Sunday, June 17, 2007

Megan's work 6/07


I strive to make work which communicates, challenges and fulfills. The inspiration for my ceramic work originates in geometrical forms that appear in the landscape – the march of high tension power lines across a field, or a piece of razor wire tracing itself against the sky. These images are a reminder of the impact of humans on this planet, yet they also intrigue and satisfy me with their straight lines and complex angles. In clay, I impose geometrical form and imagery on complex woodfired surfaces. I attempt to duplicate what I see around me, and explore the duality of my admiration and fear of the alterations that surround me and to which I am intrinsically connected.

As my exploration of the work has deepened, I have come to realize that it is also an examination of the boundaries within my relationship to other people and to myself. My pots stand as metaphors and as a reflection of my inner world. With their holes, doors and windows, they are both inviting and gated. Windows and fences are dominant images in my work because they divide space, serving as both boundary and opening.

Wood firing is an important part of my process. It removes my control over the final surface of the piece, while also allowing me to be more intimately involved in the firing process than is possible with an electric or gas kiln. It makes me both more and less part of the piece. By the end of the firing, it has passed through an experience which leaves it distinctly changed and marked; once it passes out of my hands, it will again take on its own life in someone else’s hands. It is this blurring of boundary between maker and user which fuels my interest in functional work.


critial ceramics said...

congratulations on your scholarship award, I would love to hear about some of the discussion points in your class, it is going a mentally exhausting class. Good luck

critial ceramics said...

artist statement: I thought your references to fences and windows, real world objects, were very helpful in understating the direction your work is moving. I am glad to see that you wrote about your firing processs and how it is such an intentional choice and an important effect in your process. I feel like woodfiring is in vogue, but in your work it is part of your process. Your work: I really wanted to move around your objects, see all sides, and pick them up, and judge there weight. The slides look good, but still your work really drove me to want to run my fingers over them, feel texture, feel glaze drips, and touch the open small spaces, the rims and window edges. just wanted to touch! I visually enjoy your mugs but I couldn't image putting my lips to them or drinking from them (to scrathy, but maybe something I shouldn't judge without actually drinking from them). I did not think they were as successful as the the other pieces. I think the color and the surface is amazing. great orange and pinks, nice varations from piece to piece and love the white bottles and rims. The four vases: I love finish and there textures but, I think that is what carries them. The shapes could maybe be refined more, sharper? stronger? The hanging bottle with cups: Does it hang on a wall? I feel it is really succesful but maybe, would like to see the cups "pop" as much as the bottle does, different glaze or surface on cups so they stand out from there stand? teapot with cup: would like to hear your thoughts behind it, but agian my desire to touch and move around it was huge! I really like the window box? for me it was a nontraditonal teapot with tray/server that held the cup. good luck at the ranch MOnicA

Kip said...

Hi Megan -- Sorry I'm so late in my response to your work...

I've really enjoyed looking at your pots the past few weeks. I'll just jump right in to what struck me most, which was the hanging bottle and cups -- I love them! I would really be interested to hear about where they came from. What inspired you with that piece? I enjoyed seeing them both mounted and separate from the base -- in each case I felt like the visual impact was strong. The one thing I wondered about was the act of sliding the individual pieces onto the posts. Have you ever done anything with tooldip? I could see the posts being dipped in the black rubber...

It was also interesting to see this work in light of your artist statement. Your connection to geometry and nature is well written and well executed in your work, too. I do wonder about what the way you incorporate man-made elements into your work says about how you feel about those elements. For me, I see the pots as nature -- especially considering their wood fired treatment. In some, you have the cut out areas with fencing beneath, where it almost becomes purely pattern. I'm seeing these man-made forms below what I see as nature (with the way the pattern is created, it looks as though it would continue around the entire piece if we uncovered it...). Are you seeing these fences as a window into what lies beneath, or imposed into the surface? Do you want to make a comment on human society and nature, or are you sticking purely to line and form?

I also found the teapot and cup interesting to think about. This seems to fall more in the relm of the personal that you mentioned in your artist statement. I like the way the teapot looks as though it's standing guard over the caged cup -- have you done any where you swap the two and put the cup in charge? Again, I think it's interesting to see how thses pieces change when they are removed from their stands.

Overall, the pieces with multiple components where what stood out for me most. I would certainly pursue the hanging bottles and the caged (or windowed?) teasets. The vases wern't quite as strong for me in terms of story telling, but have a lovely combination of surface and form.

I hope all is going well with the new kiln, your pots are certainly looking great!


mel said...

finally back from the ranch, ready to comment. sorry for the delay. i, also, require that you take full notes in the "graduate school, a reality check" lecture... :)

on to the pots. first of all, i can't belive how much your work has moved forward, seeming to me to embrace the woodfire kiln even further. its like you and the kiln are connected somehow. i'm glad that you talk about it in your artist statement... if there's any way to communicate in words the passion you feel for firing a kiln with wood, you need to do it. ironically, i think that paragraph was the least strong... it talks about some important things, but does not to me communicate the true love you feel for working that way, for the crazy situations it has gotten you into, etc. maybe that's not what you want to talk about, but i feel like for me, having worked with you, there is something missing in your statement without it.
as far as the work goes, the hanging bottles and cups and the teapot/cup/cage were obviously the strongest. they are innovative, interesting, and thought provoking. they do a better job of creating tension between round and straight, full and empty, circle and square. the windows and spaces are real and tangible, and to me that is much more effective than the ones with the patterns in them. i also like the vase with the holes in it, but want the lines involved to be more straight... i dont' know if you can even do that in a wood kiln without warping, but to me the round, empty holes would be more effective in a form made of severly straight lines. the other way of putting the pattern of what looks like a chain link fence in isn't working for me. it might be because the forms into which they are inserted are themselves relatively straight and controlled... what if they were in round pots?
this might be totally my own interpretation and none of what you intended, and if so, just ignore me. but seeing these pots really made me begin to understand something new. there are these well controlled pots, these narrow, somewhat straight pots, with gaping, round holes in them. in your artist statment, can you talk about control? about holes? not necessarily windows, but big black holes? they are sometimes functional, sometimes glaringly not functional but the pot itself still seems to work just fine. remember the spikes and spines? they seem to be remeniscent of what you're doing here. i think you're onto something big and juicy, and wonder if you feel that way too. or maybe your life is just out of control and you don't have the time or space to feel anything at all? ;) :) (hope i didn't just get too personal on the blooooog...)

critial ceramics said...

Hi megan, it's martina...

so being last, my comments reiterate much of what has gone before.
It is interesting to read that we all responded positively to the cups on pegs and teapot with 'window' base. For me the other pot that is strong is also the vase with the holes through it. I wonder how you could bring the same level of innovation and contrasts that are evident in the sets into your singular vases and cups.

In the vases and cups i would
continue to play with placement and scale of both pattern and window.

I thought the first two paragraphs of the statement were well ordered and really gave me a sense of both your inspiration and direction.
With landscape as your inspiration you talk of vast spaces and lines that continue forever (i.e. power lines) while you go on to talk about the personal and private - windows and fences. i wonder if you've played with a way to incorporate both onto a single piece, or group.

As a past woodfire-er myself, i agree that wood-firing can remove control over the final surface. However, there have been some very intentional decisions made before your pot ever gets hit be flame - from clay body, decoration, placement in kiln, type of wood, length of firing. I know some of these are out of your control because of the communal firings you take part in, but many of them are decisions you made. i remember you exploring other bodies for a color you wanted in the kiln. so i guess in a long winded way, I'm saying that i would like more information about the control you do have and how that effects the finished product. Wood firing, as monica says, is in vogue, but you are truly dedicated to it and i think your statement should also serve to show how much you know about it and how invested you truly are. does that make any sense?

I look forward to seeing you this weekend...