I met Master Lin the day I arrived in China. On my travelers high I tried to keep up with this mans energy and enthusiasm. The encounter began with my first official tea. A wild ceremony of splashing water and clinking cups. The tea goes from water kettle, to teapot, to small strainer pitcher then finally to your tiny teacup. I was entranced, mesmerized by the sounds, and in awe of the perfect porcelain pieces.
Porcelain is the softest smoothest most sensual of all clays. It has an ethereal otherworldly quality. Its lightness makes you want to pick it up. Its smoothness is skin like and seductive. I love its vibrant white ground which shows off slips and glazes like no other clay.
In China they don’t even call porcelain “clay”. They call it Cí, which does not translate into a western word. Porcelain is a French word meaning “cowrie shell”, a shell that has the luster of porcelain and was used as currency by traders who shipped Cí. In the US we call porcelain “china” which is weird, and gives you a sense of my first few weeks of being lost in translation in Dehua, China where I was an Artist in Residence at The Blanc de Chine.
Within my first 12 hours of arriving in China I was introduced to the man that would guide me for the next month and a half, Master Lin, the warmest most sensitive person an exhausted newbie like myself could encounter.
So excited to be invited to Blanc de Chine International Artist Residency, Dehua, China. All porcelain. All white. I have no idea what I’m getting myself into but I do have my travel visa. Stay tuned.
Camille Henrot's pieces remind me of a mother who has gone ape shit. Her powerful installations have the suggestion of order and domesticity except they have exploded. Her organized abandon leave me curious to know more about the experience. A delicate line for visual artists.
Kali creator and destroyer of time.
I am very attracted to art objects that are imbued with an internal life. I think one of the things that first attracted me to ceramics was the intrinsically implied life force of the vessel. The container that carries the metaphor for that which can carry, hold, protect and create life.
Ruth Asawa's work has a motherly quality. It has a sense of feminine protection, form holding form- protector of children and nature. Her enclosed pods have a gentile embracing vibe. They are soothing whole objects, self contained and autonomous.
Martin Puryear's work also captures an internal life but in a different way. Pleasing to the eye yet charged with an aggressiveness. His pieces feel like they are on the verge of exploding. He creates volumetric tensions that push out into space. Thrilling powerful forms.
Just like dance, pottery has its daily practice. You warm up with some standard shapes, cups perhaps, and then move on to more complex forms. The adagio happens when all your haptic muscles are warmed and you can effortlessly flow through forms. Beyond touch, your mind and expression are all synced up.
For me Picasso was always the ultimate vision of an artist who luxuriated in an endless flow of creativity, basically he was always warmed up. He is my romantic vision of an artist at peak performance perfecting and re ordering imagery.
Picasso jumped back and forth between 2D & 3D drawing. The energy of his 2D work is enhanced in clay because he could literally dig into it. Weight of line takes on a new meaning when clay is involved. Edges, corners, turns, and diminishing points become physical form that control space.
I can remember the first time I saw a Hans Coper pot. How powerful and otherworldly it was! A perfect sculptural vessel. His work was modern and timeless at the same time just like the ancient pots I had admired at the Met.
Calder like Coper was feeding off the european trends set by Mondrian and the Bauhaus thirty years earlier. As abstract as this work may appear it is all formally based and touches that internal core that influences my work.
The underlying sense of form in my work has been the system of the universe, or part thereof. For that is a rather large model to work from.
- Alexander Calder
I think most artists have a few nagging images that are stuck in their minds whenever they create. For me it has been Indra's net.
The following parable from the Buddhist canon provides a beautiful visual metaphor for the interdependence and interpenetration of all phenomena.
Suspended above the palace of Indra, the Buddhist god who symbolizes the natural forces that protect and nurture life, is an enormous net. A brilliant jewel is attached to each of the knots of the net. Each jewel contains and reflects the image of all the other jewels in the net, which sparkles in the magnificence of its totality.
When we learn to recognize what Thoreau refers to as "the infinite extent of our relations," we can trace the strands of mutually supportive life, and discover there the glittering jewels of our global neighbors. Buddhism seeks to cultivate wisdom grounded in this kind of empathetic resonance with all forms of life.
- from "Thoughts on Education for Global Citizenship", a lecture given by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda at Columbia University on June 13, 1996.
I have fallen asleep during more Cunningham and Cunningham-inspired dance performances than I care to mention but I would be remiss to exclude him. I love that he connected with John Cage and Robert Rauschenberg but by far my favorite thinker in his circle was Joseph Campbell. Campbell made all the connections that Merces randomness seemed to purposely miss.
Collaborators Martha Graham and Isamu Noguchi understood the psychological space form could embody.
Only a handful of artists have captured nature's power as succinctly as Karl Blossfeldt. The highly focused intensity of these photos hit you deep in the gut. He is able to extract the essence of a natural object without dominating it: quite the opposite, the artist disappears, and the awesomeness of nature humbles the viewer. A delicate flower takes on the steeliness of the machine age.
Modern master Eric Hawkins classic quote, "The body is a clear place." says it all. Pure abstraction grounded in one of the most difficult dance techniques. Dancer as shaman or conduit for expression.
The 1930's era of Buzby Berkeley movies were rife with chauvinism but also produced incredible psychedelic visions. My grandmother, the most liberal and independent woman I have ever met embodied these glamorous times. I am forever looking back at the 1930's for design inspiration and once in a while I slip on my grandmothers silk deco nightgown and float around my bedroom. Watch this beautiful movie clip!
As a budding ballerina I understood the incredible power of structure behind ballet form. The hours of practice to create effortless movement. Rehearsing placement and syncopation so every space on the stage was accounted for. The overall architecture of a piece was set so the form and content was left to come alive.
This is clay poetics.