Thursday, January 10, 2008

Kristin Pavelka's work

Cups and Saucers--The foot was added and thrown at leatherhard stage. There's a small impression on top of the saucer for the cup to sit. Underside of saucer is trimmed with a small footring and left unglazed so it's the same color as the bottom of the foot...the beautiful brick red.

Teapot--this pot showcases and idea that I'm most excited about...breaking up the space to allow other imagery or memories to surface. In this case, the handle and the upper part of the teapot come together to form a chopper-type form. I also enjoy the idea of layering plain and patterned areas. I have taken this idea little further, although not shown, with a cup in which the line dividing the pattern from plain has been carved a bit to create more dimension for the plain. This handle is hollow.

Quonset Butter Dish-- For a while I would decorate the inside of this dish with matching patterns from the outside, but it was becoming too labor intensive. Now both top and bottom are lined with yellow. Terra sigillata on the roof and base of the dish.

Santoku Spreaders--I've been having fun with utensils...spoons, cake trowels and these. Realistically they probably wouldn't be usable unless they were spreading something really soft such as jam or dips, but as an object, they fascinate me. The handles are hollow, red terra sigillata is on the top part of the handle.

Tidbit Plates--I think of these as "swatches" of pattern. The backside has a small trimmed foot and is unglazed. Around the back rim a little white slip is exposed from underneath the glaze on most.

All work is earthenware, slipped, sgraffito, and layers of different colored glaze. Fired to cone 04.
Hello and thanks for taking a little time to view and comment on my work. This work is fairly current, and because I am at a crossroad with this line, it will be a great time to get some feedback. Below is my most recently written artist statement, but I wouldn't say it's completely true to what I've most recently been thinking about, including some of the work that is posted, but it will give you a bit of background. So this doesn't become a point on which everyone comments, it's not so important for the pots to reference body, as stated in the statement. Rather the body was a jumping off point for the beginnings of this work and has since strayed. Yeah, the statement needs major updating.


I make functional candy-like glazed earthenware pottery. For me, the making of a pot becomes a celebration of it as an object, as it transcends beyond the everyday kitchen dish and becomes something with more meaning and warmth.

Recently I was diagnosed with a condition that is a precursor for diabetes and was instructed to watch my intake of foods rich in fat and sugar. Since then, many of my pots reference sweets and fatty food through function, form, or surface. They also reference the body. A swelling belly of a pot becomes a full gut, a fat rim being pinched is a lovehandle. I touch the clay in a similar way to how I treat my own body: pinching, pulling, and poking. The evidence of the hand is vital and is seen in aspects of the forming of the pot as well as in the glazing. By confronting these unhealthy foods via art making, my cravings are somewhat satisfied.

Although issues about my health are at the core of the meaning behind my work, I was born a collector and have various interests in objects from primitive wooden tools of the early 20th century to Scandinavian design and kitsch objects of the mid-20th century. I have developed a love for historical ceramics, responding to the fresh handling of the clay in wares from Medieval England and the depth and richness of the surface of the sgraffito wares of 13th century Iran and Iraq. Architecture has been a big influence on my work through both form and details, and my color palette borrows from food and decorative style of Martha Stewart.

Pattern has come to be an important part of my work. I develop my patterns in an orderly manner by use of a grid system, doodling simple shapes that I encounter in everyday life such as those found within a concrete block wall or bird footprints in the snow. By drawing and exaggerating these shapes in different orientations within the grid I am able to come up with endless possibilities for pattern, often starting to refer to something other than the original inspiration.

A balance exists between the rough clay surface and the shiny, colorful glazes, as well as pattern and open space. I want them to look full both with and without food.


mel said...

kristin! welcome! watch out, i've looked at your pots a few times now and have lots to say.

i love the idea of your pots looking full with or without food. they definitely do look that way. for me the most effective part of them is their softness- round, shiny edges made of such a rich, rough clay covered in frosting. it definitely leaves them feeling frosted in a pink-cookie sort of way. they are enticing in the same way a piece of cake is, and both sweet and earthy at once. i have a yellow mug that i only use for black coffee- for some reason i need it to cut the sugary surface on the mug.

i very much enjoy the thrown foot on the bottom of the teacups. in fact, it inspired me to try something a bit like it to change some of my tumbler forms i haven't been happy with. the saucers are nice as well, but i'm wondering if their rims could be more rounded and swollen? for some reason, they feel slightly out of balance with the teacups to me. or maybe just having the red clay be visible on the rim as well- something to give them a bit more weight without actually being heavier. of course, its hard to tell anything really without seeing them. but there is a large amount of red clay visible on the foot of the saucers, so perhaps that's why i'm feeling this way. the bare spots are what gives gravity (in a good way) and balance to the cloudlike candied surface, and i think the saucer just needs a bit more balance.

i am in love with the teapot. i think the plain areas do give a more layered feel to the decoration, and give more depth to the piece as a whole. to me, this pot seems like a huge step forward, and i would love to see the cups you made. i guess it makes the pot feel a bit more grownup and designy- more towards the martha stewart than the excessive sweetness of some of the others. its the difference between an elegant woman eating a sugar cookie with pink icing and a little girl wearing her mom's pearls and shoes doing the same thing.
i really hope that made sense. if not, please feel free to ask me what the hell i'm trying to say.
i've seen the trowels and knives before and do really like them. i think the cake trowels would be useful, don't you? i would use them, anyway. :)

i saw a postcard at penn state for your mfa show (yes, its still up on the bulletin board). :) it had a piece like your butter dish. this was last year at about this time and i don't remember it super well now, but i do remember thinking that it felt to me like a more direct or obvious transition between what you made in undergrad and what you're making now. the clearly thrown and dissected lid made me feel like you were taking the rough, silo like forms you made before and actually applying them to your new ideas. it gave me the impression that you were literally taking the tough, hard working side of yourself and sticking it right up next to the little girl part of you that loves to eat candy. there is a big, direct contrast in this pot for me that is not there in your new teapot. i know that might seem totally off to you, but i'd love to know what you think of that comment. now, with the teapot, if seems almost like its from a different, former body of work. is that at all true to you?

critial ceramics said...

Hi Kristin,

Martina here. It was nice to read your words about your work. I've come across it before. Linda Arbuckle suggested I look at your pots and found some on the Akar website.

The pieces that struck me most directly were the spreaders. I love the ingenuity you used in approaching both the form and the decoration. The Terra sig line is great, as are the scallops on the edge - mimicking the scallops on a true knife.

I'm not sure of the progression of the work you presented, but the teapot stands out as heading in a different direction. I really enjoy the way you've divided the form in color and decoration. The white is restful and the deco comes across as more activated in its way it moves across the bottom of the form and is cropped off. I would be curious how some of the other pots would change with a similar treatment to the decoration.

On some, like the teacups and plates, the decoration doesn't activate the forms in the same way. I find myself looking for some sort of surprise; a bright dot of green or blue, maybe more exposed clay as mel suggested for the saucers or the rims of the plates, or some accent that refers to the shapes of the decoration. would martha stewart advocate a decorative throw pillow to add accent?;) also, what if the deco was to change in scale as it moves across the form?

Your work seems confident and resolved in its making and i enjoy your forms, its just as i said, i find myself looking for a little surprise in them; like the center of a tootsie pop. Which brings me to the idea of candy in your work. It was nice to read mel's comments because it put me in mind of cookies and cake - fluffy and sweet with pastel frostings. When i read of the candy relationship, i was thinking more jellybeans and lolly-pops - bright and attracting attention - begging you to eat them.
I know you said that the body reference in the statement wasn't necessarily applicable so i'm not sure if the 'pinching, pulling, poking' is no longer relevant too. I didn't really get the sense that you were still working that way from the photos.

I also enjoyed the quonset dish (again from mel's comments learned the history of your use of forms like that) and wonder if you've done more from your architectural inspiration. where do yo live now?

Again Kristin, welcome...

critial ceramics said...

kristin-so happy to have another terra cotta artist on the ship!

critial ceramics said...

i have to start with: love the teapot! it is beyond cold in MT and i just love the warm sunshiny, round, comfortable feeling that pot gives, i do wonder if it would be a bit difficult to pour a hot kettle of water in? the handle appears very low? could you get the kettle under? agian very hard to determine without seeing, better yet, using it. i do read a layered feeling with the decoration, and would really enjoy seeing something similar on the plates, my eye likes to rest in white area
the spreaders: I would adore having a large flat one to spread thick choclate frosting with, i do agree there funtion is limited but i would like to see the continual progression of these. i not sure where this thought is coming from, but something feels a bit bloody about them, similar to the beautiful jeweled sword used to kill a favorite but unfaithful servant, they conceal a danger with their prettiness. i really wish they were sharp!(i am not crazy)
i like the plates, but they feel a bit generic, what i mean is there pattern looks fimilar rather then something that reveals a bit of you, which for me would much more interesting
i think the teacups are fun and the handles relate to the cups wonderfully. i like the cup-foot being elevated from the saucer. i can't gauge how shiny or matt they are but i really enjoy the bare clay. shipmate monicA

critial ceramics said...

kristin -

i enjoy the variety of pattern and forms in your post. your pots leave me content and cheery, making me more eager to use them with food and drink. savory. as if using them were a treat in and of itself!

like mel, i also felt a slight imbalance with regards to the saucers and the "pedestal" feet cups. i wonder what a chubbier/rounder foot might do to the feel of the pieces together? the saucer rim and foot edges feel more angular than the cups.

as for the teapot, i do like the use of white that blankets the form. aside from your santoku spreaders, do you use that bright white often? i know the pink and yellow are well integrated into your palette, and wondered if you are interested in working with the white more? anyhow, the solid white really lets me become aware of the structure of the teapot - entry to arching handle, lid, body, and ending at the spout. i also enjoy the pillowy-ness of the yellow hollow handle. the handle seems to take some of the spotlight with regards to the piece as a whole, but i enjoy it, as you seem to be really celebrating that attachment.

like the range of pattern in the quonset butterdish... wondering how that combination of pattern might look on a cake platter or even on a teapot (in small doses)? for some reason, i keep wanting a small knob on the top, maybe because the red sig looks so slick and buttery...

the change of plane in the santoku spreaders is really intriguing. you have the more 2D spreading edge that transitions into the 3D hollow handle. have you thought about testing the spreaders with jam? how interested are you in pursuing their function?

as with the butterdish, i like seeing the set of plates with varying patterns on each of them. this shot of your work made me think of linens, with the pastel colors and such.

nice work. i want some candy or sweet bread now.


critial ceramics said...

Hi Kristin,
It's great to see some of your work, your thoughts behind it, and have the opportunity to think it over some.

Like Martina, I am quite struck by the spreaders. Of all your pieces, they are the ones that I really want to hold in my hands and caress. It is a bit of a conundrum that they are limited in functionality, but I would definitely encourage further exploration. Maybe they are not meant to be functional with food, but as something just to be held and looked at. What if they resembled silverware but departed from that meaning a little more? Or it might be interesting to see them as part of a place setting.

I also am drawn to the teapot. I like the cleanliness and the contrast of the decoration with the white. I agree with others that the handle seems a little too close to the body. I am very intrigued by your phrase "breaking up the space to allow other imagery or memories to surface". I am interested to know more about what you mean with this sentiment, and what imagery or memories you might choose to fill that space. In this case, you see it as a 'chopper form' - how does this relate to a teapot for you? I can see the image but only with a little effort - maybe a slightly thicker line at the top of the patterned part would help. This definitely seems like something you could really run with and could be quite exciting.

The cups and saucers - I have always wondered a bit about your choice to leave finger marks in your white slip. I'm not sure that it fits with the rest of the decoration. The rest of the images here have departed from that and are a bit cleaner.

The butter dish for me is very much a gingerbread house. In ways that confuses me, because it makes me think of sweet food rather than buttery. That might be something to think about a bit - how to make it look more buttery?
I like the plates; they are well executed and seem like a good way to explore surfaces that you can then use on more complicated forms. Have you tried some that incorporate some white space, or bringing in a very different pattern?

Overall - I enjoy your work and I am really interested to see the ideas you are thinking about and how you are choosing to execute them. I urge more exploration! It's exciting.

critial ceramics said...

Hey Kristin,
Just one more thought --

I am working on my artist statement right now. Reading yours has helped me remember that it it ok (and probably helpful) to speak very directly to my experience and how it shapes my work, rather than beating around the bush. Though perhaps your statement is not the most up to date, I really appreciate its honesty and directness. Thanks for that!

Kip said...

Hi Kristin – Thanks so much for joining our group, it is great to have you involved in this clay conversation (please excuse my slow response!!). I have really enjoyed looking over your post these past few weeks, so many wonderful things to look at and contemplate. It is interesting to see your work again after so many years - I am in the process of making the transition from high fire to 04 and your pots are great inspiration!

First off, I can definitely tell that you have put in a lot of time thinking about and working on the ideas behind and the forms of these pots. I especially like the connection of your surfaces to sweets after being told to limit your sugar intake and your Martha Stewart color inspiration. I don’t think your statement will really take all that much updating to fit well with this current body of work – removing some of the sentences directly relating to body and adding a transition could do the trick.

In terms of the work itself, I am most drawn to the teacups and the spreaders. I have been playing with ice cream spoons in the past few weeks - there are so many areas to tinker with! While I agree that these move away from fully functional, they certainly elevate the everyday into something special. I would love to use them at a party or celebration. They look like they would feel wonderful to hold and my eye keeps resting on the lovely scalloped edge of the blade. The teacups seem like they would happily incorporate into my daily life. I like the elevated foot, and the way you let your fingers break up the line of the slip.

I am curious to see where you head with the teapot form. The hollow handle seems a natural companion to the full teapot body. My one concern is that the handle appears a little low in the image for comfortable removal of the lid and teabags, cleaning, etc. Have you played at all with increasing the lift from the body? I also think you have some room to play with the knob on the lid. The fullness you carry through the rest of the pot gets a little lost in that particular knob.

In your exploration of leaving some areas free of your pattern decoration, have you played at all with bringing larger patches of the red clay into areas of your work? It has such a luscious look and compliments your glaze palate so well, I could see utilizing that surface more in the bodies and handles of your pots. It’s funny though - the piece that excites me least is the butter dish. In that case, it feels like there is a little too much bare clay. What about some sort of glazed handle? Would that pull the dish too far from your architecture reference?

With the plates I am most exited by the three that have more than two glaze colors. I think it was Martina who told me that three colors tend to create more engaging relationships than two. I really think that’s true here – the plate with the blue dots feels a little sparse. I would either include some extra scrafitto or add in a little splash of color somewhere on that particular design.

Overall, I think this is a very strong grouping of work. Thanks for sharing – I can’t wait to see more!


ruth said...

hello Kristin-
I would like to fist apologize for not responding earlier. Your work is wonderfully sugary, I am instantly drawn to the teapot which is so balanced. I want to complement you on your choice of different utilitarian objects that you dont ushually see made out of clay. For a while i tried to think of things i could make that were unusual but they all seemed ridiculous. Although your knives are not entirely functional i think it is a very clever idea. Your butter dish is also unusual looking which caught my eye. It does look like it would be hard to pick up the lid but it might just look that way in the picture. I believe everything else i have to say would just repeat others have said.

thanks for sharing your work,