The show, Contemporary Currents 2018 will include both functional and sculptural work in clay created by an array of notable artists. The exhibition will coincide with American Craft Week, a national event celebrating and promoting American craft. A project of C.R.A.F.T (Craft Retailers and Artists for Tomorrow) it is sponsored by several respected organizations including the American Craft Council.
What I find beautiful tends to be found in the simplest interaction between color and form. Through abstraction I’m able to find visual simplicities that are romantic, stimulating and beautiful, like an effortless reflection of light off a metallic surface. My work uses this aesthetic language as a way to contemplate hope, fear, and longing. In making, I translate my fears into optimism by creating works that attempt to fill my void.
The female form, and my own biological phenomenon informs my work. The concept of family reproduction is part of my genetic blueprint. For some women, uncontrollable circumstances can impact these cultural expectations. The wonders, but challenging facets within my own body has led me to work abstractly to ponder fecundity. While doing so the work represents different stages of the human embryo, the multiplying notion of ovarian follicles and gives emotion a physical form. As I conceal intimate moments and reveal joyous hopes, I ponder veiled and exposed emotions. Through the use of scale my work inhabits these notions and embraces the physical transformation of these sentiments.
The things I observe while I obsessively garden, growing as much food as I can and making it look good while it grows, inspire me. I find the varying juxtapositions of forms and patterns in nature compelling and aim to capture that duality in my work. I work with porcelain, combining hand-building and wheel-throwing to create objects that strike a balance between utility and aesthetics. My pots are functional and intended to be used. Each pot is unique, and I am constantly exploring new forms and glazes.
I am interested in a language of associations, hinting at meanings without using literal description. Objects are the visual sounds of this language. When placed together these words form a sentence, a poem, and a kind of narrative with its own internal logic. The pieces look like . . . feel like . . . sound like . . . but cannot be consciously identified or named.
The work is generally large-scale handbuilt sculpture, and the format varies between wall-work and freestanding elements. Ceramic forms are used as a sculptural canvas to draw on, creating interplay between painting and form. Sources of inspiration include man-made artifacts such as grave goods and maps, and elements of the natural world.
The boundary between two and three dimensions is an important aspect of the work. Three-dimensional objects are concrete and real, whereas the world of painted images is illusory. The shadow of a tree moves and changes, it is ephemeral, but the tree itself is tangible and physically present. I seek to capture this juxtaposition: between familiar and indistinct, and between real and intangible.
My work consists primarily of wheel thrown functional stoneware. For me, the fun is in the forming of the vessel. I find the tactile feeling of the clay in my hands as it passes through my fingers reassuring and relaxing. When I’m finished throwing a pot or have just removed it from the wheel, for me at least, it is at the pinnacle of it’s beauty. It feels alive and still full of limitless possibilities. As it goes from wet to dry, some of that vitality evaporates as well. The application of a glaze layer is an attempt to recapture some of that initial beauty.
Over the years I have experimented in a variety of firing temperatures and techniques. But one technique I avoided all of those years was crystalline glazing. I had convinced myself that it was gimmicky or too fussy. I had read about it’s fickleness and high rate of failure. After all, pottery of any type is far from a given. Failure can occur at every stage of the process. Why invite more unpredictability? I think I initially started experimenting just to gain some insight and cross it off of the list and move on. But there is something about the almost random nature of crystal formation that appeals to me.
The process is as follows: As the temperature of glaze is increased, all the components begin to melt together. When the glaze is at the proper temperature, “seeds” begin to form in it. As the glaze reaches its maximum temperature, it begins to flow and many of the seeds dissolve. The kiln temperature is then lowered. When the temperature reaches the correct range the remaining seeds, acting somewhat like magnets, attract appropriate minerals in the glaze and the crystals grow on the seeds. The longer the temperature is held the larger the crystals grow. I am not a chemist, my approach is more akin to a baker following recipes from others and tweaking them to see what will happen. When everything works, it can result in a pot that meets, or in rare instances exceeds, the beauty of that pot when it was first created.
After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology I pursued a career in Advertising Production. But a pottery class at Parsons lead me on a different path. I felt an instant connection to clay and was compelled to learn more about it. I went and studied with many potters exploring various techniques and felt most connected to porcelain and the Japanese aesthetic. Food presentation on artfully hand made tableware.
During this clay focused journey, I was offered an opportunity to teach adult ceramics classes at the Silvermine School of Art for 10 years. During that time I built my Westport, CT studio and designed and developed my line of porcelain and glass tableware inspired by nature and food. My work has been sold in many Fine Craft venues including museum shops, Craft Shows and retailers throughout the USA. My designs have been featured in a tableware project with Anthropologie and was sold in all of their stores in the US and abroad. I continue to grow as an artist and designer inspired by the community that serving food to family and friends brings to the table.
Born in upstate New York and raised in the Hudson Valley, Nicholas grew up playing in the woods and building forts out of found materials. MTV and trips to the MoMA piqued his interest in pop culture. After sculpting clay creations in summer art classes, Nicholas looked to the arts to explore the overlap of design and nature.
Years of study at the potter’s wheel led Nicholas on a journey of apprenticing and working under master potters, commercial product development, and teaching ceramic arts.
Today, Nicholas utilizes time-tested production techniques to make collections of whimsically decorated tableware and elegant accessories. Each item is made using a combination of slip casting, wheel throwing, and handbuilding techniques in his Brooklyn, NY studio.
Architecture has long dictated the direction of my work. First I focused on the water towers and the industrial buildings of the Brooklyn of my home and studio. Later after travel, the beauty of the Tuscan hill towns attracted me. Most recently, Moorish elements from Spain and the Mid East have found their way into the mix. These latest architectural fantasies created in porcelain seem to grow out of the desert. I call them Sandcastles.
Daniel Bellow makes pottery by hand in his studio in Great Barrington, Mass, and sells to finer galleries and stores nationwide. He was the kid in high school who hid out in the ceramics studio and haunted the second floor landing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they keep the Chinese porcelains. He won the art prize his senior year, and went on to apprentice with Tom White in Northfield, Massachusetts and study with Mary Risley at Wesleyan University.
Thinking he needed a real job, he became a newspaper reporter. When newspapers went the way of the buggy whip business, he decided that if Paul Gauguin could quit his job to become an artist at 37, so could he. Instead of going off to Tahiti to drink himself to death he built a large kiln in his backyard. His ceramic work has been sold at Anthropologie, the Museum of Art and Design in New York, the Barnes Museum in Philadelphia, and dozens of smaller galleries. He teaches at the Great Barrington Waldorf High School and at his own studio