Sunday, July 20, 2008

Alicia Mack

Hello everyone=) I am new to the blog, and this is my first posting of images. I think this is a wonderful forum for feedback! Thank you in advance for any input!

My work is inspired by volume, breath, and I work to achieve a fabric-like quality. This first piece was inspired by succulent plants, and is a salt and pepper set.
In each piece, I make an effort to hide edges, so that i can maintain the illusion of softness in a hardened substance.

This one is an egg cup set where each stand for under each cup is an individual salt shaker. the center piece is a flower brick.

The last shot is from my Mfa show this May. This is a jump in pics, but i havent studio shot these yet. I hope to get some shot and up sometime soon. It is a setting for 16. The color pallette changed. I dropped temp due to the losses from the high temp and the folded forms. I made a glaze that was a little more fluid as well. I liked how it settled into the textures. Heres a closeup...
Hopefully everything posted ok.... Thank you everyone for your time=) best wishes!


Kip said...

Hi Alicia – Thanks for joining our blog! I hope you find the comments helpful.

I think your ideas about volume, breath and fabric come across very effectively in your current work. The satin glazes certainly add to and enhance the soft qualities. I also enjoy the way your pots blend functional and sculptural aspects. I feel that most strongly in the first salt and pepper set. I love the contrast of the silky-smooth exterior surface with the bumpy texture peeking out from the interior – at first glance I thought it was a purely sculptural form - how exciting to know that the parts can be taken out and individually explored!

I’m also drawn to the two soap-dish -like pots with the impressed lines. Again, these have a lovely sculptural feeling to them while still retaining an obvious functionality. The way the lines expand with the form accentuates the softness of the shapes. I really want to pick these up! Could you talk a little about your process for creating these shapes? I’m guessing they start from slabs, but it would be interesting to know a little more about how these are constructed.

I am in awe of the amount of work in your MFA show and drooling over the idea of ceramic placemats. Have you tried eating off of a plate on one of the cushions yet? Do they sit solidly? I could envision these clanking around a bit unless they fit tightly into the placemat – have you done any that are inset more into the cushion? I don’t know if this is your intention or not, but I could see the placemats serving as plates as well (especially if they had a pronounced recessed area that indicated where food would sit once the top piece was removed).

The one aspect of this table that feels a little out of place for me are the bud vases at the head of each pace setting. While everything else has a soft, hand built quality, these appear to be quickly thrown and feel distant from the rest of the work. I like the idea of a flower for each setting, but I wonder if you could unite the forms by adding some of your textures or enhancing the soft quality to better parallel the elements the rest of your table embodies.

What are your plans now that you have your MFA? Will you be teaching? Working in your own studio? Do tell!
Thanks for posting!

critial ceramics said...

Hi Alicia!
It's nice to see your images! Some familiar work, some new. It looks like you really pulled off the MFA show! I hope you got rave reviews. I really love the plates. What temp are you firing to now? And (as an aside) do you have any good cone 10 or 6 oxidation recipes you want to pass on?

Some of my favorite things:
The soft edge and folded quality of your work is, to me, the strongest point. You make it look effortless, very soft and very tactile.

I really like the idea of the salt shaker with egg cup - this feels like a very new twist on salt shakers. I'm not crazy about the flower brick in that image -- mostly because it has a hard edge against the table. The pillows that lift off the table are more full and lively.

I like the glazing on the pillows that you have photographed alone -- the one with the bumps and the two with the stripes -- the two colors accentuate the difference in texture. Most of your work is quite monochromatic. I like the simplicity of that but I would be interested to see what your work would be like with a splash of color, contrast or imagery somewhere on it. This might be a fun direction to go in -- to see what a variety of surfaces look like on your great forms.

Out of the MFA show, my favorite are the plates. The tumblers lack the softness and breath of the other work. I don't know how you would make a tumbler that has the folded quality somewhere, but I'd love to see it! Or if they had a bit of a belly. The candlesticks also seem to be sucking themselves in rather than puffing out.

Let me know if there are specific things you would like imput on. I'm curious to see what you are up to post-school! I hope you are settling in and doing great!


critial ceramics said...

Hello alicia so wonderful to see the work that you are making. I have always loved pillow forms. I love the volume and space that they create. I love that you chose the matt/ satiny surface, it lends itself to the softness. I like your use of lines and contrasting surfaces. they are truly lovely. They seem to invite you to handle them. It might be nice to see with the contrasting surfaces to see some sort of little embellishment, whether a dot of color or another added surface, something that would really grab your attention or take you by surprise. keep up the amazing work! candice

critial ceramics said...

Wow! I think you definitely are drawn to nestling pots inside of each other. In doing so, your pots take on a different feel - more like a family of objects that is working together. This comes across strongly in the salt and pepper shaker set.
I also commend you on working with new glazes and clay bodies right before your show. I like the satin feel to the objects. Your pattern choices/textures mesh well with a satin soft finish -- the patterns have similar round, rolled, and soft qualities. I agree with Megan in that the tumblers have a more rigid feel in comparison with the other forms.
Did you have fun working in a larger scale when you made the ceramic place mats? Are you still interested in creating more formal works for the table? It would be fascinating to see your take on larger objects (a punch bowl, a larger pedestal type object to display certain foods etc)...

Great work and welcome! What cone are your working at by the way?


Alicia said...

Thank you everyone SO much for the feedback. It is so nourishing! I need the fresh eyes, and you graciously spent some time to help. Thank you.
There were a couple of questions in the comments about what temp and working method im using, and its cone 6...Megan don't laugh at my about-face=) (I was a soda firer, and ended up making cone 6 work for my MFA show). But the forms were getting distroyed by the variable atmosphere, and when its crunch time.....
I make the forms using soft slabs, and I use paper templates. I usually texture the surface first, then determine the template I will use, and its placement. The templates also give me a chance for consistency for size and shape. All of the glazes were handpainted on with a large soft brush. yep, all of the Mfa show work was hand painted those colors....but it worked really well with this glaze it was a little thicker in the recessed areas, and a bit shiny, and thinner on the raised texture. I am finally back in the studio, after 4 months of no clay! ACK! I am loving it. I am working at an art center now, and there are different variables in clay, kiln, and glaze material availability. I am jazzed about trying some new things. I am most anxious to see what my glaze does on the new cone 6 clay body they have here. My show work was on cone 10 porcelainious stoneware, and crazed, so ill try the new stuff happily!
Thank you again everyone, and good luck in your studios!

critial ceramics said...

Hi alicia, Martina here

sorry for the late, very late reply. it was a hectic summer, and a hectic start to the school year.
your work struck a strong chord as i was experimenting with pillowy rims to some plates at the time when you posted.
the forms definitely have a soft quality that the glazes accentuate. i enjoyed the detail on your MFA work and look forward to your further explorations of surface in cone 6. the nesting of the egg cups and the bowl forms on top of the plates in your show also further your desire to convey a softness. the contact between the pieces serves to highlight the strength of the material despite its soft appearance.
not being familiar with your past work makes it a little harder to offer constructive criticism - because maybe you've already tried what i may suggest and found it didn't fit with your intention. with that in mind, i found myself looking for something unexpected - like a punch of colour or sharp line to contrast and therefore further highlight the softness of the forms. you stated that you seek to hide the seams, but what about using them to show more of your process? i'm thinking of the bead-line on the seam of an upholstered couch cushion.
the textured pieces do this to a degree, but i find myself wanting more. perhaps a variation in the texture - the dots changing in in scale as the volume changes across the form could also add something unexpected.
reading your response about switching form salt/soda to cone six i can sympathize. i went from wood firing to low-fire and continue to seek some of the life and unique highlights atmospheric firing can provide for strong forms. I'm sure your time at the art center and further exploration of cone six will be fruitful in finding surfaces that really make the work pop.
conspicuous in their absence were any handles (other than the bowls in the place setting) and pouring pots. any ideas? i imagine they are challenging when working with slabs.
the scale of your show is an inspiration. good luck with your new work and i look forward to your next post.
again, apologies for the late response,