My current ceramic work reflects an investigation into several areas of interest and an attempt to unify solutions to various visual problems. One interest is in the vessel as an abstract sculptural form and its many associations, both literal and metaphoric. Another is pattern and color and how a collection of abstract elements can create various feelings or impressions. A third is an interest in the investigation of surface pattern and three dimensional form. The technique that I use, which results in a penetration of the pattern through the thickness of the wall so as to be visible on both the outside and the inside, is a partial solution to the problem; but from a strictly two dimensional standpoint I am also concerned with how the pattern relates to the form as seen in the profile.
A certain degree of illusionism of depth is created by some color/pattern combinations and I enjoy the play of this implied visual depth vs. the “flat” modulating surface of the pot vs. the real depth that is present in the interior space. My aim is not, however, to create strong illusions nor representational or abstracted pictures on the pots.
My initial attraction to the nerikomi technique came from its organic union of pattern and structure. Rather than the former being applied to the latter, as in most decorative pottery traditions, the two are one and the same. The natural world abounds with this sort of union and as a result, offers endless inspiration for pattern making. The other aspect that was particularly attractive to me was the translation of the physical properties of clay into a visual format. By this I mean that the very plasticity of the clay is made visible in the way that an imposed pattern is altered. Straight parallel lines are created by stacking up slices of various colored clays but in the manipulation of the resulting soft block of clay, the lines become undulating or are perhaps made to taper down to hair’s breadth. Porcelain, of course, shows off this quality to its greatest extent but the principle is the same with any clay. I think of my patterns as being a collaboration between my imposed structure and the clay’s wise alteration of that structure.
In addition to the natural sources, I have found inspiration for patterns in a number of other areas. Fabric design has recently been of great interest to me as well as a variety of non-ceramic craft traditions. Graphic Design of all sorts serves as visual stimulation and color ideas can come as easily from a magazine ad as from a rock, shell, or flower.