Monday, June 16, 2008

Megan June 2008

Wood fired shot glass

Axe mug - Reduction fired

Doorway box - wood fired

Chair mugs - wood fired

Ewer - salt fired

Ewer set - salt fired

Salt fired ewer set
These are images of work that I made during April and May. I've made a whole boatload of pots, and these are either favorites or ones that reveal ideas I am interested in pursuing. As you can see (and know from NCECA), I have returned to making functional work. I am interested in incorporating some slab and press molded forms into this current body of work, particularly for the trays/ holders. I like the sets and enjoy the potential for communication between multiple pots.

I don't want to say too much more because I want to hear what you have to say -- what is working and what isn't? Wood fired vs. glaze? I blissfully have not touched my artist statement for five months so I have no update on that end.


mel said...


ok. first of all, and maybe most importantly, these photos don't do your work justice. i saw it in mendocino, and these shots do not accurately show the richness of the color on your pieces. they're well composed, but something is not being communicated that i know can be shown. is this your setup, or someone else's? is it the one you used for your apps, or just for temporary stuff like posting?

otherwise, there is a lot of variation of surface, but i do still think these pots all feel like the same body of work. perhaps the only one that stands out is the shot glass, but not really. i wish i could make some sort of definitive statement about woodfired vs reduction fired, but i'm not sure its that cut and dry. overall, i'm impressed by the amount of movement and fullness (doug's word, right?) that has suddenly entered your pots. there is now a tension between the rigidity of the pattern and the cleanliness of construction, and the natural, soft line and surface. they are full of space, and capture the feeling of moving within the landscape on the pot.

the pieces that speak to me the most are the last 2. part of it is the fact that they are sets and are therefore that much more dynamic, but that's not what really does it for me. the simplicity and ambiguity of the impressed lines is fantastic. i like the fences and chairs and axes, but somehow there is more magic, grace, and depth in those straight lines. perhaps its because they cause the whole pot to feel like one, complete, atmospheric landscape, as opposed to a chair or an axe imposed upon a horizon line. or maybe they just allow me to use my imagination more. i definitely like the idea of the images you use, and compositionally the chairs work a little better for me than the axe, but somehow those pieces are more forced to me. also, i feel like i've seen a lot of furniture on pots before, so the axe itself feels much more innovative.
what if those stamps were somehow repeated in the same fashion as the lines around the bottom of the last set (and around the mug i have at home?) i don't know if that would work.

and then there's the wood vs. gas firing. i think if i had to choose, i'd say that the gas fired pieces are most successful. i don't think you can tell from these images, though. they tend to be softer and more full of color, and the rougher woodfired surfaces don't create as much tension (as i was talking about earlier). they are beautiful, though, and i kind of can't imagine you NOT woodfiring. but then again, maybe its not the best thing for these pieces you're making right now. i'd love to hear what others think, though.

that was a long comment. oh well.

critial ceramics said...

Juliane here. Wow. It is so awesome to see the growth in everyone's work!

I have to say that I am a little sad to see your sculptural work go. These pots are more straightforward (not in a bad sense, just that their function is more obvious)...but, I can see some of the influence of your old work on these pots (i.e. the trays in the last two images and the windows in the work showing fence or household objects).

I think the piece that pulls me the most is the cup with the ax. It has a clarity that some of the other pieces don't (this could be due to the fact that it is gas fired and you have more control over the surface and what you wish to emphasize). I love how the twist of the handle is repeated two-dimensionally in the line that wraps around the cup. The ax is also something unexpected, as Mel mentioned. It makes me wonder why it is there. It brings me into the maker's world (your head) and brings my attention to what are trying to say.

The other pieces are lovely too, and the "soft" Mel mentioned comes to mind most in the doorway box piece.

In the chair mugs and single salt fired ewer, I am distracted by the lines that you are making above the window areas (the landscape lines?). To me, they break up the form too much and take away the drama/affect of the window. What if you made the 2D landscape line more minimal...or if you made it three dimensionally using your form vs. drawing it? Or, perhaps play around with the scale of the pieces and how each space can be broken up?

I do think the forms of the ewers pairs are quite strong! Maybe I have too many memories of your old work in mind (the more plain and smooth tray/platform surfaces) but I feel that the ewers could take center stage more easily with a more reserved pattern on the base. I think that the "step-up" pedestal on the last image is quite intriguing!

Clearly, there is a lot going on in these pieces and I can see that you are developing and exploring your forms and their content. As for surface, I feel that the gas fired surface allows me to focus on your windows, lines, and forms more. The wood firing is rich as well; perhaps you could combine gas fired cups/bowls/ewers with wood fired trays/bases?

If you want to chat more about your work or have and ? for me, just shoot me an email!

Nice work!

satoko said...

Hi Megan,
In my estimation, the strongest piece is the wood fired "Doorway Box." It has the most balanced distribution of surface textures. The landscape lines add to the fullness and movement of the piece and the marks left by the flame enhances it. Interestingly enough, the salt fired ewer with a similar pattern doesn't appeal to me as much. The balance changes when you add elements like a spout and a neck, but it is the lean body and the less active landscape line that I don't like as well, my personal preference. The salt fired surface is exquisite. I think the subtlety of this (salt) surface works better with your embossed patterns and landscape lines than rich wood fired finish shown in "Chair Mugs," though they are beautiful, too.

Incidentally, why axe? Does it refer to manual labor or wood as fuel? I don't have any problem with it, but was just curious. A chair is easier to relate to tea/coffee drinking activity/non-activity.

I think that working in sets with trays would provide you with more room to play and greater opportunities for communicating with viewers. I saw the last salt-fired ewer set as two people on stairs in the Mendocino show. I felt something narrative there.

Overall, like Mel (or Doug?) said, I was impressed by "the amount of movement and fullness that suddenly entered your pots." It is fun to follow your work and find what comes next.

critial ceramics said...

megan, monica posting

critial ceramics said...

i should say commenting not posting. i always like to start with my favorite, the axe mug, love it. the form has a very pleasing, repeating wavey line. the rim edge, the handle line, the actual line around the mug and the foot. then its broken so sharply by the window and the vertical handle of the axe. for me this is so much more then a mug. i am a little frustrated by the image quality. i am unclear about the actual glaze color /surface but not all that important the facts are still present in the image.
the ewers, a bit disappointing, the mugs and the doorway box all have such meganness (having trouble explaining this concept better). the ewers on a tray, i feel like i have seen them(very similar shapes ect.) a zillion times. as you mentioned earlier these are new ideas that might just need more exploring.
the doorway box: again really great. you call it a box, does the top open? love the round window and its relationship to the round top of the box. i would be pleased if the surface had both smooth and rough areas. great to see this functional work but also really love your other work. mONICa

critial ceramics said...

It's Megan here; I thought I would respond to some of the questions raised in your postings.
First, thanks for the comments. I am reading over them as I try to muddle through what I want to make next. Of course there is no clear answer but it is nice to have feedback.

First, why the axe? I made the axe stamp in combination with a butter knife stamp and at first I was putting them both on the piece. I didn't like the looks of the butter knife as much so I stopped using it, but my thoughts were about indoor versus outdoor labor, and gender roles, as well as a little about process. Many people take it in a sinister way but for me the axe has a much more practical, wood stove, backwoods sort of connotation. I have become stuck in a bit of a rut with my imagery, as I have a few stamps that I like and tend to put them on pots somewhat willy-nilly. I'm hoping to get a little more clarity on what imagery I am using and why.

And the top of the box does open, Monica, the lid starts at the upper landscape line.

Regarding functional work vs. sculpture -- I am trying to focus on one body of work at a time for a while. I seem to have lost momentum for the sculptures and feel like I am making headway with the pots. Hopefully that will work out for me....

Ginger said...

hi megan!!!! looks great but needs more scissors :O

Alicia said...

HI Megan! Great pots!
Its so nice to see your work now!
I LOVE the axe cup. I see this infusion of the landscape in your pieces now. It looks like the mountains in the background. So I find a nice connection between the idea of working the land, and the objects used in that process. Your pieces have a wood craftsman quality to them for me....maybe its the atmospheric firing process,or the imagery but they seem like they are carved from weathered wood.
I think this surface is so attractive on these pieces! Its like you are using a historic narrative.
The forms on the ewers are nice, im just not sure about the texture for the sides of the pots or the trays. maybe if they contained a a more considered the landscape again, or a weathered wood texture, like the handle from an axe, or a homeade texture plate. The stripes just dont compliment the forms as well as they should. I LOVE the use of symbolic imagery in your work....I think you should run with it! Thank you for letting me comment. Great work!!

critial ceramics said...

Hi Megan,
Better late than never eh?
The first time I looked at your post my initial reaction was a desire for more colour, so I was glad to read mel’s comment that these photos may not fully show the depth of colour on these pots. My roommate just returned from the Gill workshop at the ranch and they were glazing pots with low fire glazes and bringing them up to cone 10 in the salt kiln with great colour results – may be something to try.
I really enjoy the ‘windows’ and ‘doorways’ on the pots. It is an interesting component when having the sets – like mugs and ewers. It looks as though you may be trying to extend that added texture around the whole form as in the bottom set of ewers. I’m not sure which is more successful. I sense the all-around texture is carved not stamped or molded so maybe it’s just the different sensibility I’m responding to. I think the texture/imagery that is sharper is more successful.
I know the pots I saw at NCECA(and the bowl I fight my roommate to use in the morning) resolved the landscape ideas you have been working to put into your pots really well. The surface, form and proportions combined to make the work very clear.
The work in this post doesn’t seem to have the same clarity, but I can see you are working on some new ideas – like the trays. The stepped tray is an interesting form – whole trays could be a mountain landscape!. Are you working to make them a little more of an extension of the landscapes? I’m thinking of my bowl and how the contours move around it and the rim continues the view. It may be interesting as well to see more of a contour where the tray meets the table top.
To get a little nit-picky on some form parts: I am enjoying your handles – they are changing a lot and especially on the axe mug – it holds the line of a hillside within it. The spouts (other than the bottom ewers) have a bump in them, that while I’m talking of reflecting landscape etc. don’t read well to me.
Overall I think the box is my favorite piece – the most resolved.
My problem is that I find it difficult to stick with one thing until its resolved and I jump around in my studio – physically and metaphorically. How do you find it when you work? What’s your felling about the ewers? Your surfaces?
Hope the return to cali was seamless…

Kip said...

Hi Megan! I am finally getting to finish up comments on all of the posts, sorry for the slllooow response. It is such fun to see your latest pots – I am really enjoying the direction things are going for you. In particular, I feel like the last two sets of ewers are especially effective. You can tell I’ve been watching Olympics when the last set looks like athletes on a podium – they just look so proud! The way you carry your lines from the body of the pot into the tray makes them feel unified and connected, I especially like how the square lid echoes the square bodies and square tray of the last ewer set. I’m not 100% sold on the knobs though. Everything about the tray feels so generous: the lip, the wide lines, the thick foot. But the ewers feel tighter with their narrow lines and tiny lids. I could envision a fuller knob to help draw a stronger connection between the tray and the ewers. I’m very interested in the organic nature of the first ewer tray and the soft rolled rim. With this set, the way you brought the lines up into the ewers really unites the set as a whole. Again, I could see something like the rim on the tray brought (subtly) to the rim on the ewers to unite them in another way.

The other pieces I’m most drawn to are the mugs. I really enjoy the panels you are setting into your pots. I do wonder, however, what is the significance of the chair and the axe to you? I think the stamps are lovely in their line quality and the way they affect the flashing in the wood fired pots, but I’d love to know more about where this imagery comes from and what it means to you. I think your handles work very well on all of these mugs – they have a soft and fluid look to them that seems like it would be a treat to hold. In terms of shape, find the way you let the rim of the axe mug undulate slightly very effective. It echoes the rolling landscape line beautifully.

While I think the wood fired shot glass is lovely in terms of both shape and flashing, I couldn’t identify this as “megan” like I can with the other pots. I’m definitely missing a little window somewhere on this pot…

Thanks for posting!

Kip said...

I just read through the comments, thanks for posting some info about the origins of your imagery. Can you tell us anymore about the chair?