Our Changing Seas III is the third piece in a series of large-scale ceramic coral reef sculptures by artist Courtney Mattison. The sprawling installation is entirely hand-built and is meant to show the devastating transition coral reefs endure when faced with climate change, a process called bleaching. She shares via email:
At its heart, this piece celebrates my favorite aesthetic aspects of a healthy coral reef surrounded by the sterile white skeletons of bleached corals swirling like the rotating winds of a cyclone. There is still time for corals to recover even from the point of bleaching if we act quickly to decrease the threats we impose. Perhaps if my work can influence viewers to appreciate the fragile beauty of our endangered coral reef ecosystems, we will act more wholeheartedly to help them recover and even thrive.
Toronto-based artist Jess Riva Cooper created this haunting collection of ceramic busts called her Viral Series as part of an artist residency last fall at The Kohler Factory in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The pieces seem to lie at the peculiar intersection of life and death, as it should be given her inspiration behind the sculptures. Cooper shares about the Viral Series via email:
In my art practice I integrate colour, drawing, and clay to create installation-based artwork. I investigate fallen economic and environmental climates in regions such as Detroit, Michigan, where houses have become feral, disappearing behind ivy, trees and Kudzu vines that were planted generations ago. In my sculptures, the world sprouts plant matter. Colour and form burst forth from quiet gardens and bring chaos to ordered spaces. Nature reclaims its place by creeping over structures. Wild floral growth subverts past states, creating the preternatural from this transformation.
As a person who’s spent more than a few hours at the seat of a potter’s wheel I can attest to the strangely soothing act of doodling around with wet clay sludge (called slip) before or after throwing a pot. As fun as it is, it’s still somewhat surprising to see the act elevated to this level of artistry by Michael GardnerMikhail Sadovnikov who blurs the line between performance and visual art as he creates pattern after pattern on an empty wheel. (via The Awesomer)
Graphic designer and illustrator Irma Gruenholz toiled away in Madrid as an ad agency art director before shifting gears and launching a freelance career in illustration. While she’s perfectly capable working with pencils and paints, it was her decision to work in 3D that really set things in motion. Gruenholz painstakingly builds each illustration with hand-sculpted modelling clay before lighting and photographing it, giving each piece a beautiful sense of depth. Lately her work has been popping up in books, magazines, and advertisements around the world and you can see more on Facebook and over on Behance. If this tickled your brain, you might also dig Shintaro Ohata.
UK-based artist Beccy Ridsdel creates fun yet strangely macabre interventions where ceramics have been surgically altered to reveal additional layers of detail. Where the metaphor of surgery might normally evoke blood and guts, Ridsdel instead reveals further floral patterns inside bone china plates and cups. The pieces are part of an ongoing examination regarding the perception of ceramics as craft or art. You can see more of her work over on Facebook and she has a few pieces for sale in her shop. (via Slow Art Day)
Artist Brett Kern creates detailed ceramic objects that at first appear almost indistinguishable from inexpensive inflatable toys. Kern mimics the tell-tale wrinkles and forms of air-filled toys like dinosaurs, astronauts, balloons, and even whoopie cushions—all made from clay. You can see more work in his gallery, and he has several pieces available in his Etsy shop. (via Laughing Squid)
While the standard response to insects crawling across your food or dinner plate is usually nothing less than repulsion, that didn’t stop German artist Evelyn Bracklow of La Philie from creating these one-of-a-kind vintage porcelain dishes covered in hordes of hand-painted ants. Bracklow says of the pieces:
The idea for this work resulted from pure chance, when the sight of a carelessly placed plate—by then wandered by ants—fascinated me so much that I felt the urge to simply conserve this image. Fear, disgust, fascination and admiration: this very interplay of feelings constitutes the charm of the work. Furthermore, to me, the ants symbolize all the stories that any formerly discarded piece of porcelain carries with it. Where one once dined and drank, today ants bustle in ever new formations, every single one applied with a great love for detail.
It’s not hard to see that each piece is incredibly detailed and well-executed, making it strangely beautiful despite what it portrays. This balance of superb execution versus creepy subject matter may be the reason she’s had no problem selling the objects over on Etsy, where a number of them are currently available. (via Whimsebox)
With an adept understanding of ceramics and anatomy, Hong-Kong based artist Johnson Tsang (previously here and here) creates strange and unexpected anthropomorphic sculptures where human forms seem to splash effortlessly through functional objects like bowls, plates, and cups. While the works shown here are mostly innocent and comical in nature the artist is unafraid of veering into more macabre subject matter in other artworks that grapple with war and violence.
Tsang recently opened a solo show, Living Clay, at the Yingge Ceramics Museum in Taiwan that runs through January 19, 2014. You can see many more pieces from the exhibition over on his blog where you can also catch a glimpse of works in progress.