Ceramics Now Magazine: You are presenting yourself as a sculptor even though you have a BFA in Ceramics. What are you currently working on?
Jenni Ward: Although I’ve been educated in all aspects of ceramics; pottery, functional hand-building or sculpture, I’ve chosen to focus on abstract sculptural ceramics. I feel that if I say I’m a ceramicist, people either don’t know what I’m talking about or they assume I throw pots, so I feel that introducing myself as a sculptor who works with clay is a more precise description of the work I create. Right now I’m working with organic forms that have holes cut into them and those forms have other ceramics pieces that are trapped inside. This process of trapping forms has manifested itself into multiple series of work. I’m conceptually playing with the balance between trapping and protecting an object and simultaneously exploring abstract ways to express that in clay.
Nest Series IV, 2010, ceramic & high temperature, wire, 12” x 10” 8” - View her works
What triggered the passion for ceramics in you?
I have always worked with clay, my parents still have the first coil pot I made as a kid and I just never stopped working with clay. I was lucky enough to of had an in depth ceramics program in my high school. That exposure gave me the experience to explore clay and know that it was going to be my focus at the university level. I also really love the process of working with clay; each stage that you go through from a soft malleable material to a fired finished piece offers the chance that everything can go wrong at any step in the process. Having the ability to balance control over the clay and letting what happens happen is always a battle for me that I’m very attracted to. I’m constantly learning new techniques or possibilities with clay whether it’s through taking a workshop or seeing another artist at work. Clay is a very basic, primitive material that can be used in such varied and technological ways; it’s a constant learning process.
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Ceramics Now Magazine: In your career as a ceramic artist, you took the challenge of using white porcelain in constructing complex geometrical systems. Tell us more about the motifs of your work.
I want to make people feel the passage of time over my pieces. When people see the remains of a culture or decayed buildings, they evoke special emotions. I want to express not only the ruins themselves, but also the atmosphere surrounding them and their strong presence. In other words, I want the audience to feel exactly how I felt when I looked at the destroyed buildings and ruins.
Modern Remains D II, 2006, Glazed porcelain, 21” x 22” x 9” - View his works
In what techniques do you usually work and what materials do you use?
The pieces are made out of porcelain clay. I make many hollow square tubes with slip casting and compose them before they get dry. After the biscuit firing, I apply the glaze and put them into the kiln at 2264 (F). I use the electric kiln for my white pieces.
Time is something you’ve embraced when constructing (or deconstructing) your works. What’s your works’ relation with time?
The geometric dense squares represent man-made buildings and I considered that the pieces might be able to embrace time if I break them, because the decayed geometric construction might evoke us about our far future. Since the color of white shows the lights and shadows clearly and dramatically, it maximizes the pathos and emotion of the modern ruins.