Interview with Ian Shelly, Ceramic Installation - October 2011

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

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→ 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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Interview with Ian F. Thomas, Ceramic Installation - October 2011

Interview with ceramic artist Ian F. Thomas - Ceramic Installation, October 2011

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

Ceramics Now Magazine
: You are a very creative artist, working with large scale installations, ceramic objects, sculptures, vessels and various drawings. When do you have time to transpose all your emotions and ideas into them?

Ian F. Thomas: Thank you. I obsess about ideas. My methodology for making, for creating, has me developing many works at the same time, not just in the beginning phases, the thought process, but also during the construction phase. Mold making, throwing, painting, welding, drawing, functional, non-functional—everything that happens, it all develops simultaneously. I enjoy working right up to, and, sometimes, past my limit. I view making work on all of these different platforms, using different materials, and incorporating as many ideas as I can ideas in the same way that I see conversations. Each day I have vastly different types of conversations with many different people; from humorous to serious, political to chit chat and minutiae. When an idea surfaces, the process may demand a particular size, finish, or material. Following the concept and its needs supersedes the necessity of conforming to a particular style or material. 

As a father of two, husband and professor, it is difficult to manage time. My wife, Lori, who is not an artist, has an amazing tolerance for the creatively obsessed mind. If it were not for her support, I would never find the time to work on so many projects. Working with clay, I can take advantage of the timing/drying constraints, and toggle between works, maximizing my available studio time. I have also recently taken on an assistant, Eli Blasko, to help better manage my time so that I can focus more in the studio.

Ian F Thomas Contemporary Ceramic Installation Art

Di-analytic Variables - View Ian F. Thomas’ works
Wheel-thrown, altered, hand-built, earthenware, electric fired cone 02, steel, paint, gold leaf / 38x37x30 inches, 40 lbs

How do you see this relationship between idea/intuition and the final work itself? Is it always continuous or sometimes gap comes through?

The final work is an entity all of its own. An idea starts the work and then intuition supports that idea during the development of the piece. I keep true to a cautious respect for the moment. While I’m in the process of working, my intuition may shift the work’s original intentions, or trigger a new idea(s) that can rearrange the work while I’m still in the process of making it. My idea can fluctuate as much as the physical object I’m making. Using this method, gaps occurs naturally and when that happens, I embrace that.

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Interview with Antonella Cimatti, Spotlight - October 2011

Interview with Italian ceramic artist Antonella Cimatti - Spotlight - Recognized artist, October 2011

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→ The full interview with Antonella Cimatti is featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue One / Winter 2011-2012.

Ceramics Now Magazine
: You are a very consequent artist, having worked with ceramics all your career. Why did you embark on this journey?

Antonella Cimatti: I was born in Faenza, I studied in Faenza at the “Ballardini” Art Institute and I have been teaching at this same school for over 30 years. It has just been so natural to work with this material in this city, because it’s so well known throughout the world for its ceramics.

The techniques and subjects you are approaching are very different - paperclay, fibre optic installations and low temperature. Working with so many different materials may be difficult, how do you manage to combine them?

Well, I come from Italy, a country where the artists feel the weight of our history and ceramic traditions, but where there are also many new influences from the world of design and fashion!

In fact, in the last few years, in the design and fashion sectors there has been a notable trend regarding lightness and attention to detail, which is so incredibly in line with my way of being and working.

I believe that the greatest undertaking of the artist is that of professional maintenance. As a matter of fact, along with spontaneous creativity, you indissolubly must add an elevated professional competence regarding technique; through reading and observation, the joy of experimentation, of combining, and of moving forward.

Antonella Cimatti Contemporary Ceramics

Trame di luce (Weft of Light), detail, 2008 - View Antonella Cimatti’s works
Installation with translucent porcelain paperclay, fibre optics and handbuilt  flowers in glazed porcelain, temp. 1250°C.
Exhibited at the 54th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennial, in the Italian Pavilion, for the Emilia Romagna Region. Photographed by Bernardo Ricci

Your attention to detail makes your paperclay works unique and pure within their shadows. Tell us about the constructing process.

I’ll tell you how you can, while having an idea in mind, transform and tame my technique. 
My way of working is not traditional. My objective is to create a lightness in ceramics- not only regarding weight but also visually. I need to discover the right combination of materials in order to obtain the results you see.

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Ian F. Thomas: Di-analytic Variables, Wheel-thrown, altered, hand-built, earthenware, electric fired cone 02, steel, paint, gold leaf / 38x37x30 inches, 40 lbs

Ian F. Thomas: Di-analytic Variables, Wheel-thrown, altered, hand-built, earthenware, electric fired cone 02, steel, paint, gold leaf / 38x37x30 inches, 40 lbs

Ian F. Thomas: The Eagle and the Arrow, interior detail, Plastic army men, arrows, paint, 4 inches thick

Ian F. Thomas: The Eagle and the Arrow, interior detail, Plastic army men, arrows, paint, 4 inches thick

Ian F. Thomas: The Eagle and the Arrow, Wheel-thrown porcelain, slip, gas fired cone 6, graphite, image transfer, arrows, elementary school chair, gilded brick kiln stilt, paint / 40x16x16 inches, 45 lbs

Ian F. Thomas: The Eagle and the Arrow, Wheel-thrown porcelain, slip, gas fired cone 6, graphite, image transfer, arrows, elementary school chair, gilded brick kiln stilt, paint / 40x16x16 inches, 45 lbs

Ian F. Thomas: Buttoning Buttons and Loosening Teeth, Wheel-thrown platter, solid-carved/hollowed tooth, earthenware, electric fired cone 02, paint, graphite, string, vintage doorknob / 50x20x8 inches, 12lbs

Ian F. Thomas: Buttoning Buttons and Loosening Teeth, Wheel-thrown platter, solid-carved/hollowed tooth, earthenware, electric fired cone 02, paint, graphite, string, vintage doorknob / 50x20x8 inches, 12lbs

Susan Meyer

Susan Meyer's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View her works

“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.

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Susan Meyer: unité d’habitation, 2009, laser cut acrylic, H-O scale figures, aluminum, wood, video and sound, dimensions variable

Susan Meyer: unité d’habitation, 2009, laser cut acrylic, H-O scale figures, aluminum, wood, video and sound, dimensions variable

Susan Meyer: Vinyl, 2011, Laser cut acrylic, H-O scale figures, aluminum, 35” x 10” x 10”

Susan Meyer: Vinyl, 2011, Laser cut acrylic, H-O scale figures, aluminum, 35” x 10” x 10”

Susan Meyer: nude-topia, 2005, wood, HO-scale plastic figures and mixed media with soundtrack, dimensions variable

Susan Meyer: nude-topia, 2005, wood, HO-scale plastic figures and mixed media with soundtrack, dimensions variable

Susan Meyer: work in progress (detail), 2011, concrete, cardboard, acrylic, H-O scale figures, lights and succulent plants, dimensions variable

Susan Meyer: work in progress (detail), 2011, concrete, cardboard, acrylic, H-O scale figures, lights and succulent plants, dimensions variable