blood runs cold), detail, 2010–11. Glazed ceramic; souvenir kitsch. Photo by Jeff Wells.


    Ceramics Now Magazine: People described you as being extreme. How far do you agree with this?

    Linda Sormin : In some ways, I think this could be true. On the other hand, I question if we can consider anyone working in a craft-based art profession to be extreme. In comparison to what? is what I’d ask.

    I imagine that being balanced and moderate would lead to a steadier, more peaceful way of life.  I do often feel compelled to explore the edges of experiences, and feel that it is necessary to push boundaries and takes risks in order to comprehend the situations and behaviors of materials, things and people.  This is the normal task of the artist, however – so it’s not extreme, just a choice – a research methodology perhaps. If I were less “extreme” I might not get into the messes that I often find myself in.  And then where would I be?  These messes keep me alert and attentive to the work.


    Ceramics Now Magazine: Where do you get inspiration for your works, do you have any hobbies?

    Linda Sormin: I enjoy learning about objects and how they seem to behave in the world.  From tools to clothing, domestic interiors to trash, digital technology to hands-on processes, I draw ideas and narratives from how people interact with things. Recently, I’ve been interested in the powerful machinery and risky methods used by people in so-called “manly” professions such as mining and marine work.  When I visited the Edgar Experimental Mines in Idaho Springs, CO this past spring, I met miners who were studying outer space mining, as well as working with the military to develop approaches for underground operations. I’ve often used “mining” and un-grounding” as metaphors in writing and making – so it was humbling and enlightening to witness the real thing, and get to know the people actually working in these fields.


    Ceramics Now Magazine: You tend to take adventurous tasks and use all kinds of materials. Do you think that one day you will be able to interfere with fashion to create pret-a-porter clothing from recycled materials?

    Linda Sormin: There seems to be a growing number of people practicing apparel design in this way. I absolutely love clothes and am always excited by garments that offer material or social meaning from unexpected places. I would be thrilled to collaborate with a fashion designer or textile artist someday. Do you know anyone who’d be interested in working with someone like me who can’t sew a straight line?


    Ceramics Now Magazine: Where can we find you and your works in the next future?

    Linda Sormin : From August 4 - September 17 of this year, I will be in Norway making new work in the studios of the National Fine Art Academy in Bergen. My partner Seth Hisiger and I will be installing the work in the context of the China Collection at the West Norway Museum of Decorative Arts. From October 7-10 I’ll be giving a workshop at the Haystack Mountain School of Craft on Deer Isle, Maine. From October 27-29, I’ll be back in Bergen to speak at the Thing Tang Trash: Upcycling in Contemporary Ceramic Art Symposium.

    Linda Sormin, Mine (i hear him unclip me / blood runs cold), detail, 2010–11. Glazed ceramic; souvenir kitsch; and studio remnants from Tim Berg, Gerit Grimm, Nathan Craven, Robyn Gray, and Ted Yoon. Photo by Jeff Wells.

    ——————————————————————-

    The site looms above and veers past, willing me to compromise, to give ground. I roll and pinch the thing into place, I collect and lay offerings at its feet. This architecture melts and leans, hoarding objects in its folds. It lurches and dares you to approach, it tears cloth and flesh, it collapses with the brush of a hand.

    Nothing is thrown away. This immigrant lives in fear of waste. Old yogurt is used to jumpstart the new batch. What is worth risking for things to get juicy, rare, ripe? What might be discovered on the verge of things going bad?

    Linda Sormin is a Canadian sculptor based in Providence, Rhode Island. Through objects and site-specific installations, Sormin’s work explores issues of fragility and aggression, mobility and survival. Born in Bangkok, Sormin has a BA in English Literature and worked in community development for four years in Thailand and Lao PDR. She studied ceramics at Andrews University, Sheridan School of Crafts & Design (Grad 2001) and Alfred University (MFA 2003).

    Sormin’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, most recently at the Denver Art Museum (Denver, USA), gl Holtegaard (Denmark), Vallauris (France), Middlesbrough (UK), Providence, Philadelphia and New Orleans. From 2003-06, Sormin taught ceramics at Emily Carr Institute in Vancouver, BC. For 5 years, she taught at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI, first as Assistant Professor (2006-09) then as Associate Professor (2009-11) and Head of Ceramics (2010-11).

    Visit Linda Sormin’s website.

    Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and like our Facebook page if you want to stay in touch with us.
    → Read more interviews with ceramic artists and search through our featured artists.

    Interview by Iunia Ratiu with help from Vasi Hirdo - Editor of Ceramics Now Magazine.

  • Interview with John Roloff, exhibiting artist at the Overthrown: Clay Without Limits exhibition

    Interview with John Roloff, exhibiting artist at the Overthrown: Clay Without Limits exhibition, Denver Art Museum, July 2011

    The special feature for the Overthrown: Clay Without Limits exhibition includes images from the exhibition and interviews with ten exhibiting artists, plus with the curator. At the end of July, we will also send a special newsletter to our subscribers. Subscribe here to receive the special edition of our newsletter.

    Ceramics Now Magazine: You use many materials and different techniques when making your works. What did you learn from the process?

    John Roloff: The earth materials (and photo images) used in The Sea Within The Land/Laramide were based upon paleogeographic research of the site.  A lot was learned about the previous landscapes and geologic materials/processes involved and their relationship to the current central Colorado landscape.  These materials (as are all) have many narratives or stories that can be viewed through one lens or another.  The lens I am most familiar with or knowledgeable is geologic transformation, history and process which informs my relationship to the materials and how I might work with or present them.  For the mold/casting sculptural element, I used a variation of an unfired rammed earth process, this state of materiality is copasetic with the very low degrees of lithification and metamorphism of the sediments relative to the geologic and landscape concepts used in the project.  I often look for analogs to natural processes for how I might interpret how to work with  materials or sites.

    John Roloff, The Sea Within the Land/Laramide, Landscape Projection, Seascape Structure 31


    Ceramics Now Magazine: What’s your connection to the sea, to the magic and eternal world of the ocean? Your work The Sea Within The Land/Laramide approached this matter.

    John Roloff : A basic idea of this project is that in many ways the ocean and the land are analogs of each other, so in this regard the land is also magic and co-eternal as well as co-mutable and co-evolving.  I think it is really beautiful that much of the land in the middle of North America was the result of marine depositional processes, sediments slowly settling or precipitating and consolidating on the sea floor.  Two selections from poems of the poet Gary Snyder have been very inspirational to me for many years have resurfaced and found their way into recent lectures:

            Red ooze of the North Pacific — only shark’s teeth and the
            earbones of whales.  An endless mist of skeletons, settling
            to the ocean floor.

    (Japan First Time Around, “Anita Maru” at sea, 7: V: 56, Earth House Hold, 1957), and


            sea-bed strata raised and folded,
                 granite far below.
            warm quiet centuries of rain
                 (make dark red tropic soils)….

    (What Happened Here Before, Turtle Island, 1974)


    In the Colorado area during the Cretaceous, the Tethys Sea, an incursion from the south (now Gulf of Mexico region) merged with the Mowrey Sea from the north to create what is called the Interior Seaway, rich with Mesozoic dramas of life and death and an ongoing erosion of the surrounding land sending clays, silts and sands into the sea, later to be further eroded by human agency in the Holocene and transformed into brick, paving, artifacts and re-deposited as the Denver built environment, which is currently undergoing erosion… the cycle continues..


    Ceramics Now Magazine: Why did you took this challenge of working mainly on site-specific projects? Do you find it easy to express yourself through the openness of the space, rather than to an exhibition space?

    John Roloff : For me these spaces are really the same space, it is difficult for me to see architecture (or space definition in certain terms) without considering the origin of the materials of the building itself and some relationship to the space it encompasses.  A building for me is a landscape made out of previous landscapes, which has an effect on the space, either of the building or its paleogeographic history – how that transformation (from one landscape to another) occurred through this lens, is the product of generations of climatic systems, earth forces and human agency to name a few  (see question 2 above).  This attitude, I believe, is a basic extrapolation of more familiar site-based strategies.  In this sense it is not really a question of ease or expediency more of perception, extrapolation and intrinsic relationships.

    John Roloff, Landscape Projection, SeaLand 2B

    Ceramics Now Magazine: How long it takes to make a project like this? (ex: for the Overthrown exhibition)

    John Roloff: Gwen Chanzit, curator of Overthrown, visited my studio in mid- 2010 and invited me to so site research and photography in early December of that year to further develop a basic idea I was interested in to work the the central Colorado landscape and my previous knowledge of what is called the Cretaceous Interior Seaway, an broad incursion of the ocean into the middle of the North American continent about 90 million years ago and that some of the current landscape would be made of sediments deposited at that time.  The themes of Sea/Land, Land/Sea, Sea/Sea and Land/Land is intrinsic to my work.  As in this project, 6-9 months are typical due to an often complex array of research, gestation and implementation.
         

    Ceramics Now Magazine: Where can we find you and your works in the next future? What are your plans?

    John Roloff: I am working on several projects, one hopefully for the Exporatorium in San Francisco when it re-opens along waterfront, a couple of public art projects in the works for many years in Oakland, CA and Minneapolis, MN, that may come to fruition this year or next and a lot of on-going research for other works.  One thing I am hoping will happen in a panel/conversation for NCECA Seattle 2012 with John Delaney, a scientist  from the University of Washington, working on an amazing project that includes a huge array of real-time sensors gathering data on the active Juan deFuca plate off the coast of Washington – forces driving the evolution of the North Western North American landscape, the eruption of Mt St. Helens, growth and potential activity of Mt. Ranier and other Cascade Range volcanoes, etc.  

    John Roloff, Landscape Projection, SeaLand 3B

    Ceramics Now Magazine: We somehow find your works complementing Ai Weiwei’s works. You are both searching for/ and trying to learn about the human’s conditions, but you are approaching this through our Earth’s history and throught nature (unlike Ai Weiwei’s political themes). What do you think about the Ai Weiwei’s detention? (the recent crackdown on artists)

    John Roloff : For me the situation of his detention in China is first unfortunate on many levels that one could easily imagine and be sympathetic with.  At, I think, a more important level, I am interested in his situation and the relationship of risk, artistic process and the formulation of questions of our time, whether political, ecological, perceptual and/or existential.  In a way it seems natural that Ai Weiwei would be challenged by his government as his work is challenging many ideas including political ones of theirs.  My thought is to see his situation is a very broad context critical to the asking, visualization and engagement with fundamental questions for our time as well as the role of the artist in society/nature.

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    John Roloff is a visual artist who works conceptually with site, process and natural systems. He is known primarily for his outdoor kiln/furnace projects done from the late 1970’s to the early 1990’s as well as other large-scale environmental and gallery installations investigating geologic and natural phenomena. He studied geology at UC Davis, Davis, CA with Professor Eldridge Moores and others during the formative days of plate tectonics in the mid-1960’s. Subsequently, he studied art with Bob Arneson and William T. Wiley also at UC Davis in the late 1960’s. In addition to numerous environmental, site-specific installations in the US, Canada and Europe, his work has been included in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, UC Berkeley Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian Institution, Photoscene Cologne and the Venice Architectural and Art Biennales. He has received 3 artists visual arts fellowships from the NEA, a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship and a California Arts Council grant for visual artists. He is represented by the Lance Fung Gallery in NY and Gallery Paule Anglim in San Francisco. He is currently a Professor of Sculpture at the San Francisco Art Institute.

    "My work is a examination of psychological and conceptual relationships between humanity and nature, materiality and process, often evoking a poetic interplay between primal and scientific conditions.  This exploration was inspired in the work of 1970’s through the early 1990’s by qualities of the sublime evoked by the geology and natural dynamics of the North American landscape.  Since the mid-1990’s other, related issues, particularly structural and systemic relationships between landscape, architecture and technology, have increasingly characterized the work."

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    Interview by Vasi Hirdo - Editor of Ceramics Now Magazine

  • Overthrown: Martha Russo and Katie Caron, Apoptosis (detail), 2010–11

  • » Overthrown: Clay Without Limits exhibition feature

    This month we’re making a special feature for the Overthrown: Clay Without Limits exhibition, which is on view June 11 through September 18, 2011 at the Denver Art Museum.

    It’s the first feature made by Ceramics Now Magazine, and includes images from the Overthrown exhibition and interviews with 10 of the exhibiting artists, plus with the curator of the exhibition. At the end of July, we will also send a special newsletter. Subscribe here to our monthly newsletter.

    NAVIGATION (HOW TO):

    About Overthrown - About the Overthrown feature on Ceramics Now Magazine
    /Overthrown - Images from the exhibition (in High Quality).
    /Overthrown_Interviews - Interviews with 10 of the exhibiting artists.
    /nameofthe_artist (ex: /Linda_Sormin) - Images with the works of the artist you’re looking for.

    Interviews (many will be published at the end of July):

    Gwen F. Chanzit - The curator of the exhibition.

  • Overthrown: John Roloff, The Sea Within the Land/Laramide, Landscape Projection, Seascape Structure 31

  • Overthrown: Mia Mulvey, Mast Year, 2011. Stoneware, porcelain, cable ties, and pins. Photo by Jeff Wells.

  • » Coming this month: interviews with world-recognized artists

    This month we’re making a special feature for the Overthrown: Clay Without Limits exhibition at the Denver Art Museum, and these days we’re preparing the interviews with 10 of the exhibiting artists. 

    We will also make a special newsletter with this occasion. To receive it, you must subscribe to our monthly newsletter. All news regarding the feature will be tagged with /Overthrown.

    /Overthrown

  • Overthrown: Jeanne Quinn, You Are The Palace, You Are The Forest, 2011. Porcelain, glaze, lustre, wire, electrical hardware, and paint. Photo by Jeff Wells

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