Sunday, May 13, 2007

Martina's turn

So here are my images; basically arranged chronologically. To give a sense of scale, the basket is 10.5" high. The larger blue pitcher is of similar height, the 'bubble bowls' are about 4 - 6" wide. The group of three are vases really, even though they appear to masquerade as tumblers.


Things that I love involve crisp sharpness – the bite of a bittersweet dark chocolate, the sting of the breeze on a sunny day in late fall and the unavoidable boldness of the color red. These things also contain within them the memory of childhood, comfort and confidence of life ahead.

It seems in retrospect that my pots have served to emphasize this crisp severity removed from the mark of the handmade. I feel my early earthenware pots have failed to capture the softness and subtle irregularity that serve to emphasize the handmade object in today’s machine made world.

In this spirit, I have begun to explore looser thrown forms, less defined decoration and satin glazes to invite the touch. I am learning it is contrary to my nature to allow glazes to run, lines to blur and edges to wobble. It takes me greater concentration to bring an irregular pot into being than a tight one. I continue to strengthen my forms by consciously incorporating elements throughout foot, handle and rim.


critial ceramics said...

Martina! It's Megan here(since I'm just signed in as 'critical ceramics) It's great to see where your work has taken you since seeing you at NCECA.

As I mentioned on the phone, I dreamt about your 'bubble' bowls after I looked at them last night, so they obviously made an impression.
I REALLY love the bowls and I really like the mugs as well. The glazes overall seem a lot juicier -- like I want to sink my teeth into them and shake them around.

The mugs -- I like the chunky foot that is elevated from the ground, the unevenness of the rim and excitement of the stripes. I think the looseness that you have been looking for really comes through in them. Oh, and I like the handles too.

The bowls -- they look extremely edible and extremely exciting to eat out of. Donuts, chocolate. Need I go on? (maybe I should eat some food before I continue)

I'm not as excited about the pitchers. I think the handle and the spouts aren't working for me. What about using the foot from the mugs on more pieces? The spouts seem like they could be larger and beefier and I think I want them to start lower on the body of the pitcher. As for the handles -- I don't think I like the handles that make an ear shape. Because the weight is further up in the pitcher because of their shape, I would want a handle lower in the body of the pitcher instead of having my hand so far up. I would have to pour from it to really know if I am right in this thinking. Aesthetically they feel too stylized for my tastes.

I like the way you have left the earthenware color around the rims and the handles. I'd be interested to see what it would like to have a smattering of the flower decoration you were using in conjunction with the looser glazing.

As far as the artist statement -- hmmm. It seems somewhat specific to this group/ someone who knows the course of your work than a random passerby. In other words, referring to past work as having 'failed to capture' (or failed at anything) is probably not appropriate artist statement wordage. However, I understand it in the context of understanding what you are currently exploring in your work, in contrast with the past two years. On an initial read, the words "crisp sharpness" in the opening sentence do not correspond to what I was seeing -- nor are they supposed to. But if you love crisp sharpness, why are you in pursuit of a looser aesthetic? Is it good for us to do things which are contrary to our nature? (I don't know the answer to these questions. You'll have to ask Walter Ostrom) In any case, some of your new work definitely has warmth, and invites touch and appetite in a very appealing way.

OK, this is the end of my novella. You did not ask for feedback on any specific area, but if you would like my to expand on anything, just let me know.

Mel said...

hello martina,

our paths have not yet crossed, yet i feel somehow as if i know you! i was just at the strictly functional exhibit, and saw your vase. congratulations- that's fantastic!

i will say, though, that to me, this more current work is much stronger than that vase. i love it, and it seems to have much more confidence. also, there is tension, which i believe is elemental to beauty. despite drips and what feels to you like a more loose decorating method, the simplicity of the solid colors and stripes really contrasts well for me with the looseness in the throwing. a good example is the second to last pitcher, the shorter, yellow one. the solid stripes of both the bare clay and the blue really work well with the motion in the pitcher. the spout is larger and more generous than the other pitchers, which i think is also strong. and i very much like this handle- to me it balances and brings life to the pot. probably the opposite of what megan said, but what can you do.

the other pitchers, though, were not as strong for me. the rim on the blue one isn't leaning in the same way that the yellow one is, which to me makes it a lot more static. the other handles, i think, could just use a more calligraphic line- more variation. as i said before, i think the tension is created between the bold, thick, colors and the looser forms. i think the mugs are the stongest, the most clear and well developed. i also like the simpler bowls. i think i would have to see the bubble bowls in real life in order to form an impression, but they look cool stacked! :)

and i have a technical question for you that i very much hope you'll answer. on the exposed rims, is there anything on there at all? it looks like there's something, but it might be the photo. i love the color of the clay, and am wondering how you got it.

as far as the artist statement goes, i really don't know what to say. i'm not experienced writing them (as you will soon find out), and i'm not really sure what they should sound like. i will say, though, that criticizing your past efforts doesn't feel like a good idea in a statement. its interesting to me, but maybe doesn't belong there.

hope this all makes sense! if it doesn't, email, of course. :)


Kip said...

Hi Martina –
It is wonderful to finally see some new images of your work. Descriptions over the phone just don’t do these pots justice!

I, too, really enjoy the bubble bowls. The combination of the luscious clay with the shiny glazed surface seems ideal for holding and eating. I could see those being great for a party where you are mingling while nibbling food or those mornings where I’m eating my cereal and running around the apartment trying to get ready. They’re fantastic…

I’m going to differ in opinion a bit on the pitchers. I think the two yellow pitchers are quite successful. I especially enjoy the surface on the first yellow one – the way the glaze picks up the swirling slip - it has a lot of depth and movement. I’m not quite as interested by the flatter surface on the second yellow pitcher, but I do enjoy the light blue lines, they have a very intentional look to them. Something that sets these two apart for me is their downward sloping rim. First off, I love that soft, rolled edge. And for me, your decision to angle the rim creates a more active line. The spouts continue to stretch the same plane, drawing my eye across the curve of the lip.

I second the mugs, too. They seem so Martina, and yet so different… And they have this wonderful buoy around their bases. They look as though you could toss them in water and they would float! Love ‘em.

The pieces that aren’t working as well for me are the vases. They don’t have quite the same confident feel as other pieces – like you had to really concentrate to make them wobble. Which, from your artist statement and the Martina work I’m used to, is probably the case! I do like where your headed with the one on the right though – some bubble feet??

Overall, Martina, I think this work is heading in a really interesting direction. At this point, it seems like your artist statement and your work are not quite in tune though. I think the suggestion to leave anything negative out of your statement is a good one. And I’m wondering about that “crisp sharpness” too. But then you do talk about how that sharpness has removed the handmade qualities. Perhaps you’re not as interested in the crispness anymore? And I dunno, all of the pots I remember from MT had some wobble to them; do you really think wobble is contrary to your nature?? Hmm. As a fellow Germanite, I can certainly understand the “crisp sharpness” tendencies!

I must say, all these wonderful surface sure do make me want to glaze!

critial ceramics said...

matiana- love the mugs, liked the tumblers the least. From past converstations I know you are trying to work less stiff but for me the tumblers came off a little sloppy looking. I felt the basket shape worked really well especailly the curve in the basket shape. You know how I fell about the mugs. LOve them. I think they are successful in being both less stiff and still a reflection of your style. The bubble bowls, lacked matina, they appeared to me more as a saucer then a bowl. My over all thought was that you are trying a new style that isn't yet reflecting your style, which you have a lot of. I also think you are on the cusp of something big, keep pushing. MONIcA