Saturday, December 31, 2011
The last weeks of 2011 saw the passing of the sculptor John Chamberlain, whose welded sculptures made from scrap parts of automobiles never fail to seduce with their world-weary abraded surfaces and paint colors that speak of long useful lives spent going and going more, until going no more. I think when I first saw Chamberlain's work as an art student, I may have romanticized the idea of the possible back-story of a high-speed car smash-up; " Leader Of The Pack " kind of stuff. These images from a recent show had me jazzed more by the fluidity of shapes in space, almost brushstroke-like in many instances. And this time I was the one traveling: forward, backward, around the perimeter, looking into the nooks and crannies, then doing the step-out and reverse to get the big picture again. Just the way I like to experience sculpture.
Quickly after the passing of Steve Jobs this fall, I happened upon this two-sided tribute on Bond Street between Bowery & Lafayette in my neighborhood. With cut strips of photos attached to opposing sides of an iron fence, one sees separate images from early and late in the life of Jobs.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
Monday, February 7, 2011
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Messy weather, even unpleasantly so. Ice-encased branches. but still pretty cool when the warmer softening moment lets you lift off a perfectly formed cast of delicate twig. amazing that even the texture of the bark is perfectly preserved. for a minute.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Some evidence of the longstanding preoccupation we here at the Dojo have had with pinecones. It was nice to stumble upon this second century A.D. roman terracotta jar, said to have been found in Gaul, and described as having "barbotine decoration". A little digging leads me to state that barbotine is the same technique I would call slip trailing, namely, piping a semi-liquid slurry onto a leatherhard pot to produce a raised texture ( not the way my vase shape was decorated ).
Alongside the decorative, the breathtaking, and the puzzling ancient artifacts it is also fun to see this comparison of unglazed, strictly functional jars which present minor variations on the same container. The ability to easily seal up the top for efficient transport, the double handles to enable two people to off-load and carry, and the tapering base that may have helped them nest together better when laid on their sides were the considerations that dictated these shapes. Clays from different locales show a range of color and texture.
Excavations which describe finding literal hill-sized castoffs of similar jars give a perspective onto their discardability, however surprising that may seem to us now.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I was intrigued by the sudden decision to change the terms of exhibition of this large installation piece, which involved 100 million sunflower seed replicas hand-crafted from clay and slips over the course of several years by the inhabitants of the "porcelain city" of Jingdezhen, China. Being unable to see the actual clay units, I relied on Roberta Smith's New York Times article, as well as the Tate Modern's video presentation of the work's making to help me envision the sight and sound of what it must have been like to traipse through the space and pick up handfuls of the realistic-seeming seeds which, nonetheless, did fall short of being truly lifelike, for my money, from what the video shows. Still, it must have been lovely... . In the documentary video, the artist is shown walking through a large room filled with the seeds. He speculates that viewers will initially take them for the real thing, since the scale of such an undertaking is too mind-boggling. He imagines they might pick up a seed to test it in their mouth ( which I wouldn't urge doing if the slips get some of their color from manganese ). My hunch is that they didn't have a glaze coating over the slips, and perhaps if the units were done all in a once-firing, that the surface was being abraded a great deal thus kicking up what was reported to be visible clouds of dust when viewers came into contact with the piece. With raw clay, or even underfired clay, dust will be an issue. And of course, where there's visible dust, that means that there must also be a quite high amount of the never-visible sub-micron particles that pose the threat of lung damage. The articles I saw about the curtailment of the audience-participation aspect of Weiwei's piece spoke of concern for viewer's health, but failed to mention the more sustained danger that museum staff would be subject to. Walking through a dustcloud, especially if you are asthmatic, is a bad idea, but to be subject to days, even months-long exposure through no choice of your own, well that's another matter. In a post re: Zhang Huan's piece at PaceWildenstein in June of 2008, you can see a Clay Dojo entry addressing similar concerns. That said, thanks for all the writing on clay-related artwork and pots that you have contributed of late, Roberta. We here at the Dojo appreciate .. . .. . . .. .http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/19/arts/design/19sunflower.html
Friday, October 15, 2010
This mug shape is hard to translate into a successful photo. It is one where I went perhaps slightly overboard in the number of ring protrusions I attached, and they even impinge into the interior of the cup, which makes it funky but trickier to drink out of. Not good for a left-handed sipper. I kind of wanted to push the idea though, to see what would happen. This glaze is called Val's Green at my studio, named after its formulator, the potter Val Cushing.