Life, Still.



"Where there is much light, the shadow is deep."
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The process of coiling and pinching clay gives volume and mass to my thoughts and is an integral part of my creative practice. The marks left in the surface are the indelible record of this method.  Through its material affordances, porcelain has an uncomplicated way of encoding the marks of my hands, storing those actions and recalling them to the world on its surface.  

Material exploration assists in the construction of my perceptions of time, narrative and self through the juxtaposition of the tangible and permanent characteristics of clay with the ephemeral nature of light and shadow.  I am ultimately concerned with the exploration of humanistic ideas about presence, relationships, memory and mortality.  

Porcelain is a strong and dense, yet fragile material. Once it is fired, whether in shards or as a complete object, clay will never cease to be stone-like in its permanence. It brings the past forward in a way that our human mortal memory cannot. It speaks to memory on a grand scale and the process of coiling and pinching lends humanity to the surface of pieces that in ordinary life would be inert objects.

I juxtapose objects often seen in formal still lifes, such as bottles and vases, with common contemporary objects, like cords or lights, to convey ideas about existence and memory, both collective and individual. The narrative that is revealed through a grouping of objects collected over time speaks to history and remembrance in a way that is somewhat incomplete. Constructing similar shapes and objects is a way to think or hold onto thoughts; to make them permanent. 

I use shadows to conjure the idea of the intangible, something that is present, but illusive. Through the use of a slightly reflective dark glaze, I attempt to create objects that recall shadows with a very physical presence. My application of color through reflected light on a collection of bottles or small goblets, also serves as an experiment in manipulating atmosphere and emotion or sparking memory.

I am attracted to the uncertainty, awkwardness and precariousness of being human, the balance of vulnerability and safety, of excess and not enough and circumstances that are illuminated by our daily habits, rituals and communications.

I hope to communicate these emotions in my work through my choices about ceramic processes, materials and arrangements of objects. My intention is to expose something that we all can relate to: the need for balance and mindfulness, through my consideration of light and shadow, color and reflection, and a whole made of many parts.

 -Kelly O’Briant