Just like a recent study reporting that facial expressions are more complex than we think, Fan Yanting wants to delve into the sentiment behind the scowl or smirk on a stranger’s face. The Taiwanese artist shapes small vessels and dinnerware in neutral tones that don a series of emotions, from an unsmiling vase to a set of defensive mugs. Only starting to create ceramics during the last year, Fan hand-sculpts each set of eyes, nose, and mouth without deciding which emotion he’s trying to capture beforehand. “I empty my mind when I’m sculpting the human faces. I might plan the pottery shape and maybe where I’d like to position the face, but I don’t start with specific character designs in mind,” the artist tells Neocha.
Fan’s focus on expressions derives from how he sees human relationships, saying people often respond to those around them by projecting their own understandings of what a facial expression signifies. “Maybe a face will remind someone of an old friend, a family member, or the coffee shop owner down the street. By leading viewers to experience everyday items that have different faces, I hope to explore this phenomenon in my work,” the artist says. To see which emotion pops up next, head to Instagram. (via Lustik)
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Relying on a simple color palette, Amy Victoria Marsh crafts minimalist ceramics meant to inspire positivity and humor. The Manchester-based artist creates playful pieces ranging from supine women reading to others wrapped up on a sushi bed to her “Happy Poo” collection. Her pastel fortune cookie even comes in an illustrated package with an uplifting saying stuffed inside.
Marsh tells It’s Nice That that much of her lighthearted work has been inspired by a 2016 visit to Japan. “From the typography found everywhere, to the personification of most objects, the Japanese have a unique take on design, which I find hugely inspiring,” she said. Her love for all things tiny, though, began during her childhood. “I was madly into toys such as Polly Pocket and Sylvanian Families and loved looking at illustrated stamps,” she said. “Looking back at my childhood it’s no wonder I’m making some of the work I am today!”
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Chicago-based designer Yuting Chang has conceived of a way to build the traditional blue and white pigments often found on porcelain into the very structure of her ceramics. Through slip casting, a process in which the artist can switch between colors within the mold, Chang is able to incorporate up to 29 alternately pigmented layers that are visible on cut surfaces. Rather than use a glaze to add different shades once the basic shape of her mugs and saucers are complete, Chang’s pieces only show their colors on the rims and edges, revealing the interior. The artist crafts each handle and saucer feet through slip-casting, before attaching them by hand to the main portion of the ceramic piece. She appropriately named her work Plycelain, a reference to how plywood is constructed with layers of compressed wood.
“Blue-and-white ware is the most classical and influential type of Chinese porcelain but these days it is largely slip-cast, with the decorative motifs applied by transfer-printing,” the artist told Dezeen. “I wanted to utilize this mass production technique, meant to create large quantities of standardized products, while keeping the authenticity and individuality of the craftsmanship spirit.” For more of Chang’s inventive designs, head to her Instagram.
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From her home studio near Bristol, Lisa Stevens designs heavily detailed sculptures that mimic sea life and natural elements. Her small bowls are complete with ridges and plant-like protrusions, while her organ-shaped sculptures are teeming with seemingly endless dots and scores that imitate coral reefs, flowers, minerals, moss, and lichen. Formerly a sculptor for Aardman Animations, Stevens forgoes stamps, texture sheets, or molds to craft each mark with a small set of tools, ensuring no pieces are identical. Most of her works are made of high-fired porcelain clay that becomes translucent when light shines through it. The sculptor often uses stoneware glazes, underglaze, or melted glass to finish her pieces with vibrant pigments.
Stevens said in an artist’s statement that she intends “to highlight the issues that human activity has on the environment. Small differences in each of our behaviours can add up to make a big difference.” More of Steven’s geologically inspired sculptures can be found on Instagram, and some are even available for purchase on Etsy.
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Japanese artist En Iwamura creates large ceramic sculptures of heads with minimalist facial features. Holes and slits reference eyes and mouths on the oddly-shaped forms, while uniform grooves traverse the clay surfaces in complex patterns. With site-responsive installations, the artist introduces viewers to the Japanese philosophy of Ma—the relationship between viewers, objects, and negative space—and gives them the opportunity to experience it first-hand.
Born in Kyoto to artist parents, Iwamura studied at Kanazawa College of Craft and Art where he earned MFA and BFA in Crafts/Ceramics. In 2013, he traveled to the United States to study at Clemson University and was later invited to give artist talks and lead workshops in New Hampshire and Montana. Through lectures, his artistic practice, and exhibitions with New York-based Ross + Kramer Gallery, Iwamura has explored ways of altering audience experiences while introducing them to the uniquely Japanese concept of Ma. “People constantly read and measure different Ma between themselves,” the artist said in a statement, “and finding the proper or comfortable Ma between people or places can provide a specific relationship at a given moment.”
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Magnificently Detailed Porcelain Vessels by Hitomi Hosono Are Blossoming with Hundreds of Flowers, Leaves, and Branches
Stunning new decorative vessels by Hitomi Hosono layer delicate porcelain flowers and leaves into dimensional forms that appear almost alive. The lavishly embellished bowls and vases feature clusters of finely detailed blossoms, ferns, and stylized tree branches in an aesthetic somewhere between realistic and stylized. In a statement on her gallery’s website, the Japan-born, London-based artist explains that she is inspired by walks in her neighborhood. She closely examines each botanical specimen to create models and moulds, and then hand-carves additional details on each pressed sprig.
Since we last covered Hosono’s work, she has been an Artist in Residence at Wedgwood—the video below takes a look inside the artist’s practice during that time. The London-based artist exhibits widely, and most recently had work on view in “A Natural Selection” at The Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh. Explore much more of Hosono’s work on the Adrian Sasson website, and peek inside her studio practice by following her on Instagram.
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Winged elephants, multi-eared rabbits, and carrot-legged babies ready to be dipped in hummus: recent sculptures by Debra Broz (previously) continue to expand her collection of odd mashups formed from found ceramics. By carefully sourcing, separating, and re-fusing juxtaposed components of otherwise unremarkable ceramic knick-knacks, Broz forms entirely new creatures that are equal parts bizarre and humorous. The Los Angeles-based artist tells Colossal that she finds inspiration in absurdity:
I think a lot of us are frequently telling ourselves that the world is this very serious place, and that our lives as adults require careful consideration—and to a degree that’s true—but we also need to take time to realize that the world is also wildly full of nonsense, and that aspects of our lives are incredibly ridiculous. And I think it’s completely fair for us to recognize that, and laugh about it.
Broz also sees surprise as an important element in her work. Creating the opportunity for viewers’ expectations to be upended and their planned narrative disrupted makes her small sculptures uniquely memorable. She tells Colossal that acquiring a prank wooden outhouse built by her grandfather (not life-size) that explodes when a quarter is dropped in helped her articulate the importance of the unexpected in her practice. “For me, that object—the exploding outhouse—is weirdly inspirational in the way it takes something unassuming and makes it into something that surprises or bewilders people,” Broz explains. “It’s funny how that theme is so prevalent in my sculpture, but I had never thought about it in the context of my grandpa’s exploding outhouse until recently.”
In addition to adding to her ceramic-centric body of work, Broz has been experimenting recently with stuffed animals and balloons. The malleable materials make it easier to stretch her imagination and try out new ideas. She’s also been working in multiples, creating different variations on the same animal: the two white rabbits shown here were a part of that series. “It was a really interesting process to see how many ideas I could think of to alter that one particular form. That also got me interested in the idea of how much you can change a form before it stops being what it was and becomes something else,” Broz explains.
On November 16, 2019, you can see some of Broz’s iterative rabbits at the Track 16 Gallery Anniversary Show, and will have a piece up for auction in a fundraiser supporting Monte Vista Projects, an artist space and curatorial collective of which Broz is a part. Follow along with the artist’s latest creative endeavors on Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Architecture
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.