Drawing her inspiration from nature, Shiyuan Xu handbuilds open porcelain compositions in an attempt to create vastness with minimal structure. The criss-crossed lines form a chaotic web, which ultimately generates a unified mass. Animating each skeletal structure, Xu has mastered both her glaze recipe and her firing to develop a series of frozen glaze tentacles mimicking growing stems or grasses reaching for the sun. The tension created between the gripping web and the pulling glaze holds the viewer's attention while drawing them around the form.
Colander, 10¼ in. (26 cm) in height, porcelain, soda fired to cone 11, 2016.
We choose the tools we use to make our work for many reasons. Kirk Jackson found that the pursuit of ceramics, and more specifically, the repetition and rhythm of throwing on the potter’s wheel, satisfies his internal need to organize and precisely manage processes. Spending time working with the clay, paying attention to the details, and going through the multiple steps needed to complete a piece inspire new ideas.
Jackson’s precision in procedures results in forms that, while controlled and succinct, generously invite interaction and use. Their personality and warmth is conveyed through the solid proportion of rims, feet, handles, spouts, and knobs, as well as the decorative elements like the concentric rings added to the shoulder of the teapot and the holes in the colander, both of which are accentuated by the soda-firing process.
Pitchers, 13 in. (33 cm) in height, thrown and altered porcelain, stamped, sprigs, slip trailed, fired to cone 6 in oxidation, 2017.
From the outset, the first thing a viewer notices about Lindsay Scypta's work is the dominance of pattern. Foot to rim decoration conjuring notions of Victorian fabrics, circumnavigate her functional forms. Additionally a combination of cool colored glazes pool in the deeper recesses of the repeated stamped pattern, allowing yet another set of patterns to emerge.
Scypta's interest in historical architecture, in particular Gothic cathedrals, can be seen in her choice of the quatrefoil stamp generally used to accentuate the wider bellies of her pouring forms. Finally, a nod to still-life genre and ornate table settings is ever present in dutifully stacked sets. Each element works in harmony with the piece next to it to exude strength and extinguish tension and fragility.
Anywhere But Here, 17 in. (43 cm) in height, handbuilt earthenware, terra sigillata, glaze, stains, fired to cone 04, 2017.
It is Travis Winters' humor, in addition to his deft skill with material, that draws the viewer in. He gives his viewers only parts of the narrative and asks them to fill in the blanks. This requirement of participation allows for open interpretation and ultimately more engagement and enthusiasm of those intrigued by the actions and environments of the figures.
His characters, stubby, naked, bald men, often have a bewildered or sardonic expression as they passively exist in ridiculous scenarios—riding exotic animals, floating in children's rafts—where scale shifts are deliberate contributions to the narrative. The soft fleshiness of the small-sized figures equipped with adult male faces, is yet another suggestive element in Winters' story. One viewer's interpretation will certainly differ from the next, which is exactly what Winters is looking for.
Kyle Johns' brightly-colored, porcelain vessels explore the cross over between functional and sculptural forms. To create his objects, Johns responds to the possibilities and limitations of his chosen process and materials. He makes and deconstructs plaster molds, which are reassembled in a new way and used to create variable forms that are slip cast with colored porcelain.
Teapot, 9 in. (23 cm) in height, wheel-thrown, handbuilt iron-rich stoneware, underglazes, glazes, fired to cone 5 in oxidation in an electric kiln, 2016.
Daydreaming in color with clouds and swooping paper airplanes is one’s immediate observation when seeing Renee LoPresti’s work. Grids of colored shapes and areas of repeated pattern are bisected with the whimsey of the paper planes’ dotted path. The carefree flight carries the viewer’s eye around the pot. The viewer is greeted with patches of opaque clouds allow the eye to rest as it ingests the surrounding surface activity. Mellow and relaxed scenes of play and fantasy are often abruptly halted by a pile of fallen planes, conjuring notions of failure and despair.
LoPresti has great skill at fitting her surface decoration to her forms. She works with feet for lift, and curved bellies and cinched waists to direct the viewer’s eye. Color and pattern allow for a cohesiveness between sets and also act as an environment for play and dreaming between sky and land.
Cultural Mutation (The Flower and the Wrestler), 24 in. (61 cm) in diameter, coil-built stoneware, fired to cone 03, 2016.
How much space do you leave between yourself and another person, or between you and an object that’s about your size? It probably depends on the moment, the context, relationships, and the size of the room you’re in. Assessing and gauging the meanings of this distance is part of the Japanese philosophy Ma (which is also a word meaning gap, space, or negative space), and it’s integral to En Iwamura’s work. He investigates how viewers’ experiences can be influenced or altered by direct interaction with site-specific installations. Do people choose to get close to the pieces to observe the details, or hang back and view them from a distance?
Through his installations, viewers can recognize their own ma, and start to deconstruct exactly what that comfort zone is based on, starting a conversation about content, preciousness of artwork, our perceptions of the formality or informality of space, or familiarity or unfamiliarity of the objects presented to us.
Cultivating Community through Shared Experiences, pottery, people, tea, conversation. Collaboration with the Mariana Kistler Beach Museum of Art, Manhattan, Kansas; former military spouses from Meadowlark Hills Retirement Community; and current military spouses from Fort Riley, 2014.
Lauren Karle’s observation that showing openness and genuine appreciation for others leads to mutual respect and cooperation has led her to use functional ceramics to connect people from different cultures and within communities. Karle organizes interactions, like the one shown to the right between military spouses of different generations, to facilitate communication and sharing of experiences in order to strengthen community ties.
The work that Karle makes is central to this experience in formal as well as conceptual ways, as the designs, patterns, and colors used are inspired by people she has interacted with. The surfaces are layered with meaning, and through use, this layering process continues as they influence experiences.
La Vidente, each one was strange, each one was known, 16 in. (41 cm) in height, porcelain, fired to cone 6 in oxidation, mixed media, 2016.
April Felipe’s mixed-media sculptures featuring masked figures in landscapes of layered (and dripping) patterns and swirling tresses open up a dialog about the ways identities are constructed, communicated, and perceived. Fabric and tile patterns, masks, and hairstyles are all used as badges and markers of identity and belonging.
What happens when you are connected to multiple cultural groups? Felipe unpacks this question with references to tales like The Ugly Duckling (which explores themes of identity and belonging based on visual stereotype), along with brightly colored floor patterns used in the Caribbean (where her parents are from), and the cultural significance of hair length, type, and style. Integrating different media reinforces the interplay between physical objects and constructed identities.
Dazzle yunomi, 3¾ in. (10 cm) in height, wood-fired stoneware, 2016.
Over time and with exposure to the elements, all things degrade. The surfaces of Chris Chaney’s vessels explore the ways that weathering and other environmental factors could work over time to reclaim discarded remnants from armed conflict.
Chaney investigates this by applying razzle-dazzle patterning, a type of camouflage used by early- to mid-20th century Allied navies, to utilitarian pots and then exposing them to wood and soda firings. The resulting surfaces, with their eroded patterns, allude to the passage of time. The disorientation caused by the scale shift of these patterns, normally used on massive surfaces but now adorning utilitarian pots, creates an open-ended dialog.