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Visual Thinking

I have often sought a through line in my work, a sense that what I am making has some common denominator. For a time I relied on the use of a material or method, but that got complicated quickly by my love of ceramics, and printmaking, and drawing, and painting, etc. I prefer not to be hemmed in by the desire for fitting myself into a category, a discipline, in spite of having worked with ceramics much of my life. So I began to look for a visual or formal language that held together across all these media. Drawing and a graphic line seems to run most coherently through my work, and yet even that falters as I find my line or my approach to materials, or my embrace of theatricality can lean hard into an expressiveness that doesn't fit neatly into a formalism that seems so popular of late. In all this incessant seeking to conform to a core identity through form making, I was reminded of the desire for freedom that art making has always been about; breaking out of the conformity of a culture that I have often felt constrained by, making a mark. And in that simple seeking of a place for free expression of form and materials and ideas, I find joy and laughter, and surprise. The core of what I make are not simply images and objects, it’s like an energy, like the artifacts of an event, a memory, a moment.

This sequence of images below began with 1,000 drawings culled from 30 years of sketch books, transformed into 41 prints, with gestural drawings of Jamón Ibérico (Spanish smoked ham legs), superimposed in four colors, abstracted and broken down into half-tone dot patterns. These prints were then cut up into 1,000 small swatches, and were papered over sculptural plinths on which various ceramic abstractions of ham and pork products were placed. Then these prints were silk-screened onto thin paper and pasted over ceramic busts, and lately these have been printed directly onto porcelain forms. An idea unfolds visually and intuitively, and I try to keep up with it, chasing it where it wants to go.
E, “Sous Les Pavés, La Plage!” (Congregation of Wits)Double-sided silkscreen print on cotton rag paper 2018 17x17 inches Edition of 40, Recto and Verso, details from one of a series of print editions included in the series Congregation of Wits, a multi-media drawing, print, animation and sculptural project exploring drawing and language.
Pentimento 21 (Patroclus Sleeping) Tin glazed stoneware modeled after a glaze recipe first used in Persia 800 CE, silkscreen print on archival paper mounted to a sheet of tin and wrapped around the ceramic bust. 2021. 26 x 16 x 16 inches I was inspired by the publication Song of Achiellies by Madeline Miller, which led me to read the Illiad, and consider the intimate relationship between Patroclus and Achilles. The historical erasure of intimacy between them is an example of how history is written by those in power. In the LGBTQ community there are too few artists who survive to be elders. The real queer coming of age is recovering ones histories; first as a viewer finding ourselves, then as a participant in the production of culture. We enfold queer traces into our creations, into our memories so we can pass them on. I made this bust of Patroclus sleeping, with a print on paper mounted to a sheet of tin draped over the face. It is an allusion to the grieving of Achiellies over his dead lover.
Congregation of Wits, Box Set (Red 1,000)Detail of A Congregation of Wits, 1,000 prints.
Sorting printsGabriel helping me sort through thousands of prints in the studio.
One thousand printsDetail of A Congregation of Wits, 1,000 prints.
AcetatesExcerpts from the print and animation project.

Exhibition: Rapture, A Queer Taste for Color, Texture and Decorative Pattern

A group show of works by eight artists presenting an ensemble of unabashedly delicate and highly decorative works that employ non-traditional craft materials and techniques to arrive at an expression of exquisite beauty that pleasures the eye and quivers the soul.

Opening Reception: Thursday April 29th: 6-8pm

On View: April 29th - May 22nd, 2021, Wednesday to Saturday, 12 - 6pm

Equity Gallery 245 Broome Street, New York, NY 10002

 

Eight gay and queer-identifying artists present an ensemble of unabashedly delicate and highly decorative works that employ non-traditional craft materials and techniques to arrive at an expression of exquisite beauty that pleasures the eye and quivers the soul. For the vast majority of our planet’s inhabitants, life in the immediate aftermath of the COVID pandemic presents an anxious premonitory landscape inciting a narrow range of fear laden and negative responses. An alternative point of view, borrowed from individuals and groups that have weathered similar perilous episodes, allows that the very nature of turbulence propels instances of revelatory phenomena with near equivalent power. Susceptibility to these epiphanic forces seems linked to an individual’s or group’s aptitude to tolerate and remain attentive to the charged dynamics swirling about them while remaining essentially intact---a “wholeness” achieved through a hyper-awareness of what constitutes the core self in relationship to the self’s aptitude for creative manufacturing --the products, affectations, and transformations that allow for adaptive survival and more importantly, unexpected flights of the spirit. For an individual, or a select group, the sum total of these adaptive expressions becomes a language onto itself---an insider argot secreting an inner strength and solidarity that confirms well-being as an achievable aspiration that shores up the individual and safeguards the group. Exuberance, by extension, becomes the best defense. The LGTBQ community, coming under the broad heading of “gay” or “queer”, well exemplifies a group having assembled a richly layered cultural expression---one that often trumpets an exaggerated theatricality of joy and ecstasy to scaffold a sheltering hope against hostile forces. The exhibition “Rapture” stages a full-on display of the avenging transcendence of gaiety as a proven tactic for disarming oppression. The show features the work of seven artists that span two generations and collectively identify as gay, queer and non-binary. Chris Tanner weaponizes triviality and decorative embellishment by deploying non-traditional materials often associated with crafting, such as embroidery, sewing notions, beads, baubles and glittery sequins, to produce intricate sculptural forms that aim to pleasure the eye with an escapist holiday replete with dazzling displays of color, form and texture. Tanner’s installation will focus on his latest driftwood transformations that are fairytale spectacles of bejeweled splendor . Andrew Cornell Robinson, a multimedia artist known to infuse his composite works with design, craft and fine art elements, will display ceramic vessels from his “My Cup Runneth Over” series. Created using traditional raku methods, a firing process initially invented for pottery intended for tea ceremonies (raku translates to “pleasure”), the pieces display dense black surfaces glazed over with shimmering jewel tones further heightened by embellishments of gold, glitter, paint and collaged paper. Peter Hristoff ’s paintings and Sean O’Conner paper constructions similarly blur the line between art and design and mimic patterns one might see in wallpapers, printed fabrics, and quilts. Both employ a collage-inspired technique; for Hristoff , we see all-encompassing, edge-to-edge compositions cast with shadowy silhouettes that activate surface effects and hint at homo-romantic intentions. O’Connor’s naïve cut-outs similarly re-contextualize silhouettes, in this instance borrowing from Grecian urns and classical motifs to arrive at surrealist figure compositions that recall the ephemeral delicacy of Jean Cocteau. Cocteau’s sighing sensual line resurfaces in Harrison Tenzer’s high-chroma graphics that speak in layered hieroglyphs about biomorphic encounters that range from the pornographic to the miraculous. Like Tenser’s drawings, Adrian Milton’s paintings and Wade Schaming’s sculptures, explore the language of abstraction to arrive at a queer aesthetic. Milton, a true child of the sixties, creates psychedelic geometries that recall the glittering flamboyance of his gender-bending drag performances as a Cockette. A magpie, Schaming hordes a wild and colorful assortment of mass- produced detritus and stockpiles it into teetering towers -- a perhaps too obvious symbol of fickle male desire and the paradox of the queer gaze which conflates prey and predator. For further information kindly contact info@nyartistsequity.org

Cultural and Material Adoption and Adaptation, Tin Glazes from East to West and back again.

A few years ago, I found myself on a very long flight from Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates returning home from a project. Tired of reading I put on my headphones and proceeded to watch Mad Men. In the scene pictured I noticed the ceramic coffee cups. Having been trained as a potter from an early age, and familiar with that type of ware, I was reminded of the first time I became curious about ceramics, and design, and how these seemingly common objects connect us to a larger world, and to human history. As a boy, I would sit with my family at the kitchen table and reach out to take a sip from a brightly colored ceramic cup that I’d drank from countless times. The bottom was an earthy red/brown and the body, the surface was glazed white and decorated in yellows, ocher and a floral pattern. There was an outline scratching through the white ground to reveal the clay body below. I found myself fascinated by this seemingly banal “every day” object that I’d never given much thought to before. Turning over the cup, I discovered it had been made in Trenton, NJ. A place not too far from where I grew up; a town whose slogan had been “Trenton Makes and the World Takes.”

Stangl famous for a type of Faience dinnerware, was America's first open stock solid-color dinnerware manufacturer. Stangl went so far as to Patent their “invention”, in spite of it being based on a tin glaze method that according to scholars like Alan Caiger-Smith, is based on innovations by 9th century Persian potters who added tin oxide to their glazes to opacify them and then paint over-glaze decorations with cobalt, iron, and copper. For over one thousand years, this technique influenced ceramic glaze methods and styles in maiolica, faience and delftware from the Islamic world and Europe across the Atlantic to the Americas.

According to the late potter and scholar Alan Caiger-Smtih, “Traditions are like rivers. The main river can be mapped and measured. Tributaries feed it… it widens and is merged with the sea. Its source is often unknown. Has the idea of a beginning any meaning except as a theoretical point on a map? So it is with the tradition of tin-glaze ware: the main tradition is clear, but the beginnings are lost to history.

Cobalt on a tin glazed bowl, Iran/IraqCobalt on a tin glazed bowl, Iran/Iraq

The earliest archeological examples can be traced back to the middle east, Mesopotamia, about the ninth century. Tin glaze potteries are thought to have existed at or near Bagdad and on the eastern bank of the Nile River south of modern Cairo, etc., but who can say there were not many others, perhaps more will be uncovered over time. That said, from the sixth century through to today we can trace a fascinating migration and evolution of ceramic techniques across the globe from China, India, Persia, the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, the Mediterranean, Europe and the Americas.

Tin glazed bowl with cobalt and copper over glaze decorationTin glazed bowl with cobalt and copper over glaze decoration

As we trace this history we might ask some questions such as:

• How do materials, motifs, and ideas travel across the globe?

• What happens when they arrive at a destination?

• How does art from one culture change or inspire the art of another?

• By considering some of these questions, we can explore the kinds of art that may be made when cultures meet.

My Cup Runneth Over 8
Plate, GermanTin glazed ceramic with cobalt over glaze decoration
Apocathary Jar, ItalianTin glazed jar
Basin, MexicanTin glazed ceramic basin
Plate, FrenchTin glazed plate with cobalt over glaze decoration
Portrait Plate, ItalianTin glazed majolica plate
Large Presentation Plate, SpanishTin and lustre glazed ceramic
Platter, EnglishTin glazed ceramic

Class: Reimagining Tableware as a Sculptural Landscape


Reimagining Tableware as a Sculptural Landscape

Changing attitudes and emerging social behaviors in food preparation and the social and cultural rituals of eating have lead to changes in the way tableware is made and used. In this short course we will explore historical and contemporary forms of table ware design. Through lectures, class discussion, research and making through drawing, modeling and prototyping in clay we will consider new categories of tableware and new roles for familiar as well as sculptural pieces. If you’re wondering what are the most appropriate forms and designs to use in your work, you’ll gain a better understanding of what’s current and gain an appreciation of the challenges and opportunities makers confront in their creative practice.

Tuesdays July 07 through August 25, 2020. 11:00 AM-1:00 PM EST
Level:  Intermediate / Advanced
Space is limited

Register online at Greenwich House Pottery

In this workshop I will focus on paper templates, slab, coil, and pinched forms used to make everything from plates and bowls to mugs and handles. We will discuss shapes as well as approaches to design, ranging from the practical and ergonomic to the poetic, and playful. 

For this workshop, you will need a computer with Zoom. Students are welcome to act upon the project prompts and try the techniques with me as we progress from week to week. I have found its best to use the class time on zoom to sit back and take notes. The sessions will be recorded and sent to students for future reference. I’m excited to invite you into my studio to share craft strategies and answer questions about the process of making. I will send an email with a Zoom link with details to registered students before the Tuesday workshops. 

This series of workshops requires a few tools. This list of suggested tools is not required for the workshop but may help when you try it on your own. 

  • Clay
  • Banding wheel
  • Scoring tool (a fork will do) 
  • Sharp knife 
  • Metal or rubber rib 
  • Small container for water 
  • Paintbrush 
  • Rolling Pin 
  • A bat or board 
  • Paper for templates (Tarpaper also known as “roofing felt” can be found at any hardware home center. Typical grades are 15 lb. and 30 lb. weight, which indicates the thickness. I like to use the sturdier 30 lb. grade for making templates for large forms.)
  • Utility Knife and/or Scissors
  • Cutting Surface (you can use a board or a self-healing cutting matt) 
  • Pencils 
  • Tape 
  • Sketchbook

Studio Visit in Quarantine

New York Artists Equity invites you to join us on a tour around multimedia artist Andrew Cornell Robinson's studio. Throughout this tour, Robinson discusses the inspirations behind his ceramics, sculptures, and prints while also sharing anecdotes about the potent disruptive power of images.

Robinson’s artwork examines and highlights the historical, collective, and often cyclical nature of the visual language of revolution and unrest. His multidisciplinary work is currently showcased in an online-only exhibition, “Andrew Cornell Robinson: The Time of Protest and Plague,” now featured on our WING project space and Artsy profile. View work from the exhibition on Artsy


Studio in the Time of Protest and Plague.
June 10, 2020 Interview with Andrew Cornell Robinson
By Michael Gormley

Andrew in the studioBehind Andrew is a pin up wall in his studio that holds over one thousand drawings culled from 30 years of sketchbooks.

Living in a city driven by artistic ambition, “What are you working on” is the go-to question meant to quickly distill the daring of one’s aspirational reach, the aesthetic value of its form and the intent and likelihood of financial success and lasting fame. In the upheaval of social unrest and pandemic, the question sizes up how one is to staying alive. Over the past three months Equity has been posting text, images and videos of pandemic projects its member artists have been engaged in.

Read the full interview with Andrew Cornell Robinson

Exhibition: Food Show

FOOD SHOW March 4th, 2020 — March 29th, 2020 Opening Reception: Wednesday, March 4th, 6pm-8pm 131 Chrystie Street, New York, NY 10002 Gallery Hours: Thursday-Sunday 1pm-8pm

Learn More

SFA Projects is proud to present FOOD SHOW, a group exhibition curated by Chantal Lee and Jeffrey Morabito. FOOD SHOW explores the relationship between people and food as it exists in the cultural imagination. The exhibition looks at how food participates as a subject today, capable of expressing personal history, cultural mythology, and collective experience; describing a still-fertile ground for the tradition of still-life. Artists include Izzy Barber, Jon Chonko, Jennifer Coates, Martin Dull, Paul Gagner, Judy Glantzman, Alex Kanevsky, Maria Liebana, Jeffrey Morabito, Joshua Nierodzinski, Aoife Pacheco, Andrew Cornell Robinson, Ivan Lamberts Samuels and Crys Yin.

Jamón Jamón II (Reliquary Loisada)2019, Slipcast ceramic, enlay and silkscreened underglaze transfer with glazed interior 16 x 7 x 7 inches.

Andrew Cornell Robinson, Jamón Jamón II (Reliquary Loisada), 2019

Since ancient times, food has measured human well-being. Across cultures, families sat down communally to eat food that corresponded with the changing seasons and that were harvested or hunted by themselves or their neighbors. What was once a slow interaction with food has been replaced by a ménage of seasons, sourced from near and distant landscapes, moving through us at the speed of light. Our food experiences today are largely brought to us anonymously by corporations that mobilize the gentrification of our homes, the food market, and with what we eat and how. Nevertheless, food has endured as a symbol of experience. Whether it is the forbidden fruit on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the apple indicating immoral indulgence of pleasure. Or Wong Kar Wai’s repeating scenes of noodle stalls in In the Mood for Love, motifs suggesting loneliness and longing. Or the Greek mythological figure of Tantalus, who is punished to forever go thirsty and hungry, despite standing in a pool of water and almost within reach of a fruit tree (the origin of the word “tantalize”). In art, food has been used as a symbol to express not only our relationships to one another, but our human nature, exposing our dreams and fears, and giving voice to our desires. FOOD SHOW is equally inspired by more recent food experiences in art and culture, particularly Gordon Matta Clark’s artist-run restaurant, FOOD, from SoHo in the 1970s; and the installation works of Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija. For FOOD, artists such as Donald Judd, Robert Rauschenberg, Philip Glass, and John Cage created meals, washed dishes, and ate at the restaurant, serving to other artist-diners who met to discuss art. The cooking and food were seen as both a performance art and a visual art, with the food “painting” the table. As well, Rirkrit Tiravanija’s works are fundamentally about bringing people together, and so created site-specific structured spaces where he cooked and served food to his gallery visitors.

Jamón Jamón II (Reliquary Loisada)2019, Slipcast ceramic, enlay and silkscreened underglaze transfer with glazed interior 16 x 7 x 7 inches.