By and Large (2014)

The work for this exhibition was created over a period of two and one half years. All of the work was made at Jun Kaneko’s new studio in Omaha, Nebraska.

Because of the scale of the kiln and the surrounding infrastructure available it was an obvious decision to make large work. Having these kinds of tools to work with and the time to process very large work is exceedingly rare and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.

As I began to build the large scale work, I was reflecting on several previous bodies of work including “Problems in Sailing“, “Airplane Series“, “Geocubic Series” and “The Recursion Collision” – all of which consisted of large scale work but differing widely in terms of content. This new body of work is an amalgamation of what I considered the most interesting visual characteristics of the previous work in terms structure and physical presence. In general, the work is figurative, totemic, and vertical with implications of movement or fluidity in either form or color. My focus has been on construction strategies to get clay to survive structurally up and out into space at this new scale. I chose to build from an inner core, or multiple cores to provide the structure needed to support horizontal or outward shapes. The work evolved more like how a tree grows rather than how an eggshell works. Pots are based on the eggshell idea, either method is sound architecturally but the “tree” idea offers possibilities that were consistent with the forms I was thinking about. There are no guarantees with ceramics at any scale, moving to such a massive scale imparts new risks and requires new considerations at nearly every stage of the process. This is what I set out to explore. Because of the scale the process becomes hyper extended, in other words drying some of these pieces took over a year, the challenge here is that any design flaw the could cause cracking for example, may not be seen for a year or longer, it might show up in the firing.

All of the work was experimental, I built several of the most complicated structures early and then moved to pieces that were less risky structurally but provided new surface opportunities for glazing. Once the larger pieces began to dry I moved to medium size pieces then to smaller works so that they would all be dry at the same time. I figured that some of the large pieces only stood about a fifty percent chance of surviving.

The glazing and coloration of the work was also quite a bit different than the atmospheric processes I’ve used in the past where, Wood, salt or soda provided the glaze while in the kiln. In this case I had to completely change all slip and glazes I was accustomed to using. This new process allowed me to develop a much bolder color pallet based on primary colors with transparent glazes that vary in how they reflect light. The imagery and patterning were mainly derived from the previous “Airplane Series” which I expanded on once I saw the new forms as blank canvases.

The works on canvas and paper represented in the show falls into three basic categories and vary widely aesthetically but are held together by the underlying structure of the sculpture. The first group were made, but never shown while I was working on other sculpture series. Once I arrived in Omaha I hung them in the studio and they became a starting point or a source for the new work. The second group was made during a pause in the construction of the large works, these paintings; mostly on paper is the alter ego of sorts to the big clay work. They are expressive and energetic, spontaneous. The large work took methodical, concentrated effort over long periods; these paintings are an opposite but relevant response to the big work. The third group were made recently, after the big work was glazed. These works are a synthesis of the new sculpture and the other flat work. They are strong in form and color but more deliberate than expressive.