Saturday, March 8, 2014

Mover Shaker World Class Maker

The V&A categorized my artist in residence as "World Class Maker".
Titles can be a useful way to stake out territory especially since we can't go around pissing on everything we want to lay claim to.  At first it seemed a bit mocking but one day it struck me to take my props- embrace and even brandish the moniker. One- why not? B-  I realized it is a literal description of my specific approach as a clay artist, and a very a useful way to give people some idea what they may encounter - one whose work in clay includes a serious skill set. It definitely sets the tone- the only trouble is then you gotta come up with the goods!
 There is a strong compelling movement within contemporary ceramic art that is about NOT making things out of clay- but making things out of clay things that have already been made or using clay to define that which will never be made - the temporal shaping and arranging of clay material creating an impermanent vulnerable momentary tap into the ceramic cosmos - a kind of alter ego to the earthly manifestations that clay has been bound to for millennia. A valiant attempt at impeaching this imperishable artifact from our collective past-a past we can't run away from but one we can perhaps travel at light speed to escape at least for a moment. I like it! After all ceramics today is the material of space travel diabolical weaponry and the key to solar energy!? what? it is as much a material of the future as the past and one that allows our present predicament an escape to both- sometimes at once.

 London truly seems to be ground zero for some seriously righteous paradigm shifting mind altering endeavors in clay and a lot of other so called craft and design (ugh). I have like many become swept up in the dragnet of critical thinkers in the field ambitious to redefine what and who is art- artist-craft- craftsman design- designer, a back and forth momentum that has begun to exhaust itself (or at least me) while inching closer and closer to an anticlimactic balance point- like the mystic tale of the stag whose mad pursuit of a heavenly scent drives him off the edge of a cliff and contorted from the fall, his head encircled to his belly, he realizes the origin of the divine fragrance that compelled him to his death was in fact emanating from his own navel.

  So where better to explore all that we call ceramics than in the belly of the beast- swallowed whole the undeniable proof of our karmic china closet and at once the germ seed of provocateur- the enemy within, laying, navigating, wounding and wounded alike warriors on the conceptual minefield of art and clay.
 In light of this I had a 'senior makers' moment- the V&A organized a pow wow at the om point for a small diverse group- whose common ground is clay- to explore the meaning of ceramic art in the 21st century a high minded pursuit that quickly devolved into playing with Nike Olympic trainers, London clay and of course tea and cake- it was all very civilized.

 V&A Curators Reino Liefkes, Alun Graves, Catrin Jones, and intern Kate Quinlan, residency and 'long table' coordinator Ruth Lloyd, ceramic artist's Phoebe Cummings, Carol McNicholl, Clare Twomey Conor Wilson, Matthew Raw and Ceramics in America Editor Robert Hunter who took the usual high ground and all the great pictures.
 True a few heavy hitters were MIA but I tried to compensate by using a bigger hammer.
Nike once again was literally on the table I was continuing to explore the trainer patterns from the olympic trainers Brett Holts had brought me from the Nike 2012 Track and Field Innovation

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