Myownian Ship Wreck

Pots for Beautiful Grotesque

We’ve been back in the studio again after a long absence for the breeding season on the farm and are starting right back in with work for an upcoming show.  We have been invited to the upcoming Beautiful Grotesque show at the Sangre de Cristo arts center in Pueblo. The show opens in October and runs through mid January. Stay tuned for information about the opening and sales.

For this body of work we chose to start with a functional form, since we worked with vases for the graffiti show covered jars seemed like the logical choice.  The jars allow for another layer of narrative to work with the content we are working with in this series. The jars are collage, using molds from several of our previous projects and from salvaged doll molds.  These images are reconfigured to suggest meanings that might relate to an ancient cultures fertility rituals.  Many of the pieces were then textured to reference deep sea salvage, creating a false timeline for the objects. They will be finished to reflect the layers of ideas.

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We used a combination of techniques for decorating the pieces, including sprigging, slip casting, buttoning, incising and sculpting.

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Though not recommended by clay makers or professionals, we are using two different bodies on pieces that incorporate slip casting.  The throwing/spriging body used is Laguna’s White Stone and the casting slip is Cashmere from New Mexico Clay. These fit together remarkably well and gave us almost no problems with attachments during shrinkage to bone-dry.

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The work as usual was very collaborative, some pieces we both touched while others were one or the other, and will be decorated as a team as well. We deliver to the gallery in late September, watch for finished pieces soon.

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Magic Box Collectables

An important idea for us right now in Foxy-Wolff is to develop an income steam to support the video production and installation, which can be very expensive when considering the tech involved.  We have worked with a variety of ideas over the last couple years and continue to search for something compelling that ties to into the heart of the videos.  With this latest idea, I think we may have figured it out.

These came from a series of small drawings Gabe made as we were on our way home from Kansas after the semester critique last December.  While I did like the tiles, I felt they were missing something, and a reoccurring comment we heard during the critique was that everyone wanted to play with the house and the figurines.  combining these two necessities, Gabe developed these wall hanging pieces:IMG_8040As soon as we got home I began with their construction.  For most of these, the molds already exist from the construction of the houses and so the details on the build could be thought through very quickly.

The first was from “The Empty Room” house, which is a challenging piece even at a small-scale.  I chose a window and two brick walls for this, finishing with all the trim.  Part of the challenge was building solo, the piece being too small for both of us to put up the walls.  Once the construction was finished it was dried, then spray painted and fired.  Following that acrylic paint and more spray paint were applied. I wanted to make these close to the original, but art pieces in their own right so there is some deviation from the surfacing of the original.IMG_0661“Ted in the Empty Room” 8.5″ x 9.25′ x 5″ Ceramic and Paint

The second piece was also from “The Empty Room” and is more of a display shelf for figurines than a house.  Again, using molds from the original build, a plan was made.  This house does not include porches and so decisions had to be made concerning that new aspect.  Construction and surfacing followed the procedures listed above and this piece finished well.IMG_0654“Terry and Virgil After Breakfast” 8.75″ x 9.75″ x 6 Ceramic and Paint

The third piece comes from “The Magic Box” and was perhaps the most difficult build of the group.  The reason for this being the molds from which the original house was made.  They are early on in our pursuit of mold making and are imprecise and difficult to use.  That being said, the compact design of this house and the attachment style it uses are very sturdy and make a lovely little piece.  This was glaze finished like the house it is made after.IMG_0646“The Stone Woman at Home” 8.5″ x  8″ x 8″ Stoneware and Glaze

The figurines were made following the construction of the houses and were somewhat different from the originals, the stone woman for example is slip cast for these, where she was carved from solid clay in the original piece.  In this we were seeking a way to differentiate the collectables from the gallery originals.IMG_0665IMG_0650These pieces will hang in a variety of ways, the large free-standing pieces will be placed on a custom shelf, while the piece that includes its own shelf will hang on a French cleat.

This series does exactly what we were hoping for, It reunites the concept of the films with toys and action figures and  gives us an interesting opportunity to return to the “commercial”.  I love the idea of promoting the “Collect all five!” marketing strategy for ceramic art, its fantastically absurd.

 

ceramic art

Making Characters for The Empty Room

Not even a weekend passed between finishing the house and starting the furniture and characters for the film.  I began with the furniture because its size would dictate the moveable space within the rooms and so the size of the animals inside.  The Cafe was the most important space as this is where the bulk of the film takes place.  I laid out and built the objects in place and was much more flexible with shrinkage size for this project, just setting a maximum size and working below that.IMG_7017I did have one piece that required precise shrinkage for a screen, but there I only fussed with the opening.  Being less absolute with measurement cut the build time on the furniture by weeks,  it was such a great compromise.  Here you can see that the opening is slightly too big.  There is a formula that I use that allows pretty precise measurement of clay body shrinkage after firing.  For some things this is essential.IMG_7044After the furniture was complete, I moved on to characters.  I have a pretty tried and true method for devising a build for an animal that I have never tried.  First I search google images for poses and colors that I am interested in, then I draw those images.  This allows me to get careful about certain details that are important to quickly identifying the type of animal.IMG_7041As I move to the sculpting process, I use techniques I developed teaching children, this keeps the figurines looking like toys.  This relies in shedding non-essential detail, but holding on to the things that are most important, usually ear and snout shape and limb attachment.  I also usually make multiples of a each character so we can show a range of movement in the film.  The first piece gets to be an exploration, but the second must follow the size and detail rules of the first.IMG_7121I sculpted the figurines by group so that I could develop some speed with a form.  I started with squirrels and then moved to squid, rabbits, fish and bears.IMG_7071 IMG_7113 IMG_7134

James the lizard was the last of the figurines that was made.  He was built at my home since there was just not enough time in a day to get them all done.  He was built for a very specific scene in a very particular space in the cafe, which I did not have with me.  The consequence of this was significant post firing revision to get him to work in the space.  I hope not to repeat this mistake as I had to mutilate the ceramic to get him to sit.

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All the figures and furniture were fired together, though they were finished in various ways.

While I worked on the clay bits, Gabe was focused on the special effects portion.  One of the greatest things about collaboration is watching an idea expand as it meets other ideas.  This film features several flashbacks, all of which needed additional building to pull off convincingly.  Gabe took one of these flashback scenes and built a fantastic set, based on the first house, but expanded and edited to allow the scene to convey the emotion that we wanted to communicate.  In the scene we wanted to convey the  horror of greed and grasping,  The project became incredibly detailed because Gabe was so committed to pulling off the illusion to carry off that emotional impact.  He also made the character for that scene.  He chose an ape, to further illustrate the concept of the clip.

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Finishing began after firing. The furniture followed the rules of the first film, and any character that was coming from a previous film had to be finished in their style.  After that, we could be creative about finish.  Most pieces were glaze fired, but a few were painted with acrylic.  For us, that process always begins with spray paint.

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When they were complete, filming began immediately.  The characters always look best in place

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ceramic art

Judy Onofrio

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This piece titled “Flux” by Judy Onofrio is featured in a review of her work in Ceramics Art and Perception issue 92.  The work is composed of ceramic forms and found objects, primarily bone, that the artist collects and cleans for this purpose.  The assemblages are then unified by paint surfaces that accentuate the feeling that the sculptures are a living thing.

Bone are very particular objects.  They are not made, by hands nor geologic process.  They are grown, but unlike most living things, they survive death.  They are the structure of animals and carry a memory of them, yet taken as objects they evoke another kind of architecture.  They can evoke a sense of the undying principles of life, it is this I believe that is behind a cultural obsession with the human skull.

This work then, which combines found objects grown from natural process and artist rendered shapes made from earth and transformed by fire come together to give new meaning to both.  The delicate hue of the assemblages pulse with life and point to a notion that the cycles of life and death are part of the creating process, a part of every life.Judyonofrio2twist Judyonofrio1

ceramic art

Inventing the Modern World

inventing4Rozenburg Haagsche Plateelbakkerij, The Netherlands (The Hague), 1883-1914. Milk Jug, 1900. Glazed porcelain with enamel. 108 x 40.6 x 33.7 cm. Designmuseum, Danmark, Copenhagen, 793.

 

One of the best things about the Ceramics Art and Perception assignment this semester is catching up on events in the ceramic community that I missed.  One of these that I most enjoyed was the review if the show “Reinventing the Modern World” that was staged by the Nelson Atkins museum in Kansas City in 2012. The show has toured some and so there are other museums that have sites dedicated to the show, but here is the original:

http://www.nelson-atkins.org/art/exhibitions/WorldsFairs/

The intent of these shows when they were first conceived was to showcase national manufacturing and design in a cooperative environment that allowed the spread of ideas globally.  There was also a fair amount for showing off, so the bet artists and craftspeople of a country were invited to participate, making it some of the best of the best work that a period had to offer.  The show focus’ on a period in which some ceramic was beginning to be designed for exhibition rather than domestic use, so these works have a very contemporary art piece feel.

inventing2Miyagawa Kozan, Japanese, 1842-1916. Vase, ca. 1904. Glazed porcelain. 35.6 x 31.2 cm. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Acquired by Henry Walters, 1904, 49.1912 Walters.

Much like the worlds fairs themselves, the show featured many different arts and crafts objects, such as furniture, glass and metal, but there was also a range of styles and approaches to the ceramic work.  This vase seems influenced by Paul Gauguin’s experiments with ceramic.  Its form and surface have an incredibly contemporary feel.

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Pierre Adrien Dalpayrat, French, 1844-1910. Vase, La Mer, 1898-1900. Glazed stoneware. 40.6 x 36.8 x 40.6 cm. Saint Louis Museum of Art, Richard Brumbaugh Trust in memory of Richard Irving Brumbaugh and Grace Lischer Brumbaugh and funds given by Jason Jacques, 7:2010.

The focus of this show is largely a historical one, what was the world like at the time and how were these Worlds Fairs influential in the making of culture, but I see a deeper significance in restating historical shows.  Disparate objects become a single work of art through the process of good curation.  How interesting then to consider this historical work restaged in a contemporary setting. Bringing these works together again has the power influence a new generation of artists and thinkers in a way that photos in a book or a single example in a museum just can’t do. At the very least, it reminds us working in the field today of our roots and provides inspiration for new ideas.

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Algot Erikson, decorator, Swedish, 1868-1937. Rörstrand Porslins Fabriker, manufacturer, Sweden
(Stockholm), 1726-1964. Vase, 1904. Porcelain. 42.3 x 18.4 cm. Cincinnati Art Museum, Museum Purchase with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. William O. DeWitt, Jr.

Images for this post were taken from this site:

http://arttattler.com/designworldsfairsmodernworld.html

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Wall-Paper: An Installation by Aurora Hughes Villa

Wall-paper has a pretty bad reputation among contemporary house proud decorators, yet it has so much appeal for artists.  Being passé and completely decorative is just one of the reason to use it for inspiration.  Another wonderful feature is that its broken symmetry and patterning work so well in backgrounds.  Additionally,  wall-paper is loaded with symbolism, both within its own images and culturally as metaphor for the times it has been popular.

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The installation “Wall-Paper” by Aurora Hughes Villa that was displayed in conjunction with the 2012 NCECA in Seattle WA and reviewed in issue 92 of Ceramics Art and Perception, picks up on all these universal themes,  but manages to be a work that is intimate and personal. Part of its ease of communication is in the meticulous craftsmanship of each of the pieces.  They are created using a mixture of new tech and reliable technique.  The vintage wall-paper designs are scanned into Photoshop, where they are manipulated, and then turned into screens for silkscreen, which is applied using colored slips and underglazes.  The surface of the clay is formed using a combination of carving, stencils and free painting.  The medallions are then fired several times.  Each medallion is unique and features cameo images of women, medical drawings of body parts and architectural drawings of Victorian houses.

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The overall effect of these well placed, well-organized images is controlled and possibly a bit predictable, as  is expected of wall-paper, until considering the strong shadows cast on the wall by the heavily top lit medallions onto the dark painted wall.  Those shadows blur the edges of the entire piece and break up the uniformity and control.  The metaphor for shadow in a calm and ordered environment brings this work out of the Victorian, where the ideals of domesticity created a prison for women, into the contemporary mind, and suddenly the colors are reminiscent of a Martha Stewart Living magazine, also proclaiming the joys of quiet and controlled domestic living.   On the opposite wall from the medallions are two strips of wall-paper, tacked up, with the edges loose and bulges by the tacks.  These pieces of paper stand in stark contrast to the well placed order on the other side of the room.

Hughes Villa is a wife and a mother, and I do not believe she is making a statement that rejects either of those occupations, but rather acknowledges what all wives and mothers sometimes feel in the quest to create well-organized lives.

Her Website:

http://aurorahughesvilla.com/Artist.asp?ArtistID=28980&Akey=MND4MRXE

ceramic art

The Magic Box

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Though the video was completed in May, we have done very little to share and promote it beyond our Facebook circle.  Preparing the work for our first major show entry has motivated us to begin sharing in earnest.  Here we share the video and a brief artist statement that accompanies the work.  If you are interested in learning about the project, we have blogged it extensively since October of last year.

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Foxy-Wolff is an art collaborative featuring artists Gabe Wolff and Kate Fox. The focus of our work is in uniting the oldest forms of art (ceramic) with the newest (digital technology) into works that honor both history and craft tradition, while at the same time exploring contemporary life and culture in a thoughtful and meaningful way.

The Magic Box project is inspired by toys and explores the lives of ceramic figurines as the Magic Box influences them. Central to this work is a story of misplaced desire and addiction, and one squid’s attempt to save his relationship and understand his world.

The ceramic objects are central to a project that includes technology within, in the form of touch screen portable devices and technology without, in the form of a video that uses the house and its characters as the set and actors.

 

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International Top 10: Pamela Mei Yee Leung

Early in the semester I did a lot of research for this project.  Power points, web research and books.  All that research went into a gray covered Moleskine note-book that i have used for my ceramic classes for a couple of semesters.  Today, as I ran out of the last artists that I remembered from that list, I realized that the notebook was missing.  It’s no where in my house that I can find.  It may be at the studio or somewhere else and I  may  yet find it, but today it might as well not exist.

Rather than panic, or start the entire process over again with the research, I though I might trust fate and see what the Google gods would bring me.  I put ceramic video into the search engine and got back a load of instructional videos.  I changed it up slightly and added  art to the already existing search.  It was largely the same, except the last hit on the first page, was a video posted by The Guardian UK on the artist Pamela Mei Yee Leung.

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/video/2012/mar/08/ceramic-artist-pamela-mei-yee-leung-video

Born in China, and immigrated to England at 14, Leung seems to have been that rare third element, created by combining two different things.  This is the essence of what I am working toward in my experience of collaboration and why I am so interested in other artists that collaborate.  Leung is a collaboration of Chinese and Western culture, compressed into a single person.  If you watch the video you will hear her speak both accents, at the same time.  It is wonderful and musical and seems so rare.

Her work too is a fusion of both cultures, the content is so clearly Chinese in origin Yet her approach is that of a westerner, the work is loose and direct and has a sense of whimsy that the English tradition clearly brings.

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The work is autobiographical and much of it from the last decade of her life was focused on her ongoing battle with cancer.  The animal heads point to different emotional states and states of being in herself and others as she went down the long road of illness.

The video shows her working with coils to the legs of some creature. the slow attention and careful execution are delightful to watch, there is a sense in watching her make those legs that there is nothing she would rather be doing and the quality of attention reveals a devotion to the material and process so essential to its mastery.  It is this quality of attention that reminded me of something that I tell all my students.  I remind them that work in ceramic will outlast us, in some cases by millennia, and that to work in ceramic in a way requires a letting go of time, when considering its  long history as a human material and each pieces potential longevity.  Pamela Mei Yee Leung lost her battle with cancer, yet she is still enriching lives by the work she has left behind, and it will continue to accumulate story and meaning through decades and generations.

This work feels aware of that.  No certainty of time, but absolute timelessness.

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As I’ve mentioned before, we are only permitted two artists from any single culture in this assignment.  I have two from both England and China, yet I feel certain that this artist’s work is neither and both and so an entirely new country.

Her website

http://www.pamleung.com

 

Sculpture

Stone Woman

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The Venus of Willendorf (or Woman of Willendorf as she is now known) is one of the first pieces of art I can remember being aware of.  The first time I saw a photo of this tiny sculpture I felt a deep connection.  Throughout my making life I have returned again and again to this piece for inspiration.  After writing a paper on sculpture of the Gravettian last semester and doing a series of paintings this past summer featuring figurines from the same period I knew I wanted to include the Willendorf figurine in this body of work.  Initially I thought I would have another couple, living  in the attic, and that the fairy godmother figure would come from outside the house.  As the script evolved however and I got real about the extreme limits of space in the top floor I arrived at a reworked concept to change the roll of this figurine within the story.  She was sculpted from a solid block of clay using many images of the original for reference.  Like Bob, this object is something that people know.  I wanted it to be instantly recognizable so I would not have to involve explanation in the dialog of the video.  Of course some modification was necessary as the original can not stand on her own and this one has to not only stand but “walk” within her space.  Her surface is a fired wash using red iron oxide, traces of which still cling to the nearly 26,000 year old original.

With this piece the objects for the film are complete, though I may remake the magic box holders to allow more room inside the apartments.  The next step then in video production is to construct the set and determine the lighting.  It is our intent to continue with this concept for at least 3 more films, so all our decisions are being made deliberately so that the filming can grow as the world does.

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