As a counterpart to my vibrant palette, this monochromatic work was born from the desire to pair down color without sacrificing content. I refer to these pots as my winter collection, inspired by the 11 years I lived in Alaska. Subtle shifts of hue and texture intrigue me and motivate further investigation.
Instead of applying imagery by painting multiple glazes onto bisque-ware, the decoration of this work is applied at the leather-hard stage with the intent of using one glaze that will break and pool over the designs. In some cases, slip/engobe trailed motifs are partnered with carved lines. The combination of raised and incised designs creates a tactile, textural surface, keeping with what I ultimately strive for: a meaningful experience.
A. Blair Clemo
The work available in my shop this month is the product of a recent artist residency I did at the International Ceramics Studio in Kecskemét, Hungary. As part of an International Partnership grant from NCECA, I went to the ICS to explore new work in porcelain. I have done a few international residencies before, lugging a suitcase of specific tools, supplies and plaster molds that always approaches the baggage weight limit. For this residency however, I packed light, bringing with me only basic clay tools and leaving behind any expectations of what form my studio time would take. This seemed like a simple and straightforward way to experiment, but it has ended up issuing some really strong challenges to my current studio practice.
After a few weeks spent with porcelain, I have been thinking about material a lot in the month or so since my residency. My current brown claybody has been the standard in my studio for about 4 years now, ever since I developed it in graduate school. As I look at my studio output over these last few years, it is remarkable how many other decisions about how and what I make are dictated by that initial choice of clay. My claybody is smooth, without grog or sand making some forms difficult to achieve or fire successfully, limiting the techniques I use and the objects I make. The clay is dark, affecting how glazes will be expressed on the surface, determining my palette. My clay is rooted in a particular historical context that keeps me circling around similar ideas in the work. That one choice of material, as simple as it seems, is responsible for many of the visual and conceptual qualities that are consistent in my work. I’m not knocking consistency, it is paramount to my practice to be able to anticipate outcomes and generate a body of work that makes sense when viewed together. However, as I continue to settle into my new studio and contemplate new work, I may need to start with a slightly cleaner slate than the brown body that has become my beaten path. If I really want to challenge myself in the studio and push the work forward, perhaps I need to start with a test kiln rather than a sketchbook.
That is why this residency was so influential for me. It was a seemingly simple shift in material that called into question all the making decisions that I usually answer automatically. The work on my shop page is experimental, the tangible results of a new line of questioning.