Thursday, December 6, 2007

Ruth's Post

hello everyone,
This is my most recent artist statement. I hope it give a little insite to what I am currently working on, which is different then my pieces I did throughout college. In the past I have uses geometric designs on large areas. Only recently I have simplified a lot by adding this texture and design just to a stripe here and there.

As far back as I can remember appreciating art has always been part of my family. My mother would bring me to museums for what felt like days at a time. Beauty is what attracted me to the art I found on these trips, like Monet, Chagall, and Degas, but I was only allowed to examine them with my eyes. While in high school I began working with clay and was excited when I discovered that there was a way to create artwork that could be held, used and enjoyed, not just looked at. Having developed my skills, I still focus on these qualities creating dinner sets that are removed from the protective china cabinet. My pots reflect the classic patterns and intricate designs of elegant English china or delicate Greek pottery but are also made to endure the stress of a busy household. To heighten the experience of touch, my patterns are created with stamping, faceting and slip trailing to create interesting textures. In creating attractive and functional ceramic ware, I hope to bring art to the table.


Kip said...

Hi Ruth -
First off, I really enjoy the way your use of simple glazes highlights the forms you are working with. I am often frustrated by the way glazes hide form, but your minimal surface treatment emphasizes rather than blankets your shapes. These pots definitely make me want to pick them up and run my fingers over the surface.

In terms of really showing off your sprinklings of texture, I think changing the angle on your lighting would emphasize your delicate decoration more obviously. Photographing light surfaces is really tough - it is so easy for the piece to become a little washed out. I would also suggest tightening up your frame a bit, so that you have more pot and less background. Maybe some detail shots of your textured areas as well?

In terms of the decorative pattern itself, you seem to work with texture primarily in the vertical plane – perhaps you could wrap the pattern horizontally, too? What about carrying the texture onto the handle, the foot, or the inside of your cups? Maybe you could alter some rims to reflect the textured areas as well (scalloping or cutting, etc). In terms of the quantity of pattern, it would be interesting to know more about why you’ve decided to simplify your surfaces. Maybe you could post some of your older images so we can get an idea of how your treatment of the surface is changing.

It is interesting to me that you have all transparently glazed pots and then a wood fired piece at the end. Are you thinking about heading in the direction of wood firing, or do you think you’ll continue with the clear transparents and celadons? I do like the simple glazing, but it could be interesting to use some small bursts of color to highlight texture in places. What about glazing all of a pot but the textured area, putting it in the wood kiln and letting the ash highlight that texture?

In terms of your statement, I think that you give good reasoning for your pursuit of functional pots and I like your goal of bringing art to the table. I do think it appears your work would stand up well to daily use, and the white surface would set off food and drink well. Something that would make your statement stronger for me would be a few more sentences regarding your interest in English china and Greek pottery and how they impact your current work. Are there other things you draw from as well? Feelings that you are trying to evoke? I know this is all easier said than done – these are all things I struggle with as I work on my own statement…

I hope some of this is helpful – let me know if anything needs more explanation.
Thanks again for joining us!

mel said...

hey ruth,

its lovely to see your work! i agree with kip about it feeling touchable and useable, and about your glaze choices. although i am painting the heck out of earthenware right now, i will always be drawn to textured pieces glazed in celadon or decorated by the woodkiln. perhaps its my time spent in ukiah that sets me up for this split personality. :)

i particularly enjoy the way the textured line evokes a trail left by something, or a path to be taken around the form. the vertical application makes me think that some kind of bug travelled all around the pot, enjoying the surface in a way that i cannot. i like to think of the pot being its own little microuniverse. to me it imples that there is a story involved, and engages me as the user in that narrative. is this an impression that you are at all interested in making? your artist statement does not say that, so i'm guessing that this is my own interpretation. but i'd love to know what you think of it.

your artist statement tells me why you like to make pots, how and why they are functional, and that you like to make them touchable. this statement goes well with your work. but it leaves me wondering why you are making such specific choices within the pattern. what inspires these marks?

have you ever looked at andy shaw's work? if not, you should. i think you would like it.

thanks for joining us, and i'm excited to see and hear more. please feel free to post more images of older work as kip suggested- it would be good for those of us who don't know you to have some context.

critial ceramics said...

Nice to see your work! I think what I notice most about your work is that it there are some nice subtleties going on, and that makes me feel that you are aware of the material and how your textured impressions affect the suface of the clay. I feel the pots as "soft" -- do you apply the texture to the pots when they are pretty wet? I like the way that the clay starts bulging out in areas after you've impressed the thinner rope texture (this happens most in the white cup with the series of vertical impressions) and how the rim on the pieces is changed and starts to undulate after the texture is applied. The pots have a nice, approachable feel in this way. And, I think your simplification of form and texture adds to this feeling of approachability that I get.

Yes, I am also wondering how these pots are simplified with regards to your older geometric patterning. Are the glazes/colors simplified as well or just the textures? Speaking of surface treatment - it would be interesting to see this work in a soda firing, where the atmosphere could juice up some of the surface by adding a bit of variation where your textures are applied. Have you thought using 2 different glazes, one for the interior, and another for the exterior? The only cup shown here with a different glaze on the inside is the woodfired cup; however, the outer surface is still very similar to the interior one with regards to tonality. Are you interested in playing a bit more with color?

The cup with the dots has a playfulness with decoration that some of the other pots don't -- are you interested in pursuing this more?

Like Mel said, the single line on the cup is so nonchalant and minimal, that it really makes one hone in on that line and wonder why it is there, who put it there, why it is wiggly, etc. It might be fun to play around with these lines. How thin of a line/string/rope texture can you get away with? How thick? How many impressions on one cup? I know you had mentioned your simplification from your previous body of work, but exploring a lot of different sources of texture could add to your toolbox of aesthetic touches to your surface. One thing I've really enjoyed is finding river rocks and rolling them into the surface of my slab built work - you can get a nice rolling quality and variation in the lines you make on the pot.
Looking forward to seeing more!

critial ceramics said...

To answer some questions posted, I make my designs using stamps that I make out of clay. How I decide what patterns I use is often from doodling with the clay or in a sketchbook. Often I am not even that sure where my ideas come from but I am sure it is from a very wide variety both from historical sources I have looked at to visual stimulants that are part of my everyday life. Mel I love your idea of a trail of some animal, this is not an idea i have thought of before but the idea does fit into my personality. I am attracted to the fun and playful aspect of ceramics but I have a tendency of focusing on trying to create work that is both elegant and sturdy (quite the oxymoron). Thank you for all the comments. If anyone is on facebook I post pictures of my work regularly there for friends and family.

Kip said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kip said...

Hey Ruth -- Thanks for posting some older images. Here are a few thoughts after looking over this work...
I think I notice your use of pattern more immediately in this older work for a few reasons: the quantity of texture, and the glazes you are using. You say this represents a wide range of styles you have tried -- which ones do you most identify with? Personally, and I know this is different for everyone, I keep coming back to the cup with the blue dots. It just looks so content and confident to be exactly what it is. I like the ratio of white, calmer space to busier, dotted space. The handle looks relaxed and like it would be comfortable. I think you capture your idea of sturdy elegance perfectly in this pot.

I like the idea of soda firing your newer pieces and the connection of the texture to some sort of trail. While I like what you're doing with the simpler marks, I do think pulling some color back into these pots could really highlight the tidbits of texture you give us!

Thanks for the extra images.

critial ceramics said...

Hi Ruth, Megan here.
It is interesting to see the response of people seeing your work for the first time; my view is definitely influenced by knowing more of your work and seeing it often! I definitely admire your ability to focus on a few ideas and glazes; it creates strength and continuity. I would suggest continued experimentation within those ideas.

My suggestions are largely reiterations of what has already been said --
I would be interested to see some contrast of glaze color in your pieces, and a further exploration of the placement and direction of the line.
Your work is fairly quiet and subdued right now. I like the pieces with the blue dots; they have a bit more movement. I know you have experimented some with slip in the texture, and I think that could be interesting, or using oxides in the texture. Also, a combination of stamped and slip trailed decoration could be really fun.
The stamped line -- I am itching to see it take off in some direction other that straight, or divide a bowl into uneven parts.
Finally, in these images you treating a variety of cup forms in a fairly uniform manner -- it would be nice to see more connection between the shape of the cup and the decoration.
Happy holidays and I will see you soon!

critial ceramics said...

Ruth, I agree with Kip's second comment - the porcelain cup with the blue dots really stands out. The glaze does it's thing (running down the pot) without being overstated or aggressive... it definately feels sumptuous.

Also, I like the character of the glaze on the casserole dish - how it really sinks into the stamped texture, while being lighter over raised areas. Perhaps you could find an cut the amount of stain you add to that particular glaze to discover what it does...

Thanks for posting more work -

critial ceramics said...

oops- the last comment was posted by me, juliane.