I have developed a process very similar to Jun Kaneko while making my first sculpture this semester, and watching this gave me some more things to consider!
My biggest inspiration for this body of work stemmed from vegetables. Focusing on the cuts made during vegetable preparation, I began to explore eggplant, asparagus and celery
My work and ideas this year have also been influenced by many artists:
Here are the artist statements for the 2 projects I’m working on:
Project 1: Parts Unused
Cooking food is a tradition that has existed since the first deliberate use of fire (between 500,000 and 1.5 million year ago). This series is rooted in the act of cooking, “freezing” the moment in time right after a piece of produce has been cut. Inspired by the beautiful colors, textures and designs that are revealed when the edible part is cut off, these hand built, stoneware sculptures are magnified replicas of the portion that is generally discarded without notice.
Today, cooking doesn’t seem as integral a part of modern American life as it was to our ancestors. Society has evolved, and the resulting lifestyle is now much more reliant on stores and restaurants to fulfill their nutritional needs. These sculptures symbolize what cooking means to me, while allowing the working process to be enjoyable and reinforce its underlying concepts. As I work on these sculptures using real produce for reference, the work forces me to continually cook for myself in order to get new references as the old ones decay. My main interest of these pieces is visual, revealing a beauty that inspires me during daily life. The ordinary subject matter connects this work to a wide audience, while the underlying ideas of cooking and the human mark give the sculptures a conceptual drive.
Project 2: Potential
When a task has a “right” way of execution, it can shut the door of opportunity to find new, unexpected and beautiful things. I discovered this concept while throwing on the wheel for exactly 5 minutes; I had to stop when time was up, and I had to throw for the entire time even if the pot falls over. The “rules” of wheel throwing generally encourage starting over if the pot falls over, but by forcing myself to continue to work I discovered very unexpected results. The series contains sculptures, made of pieces from these quickly thrown, spontaneous forms. The surface of each piece has detailed texture, inspired by the shape of each form and it’s throwing lines. I am interested in the process as well as conceptual aspects of this work.
Inspired partially by Matthew Barney’s Drawing Restraints (found here), I have developed a system which allows me to experiment with quick generation of form on the wheel. I made my own set of restrictions to follow as I let the element of chance and unplanned results inspire the work.
I will throw 5 forms in a category. Each form is thrown for exactly 5 mins. If the form flops before time is up, I MUST continue to try throwing. It the walls detach from the base, I must squeeze the clay back onto the wheel head and try to keep throwing it. After 5 forms are thrown in a category, I must use a part of each form to create a sculpture or series.
My first category was “Tall and Thin,” and these were the results:
I began to cut apart and reattach the forms to find a direction to take for the first sculpture/series. I found that the flopped pot (pictured above right) looked very interesting in cross-section.
To me, this speaks about missed opportunities. When a process has a prescribed “right and wrong” way, it can shut the door of opportunity to discover new, unexpected and beautiful things. When the “rules” of wheel throwing say to stop and start over when a pot flops, one might miss out on a beautiful discovery of what happens when you just keep going. This inspired me (:
And here are the results of my first try at creating a mini series of forms using parts of the 5 I threw in the Tall and Thin category:
I like the results, and I will do more work on the surfaces. I found that the category really dictates the way these forms will read when I put them together. Since this was the Tall and Thin category, the resulting sculptures/objects look like strangely functional vessels that have a purpose and reference cups/pitchers/etc. I like this a lot.
My next category is “Too Much Water”. I threw the forms with literally as much water as I could add for the entire 5 minutes, the resulting forms were very very different, and my next step is to start playing around with cutting/reattaching and see what happens.
I have tested many underglaze recipes, oxide washes, stains and colored slips for non-glaze methods of coloring the surface of my vegetables. The results are in, and I have chosen which recipes/combinations to use on the final pieces!
Most of the underglaze recipes didn’t adhere to the clay very well, or were absolutely not the color I wanted. Some of the colored slips and stains worked out very well (especially for asparagus colors!) and the oxide washes were a waste of time (haha). I found that the best way to go is pretty much factory underglaze.
After testing many combinations of underglaze, the secret magical PERFECT color for almost every vegetable I am making is CHARTREUSE! Thanks, chartreuse… you’re a life saver (:
To get that shiny, slightly wet surface on the inside of the vegetable when cut, I have also tested different amounts of sodium silicate and water. The best ratio I have found is 2 parts sodium silicate to 1 part water, applied in 2-3 thin coats. It creates a very lovely sheen without any thickness and highlights existing texture wonderfully!
I wonder what my work means to me, while spending hours rendering vegetables out of clay. The remains of cooking are being preserved, symbolizing the act of food preparation. But why? Is cooking important?
And then I stumbled across a wonderful interview; a short conversation with Michael Pollan:
“The effects of not cooking… and relying upon corporations to process our food means we consume large quantities of fat, sugar, and salt; disrupt an essential link to the natural world; and weaken our relationships with family and friends… taking back control of cooking may be the single most important step anyone can take to help make the American food system healthier and more sustainable.”
I’ve always loved Pollan, but never realized how food-oriented he is as an environmental activist. His book Cooked discusses this topic, while his website offers practical solutions for modern Americans:
Ah, thanks Michael… an inspiring concept to consider while I work (:
It made more sense for me to put the proposal and progress in one document, proposing future plans and then stating what I have done to get closer to the end result. I’ve attached it for your viewing pleasure.