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Hybrid Cluster No.8

Hybrid Cluster No.8

The primary inspiration for my work is the phenomenon of living organisms in the natural world. In particular, my focus lies in representing life forms, or critical parts of those, which appear to be in some way suspended in the fluid and space of their environment. These forms are evolving, growing, and replicating their way through their existence, paralleling that of our own. By using the limitless potential of clay, along with other materials, the pieces explore these ideas. They reveal a pleasing convolution of organic form and surface through the manipulation, distortion, and combination of disparate yet related natural elements. At the same time, in illustrating nature through the imagery of animal, botanical, and cellular biology in this way, the work becomes otherworldly yet strangely and unnervingly familiar. My intent is for the pieces to exist in a space of seamless illusion on their own accord, unfettered by the handicraft of man. A merging of fantasy and reality in the work is meant to elicit a degree of tension, furthered by qualities of somatic sensuality and formal ambiguity. In my work, these attributes visually and metaphorically relate to the human condition, and help to evoke a visceral and emotional response to our experience of the living world around us.

Hybrid Flora No. 8

Hybrid Flora No. 8

 

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ABSTRACTIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS

Analogous Radial  - 44 diameter, colored cast porcelain

Analogous Radial - 44" diameter, colored cast porcelain

 

I see my work as an investigation of the form that thought takes through an investigation of form itself. This investigation stems from an interest in the structures of both the natural world, our own and how these structures influence the way we think. I have developed a system of forms that I combine in order to examine the relationships and patterns that occur through their formal interaction. This system is derived from three sets of constituent parts. Forms are cast from three sets of colored slips. Saturation of color decreases as the scale increases much in the same way that our understanding dilutes as we consider larger ideas. Color, pattern and texture are used to further delineate individual forms within a set. This construction is currently cast from blue (rectilinear), yellow (arch) and green colored slips (cylindrical).

Placing limits on the system that I use to produce my work allows me to investigate the patterns and models we develop to understand the world we live in. The number of forms in any constituent set allows for a finite yet immense number of possible combinations. These numerical limits influence the development of pattern in basic yet profound ways. For example, a radial pattern derived from one set seems to maintain harmony successfully when it is based on an odd number, and most successfully when that number is prime. A radial pattern that is based on two sets seems most stable when based on an even number. This allows for a balanced structure, and a symmetry that exists at a larger scale. I find this to be profound in its metaphysical implications. It models how complex pattern can arise from just a few variables and how these patterns can be modeled and combined to conform to a multitude of models.

Tropical Storm

Squared Landscape: Tropical Storm

Worn under Medieval armor, chain mail is made of tiny interlocking metal rings designed to protect a body in motion. I use the chain mail pattern and other woven patterns to create ceramic works that conjure up a sense of permanence and defensive concealment. Like the ancient armor, my pieces are made of a fabric of moveable interlocking rings. Using clay to make a protective mesh is contradictory; for how can it defend anything, much less itself? Visually stone-like, the pieces appear strong and impenetrable, belying their inherent fragility.

Colorful Box - salt-fired stoneware, 6 x 11.5 x 11.5

Colorful Box - salt-fired stoneware, 6 x 11.5 x 11.5

BIOGRAPHY
Not long after I was born in 1967, my parents moved us from New York City to a farm in northwestern New Jersey. There we played in the mud, went to school and rode our horses barefoot and bareback into the pond. Until the age of 12, we also lived for half of every year in Israel.

My undergraduate degree at Rutgers University was in math. Love of math was not enough to invent new ideas in this field – unfortunately for me that also required genius. The discovery that I could be far more creative with clay than with math came to me during my last year of college and I have been proving it ever since.

Most of my ceramic knowledge comes from other artists, books and the many residencies that have provided me with a supportive and well equipped environment. They include: Hunter College in NYC, Anderson Ranch in CO, Greenwich House Pottery in NYC, Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts in ME, Chester Spring Studio in PA and University of the Arts in PA.

When not working in my studio I teach at The Art School at Old Church in NJ.

The new works in the Propaganda series continue the themes established in the Gods of Commerce series, but focus on the selling of ideology or “truth” rather than the sale of products. In the Gods of Commerce works, I concentrated on using pre-existing trademarks and logos that used mythology as a means of establishing a sales platform for current consumer culture and products. With the Propaganda series I have widened the net from products to ideology and the permeable nature of truth. The best efforts of painters, writers and graphic designers have historically been used to promote often diametrically opposed versions of “truth”. Like mythology or religion the version of political truth that becomes the most accepted, or the most popular in a society frequently reigns as indisputable; at least until the next paradigm shift.

 

Virgin Venus 42 x 20 Stoneware with oxides, glaze and underglaze. 2008

"Virgin Venus" 42 x 20" Stoneware with oxides, glaze and underglaze. 2008

The connection to Pop Art in this new work remains strong. I use images and words taken from actual propaganda posters from a variety of countries and put them together in graphically interesting ways. In some ways propaganda appeals to the lowest common denominator in any country in the same way as flashy ad campaigns or cartoon strips, they work best if the viewer reacts without thinking too much. The similarities between German, American, Chinese, Korean, Russian, and Japanese propaganda are amazing. Each country preys upon the fear of the other. Each country uses racial profiling to demean the enemy. Each country calls up patriotic fervor to defend the motherland and its way of life. Each country calls for the support of its citizens for the army and a common goal. In the 1960’s Andy Warhol used images of Chairman Mao as part of a wildly successful capitalist, market-driven campaign to rule the “art world”, thus creating an amazing and lasting bit of visual irony. I have revisited the consumerist vs. capitalist argument and enlarged it to bring into focus the irony of polemic truths living side-by-side on the same tea pot.