Within the Lines
The spirit of my work is that of play. The bright colors and simple black outlined shapes resemble illustration as if found in a coloring book. I choose this imagery to shroud serious and sometimes sinister stories, usually in a humorous manor. Much of this is done to entertain the viewer but equally as form of amusement and even a coping mechanism for me. Hidden imagery and dichotomy, in both visual verbally sense, always leaves something for the viewer to discover while reading the surface of these vessels.
I draw from generations of family history and experience in the machine industry. This tradition of working with and creating by hand started with my great grandfather in the thirties. Soon industry looked to mechanization and eventually became fully automated with the creation of CNC equipment. Much of the “obsolete” techniques have been discarded in favor of this new technology. I approach my hand built forms with this loss in mind. I pay homage to my forefathers and their early technology. A patchwork of surfaces textures are created with tools made from discarded items such as fabric scraps, car serpentine belts and taillight lenses. These images are tied together with stitching, casting marks and, seams symbolic of those processes which eventually consumed the industry. The form and function, while paying homage to the decorative serving vessels of a preindustrial time are enveloped by a new mindset.
We all bear evidence to our journeys, whether physically or mentally. What if we were able to see each other’s emotional baggage what would it look like? What materials would your baggage be made from? Would it be pristine, scuffed or worn down? What monograms would it display? Would it bare familiar names like Louis Vuitton, Samsonite, Nike, or perhaps Craftsman? My objective is to prompt viewers to examine their own baggage. This body of work is my exploration of these questions. The “monograms” or symbols used are not ordinarily found on baggage but hold personal significance. These symbols coupled with forms I relate to my travels allow me to investigate both positive and negative implications of baggage on the human condition. The decision to use clay as my medium is due to its ability to mimic almost any material. In an effort to explore divergent ends of this material, I am using both black stoneware and porcelain clay bodies. The choice to use black clay was made due to its ability to imitate cast iron and have the appearance of weight and durability. The surface is covered with a patchwork of colored slips to visually soften these objects and add the appearance of auto upholstery or aged leather. This look is of particular importance to me because of my machinist and automotive backgrounds. I find the contrast of the grungy industrial surface of the black clay juxtaposed to the pristine delicate porcelain surface particularly appealing. I intend the viewer to experience some discomfort while connecting with these references. It is my hope that through viewing this work people are prompted to re-examine their own baggage and perhaps mentally leave a bag or two behind.
Spring Tea Series
In Yixing, China during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 CE) the world's first teapots were created. In the years that followed, the distinctive unglazed stoneware teapots of Yixing came to be considered the "best vessel for brewing tea" by Chinese tea aficionados. This was partially due the forms being made from the special "Zisha" (purple sand) clay mined in the area. This clay occurred naturally in five different colors purple, red, black, buff yellow, and green. These teapots were renowned for their quaint charm, simplicity and naturalism in both material and form. Yixing teapots often contained simple geometry or nature themes that incorporated flowers, plants and animals. These traits urge the viewer to pick up and handle them. This is ultimately what first attracted me to Yixing teapots. Handling these forms executed with such superior craftsmanship, is what guided me as a ceramic artist. Much like Chinese potters,
I drew on generations of family history and experience. With a mechanics, fabricators, and machinists background and a family tradition steeped in the same, I approached my forms. A patchwork of surfaces was created with tools I made from discarded items such as car serpentine belts and taillight lenses. The form and function, while paying homage to the Yixing teapot, are enveloped by a new mindset. Complex surface textures, stitching, and other evidence of industry are strewn across the porcelain body. It is then layered with “Camo-carbon” slip symbolic of a byproduct of process, collected over time. The underlying details become more evident as the multi-colored glaze washes away the seemingly soiled surface.
Face Value Series
We live in a world of faux “reality”. Critics say the internet is expanding our world but the truth of it is that for young people the world is shrinking. The simple fact that youth can have so much information and “interaction” at their fingertips leads to a misguided sense of actual knowledge. Comfort can be found in the synthetic warmth of false securities such as “likes”, “followers”, “and “friend requests”. Gone are the days of coming out of one’s shell, when it’s possible to spend an entire existence inside. This body of work reflects these realities experienced when interacting with young people. Sometimes they need someone to look up to or one with whom they can relate. These characters are my exploration of these implications, but also a veil for me to hide behind as I discover my own “realities”.
Theatric character vessel is the archetype I use to create a dialog about politics, in both the governmental and relational sense. These forms all have the appearance of actors perhaps of the renaissance era but are really about people from all walks of life that manipulate for personal gain. The false front or act is put on till these individuals achieve their goal or they are called out. How fitting that the goblet became the vehicle for this body of work when origins of the word refer to “ultimate reward” and “to gulp”. Noble as this vessel is, its simply a dysfunctional cup with uncomfortable handles when it comes to serving others.