Sydney-based artist Mechelle Bounpraseuth crafts life-sized ceramics that explore her identity as a first-generation daughter of Laotian refugees. Her small and glossy ceramic artwork, which ranges from drink cans to widely known sauces, explores her connection with her past and how branded ingredients are rooted in culinary culture and rituals.
Bounpraseuth was raised a Jehovah’s Witness, and despite many fond memories of her family and childhood, her religion discouraged her from pursuing artistic pursuits. She left the religion in her 20s and got married, realizing that her dream of becoming an artist was possible and that she didn’t have to succumb to the person her religion had wanted her to be.
Her creativity initially began from drawing and creating zines, before Bounpraseuth enrolled in a ceramics course and began crafting functional objects. Noticing her talent for the medium, her tutor encouraged her to pursue work with more artistic flair. She began to expand on her drawings of household objects by recreating them in clay and glossy bright colors.
One of Bounpraseuth’s ceramics is a Heinz Ketchup bottle, a condiment found in many family fridges and cupboards throughout the world. For the artist, the sauce represents the memory of her family eating pho together, a ritual in which they would come together and make the recipe from scratch with a dollop of ketchup. These sculptural forms are meaningful symbols to Bounpraseuth as the pho was a labor of love and would take her family all day to make.
Through the creation of these domestic objects from her past, Bounpraseuth uses her artwork as a way to reflect upon and process her childhood memories and as a way to navigate her old and new identities. These pieces illustrate how some values remain passed down from generations, like Bounparseuth’s reference to her family’s shared domesticity, while some core aspects of family, like religion, are not always.
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Stacked Chevron, Multi-Colored Stripes, and Ornamental Motifs Detail Frances Priest’s Meticulous Ceramics
Based in Edinburgh, artist Frances Priest merges stripes, chevron, and asanoha designs into impeccably complex motifs. Generally utilizing bold color palettes, Priest’s hand-built vases and bowls begin with sketches on paper before being transferred to test slabs of clay. The artist says she treats “the surface much like a sheet of paper,” as she inscribes each vessel using scalpels, patterns, and aluminum stamps.
The entirety of the piece is enveloped in the surface design so the works appear to wrapped in, or constructed out of pattern. I think it is a real treat to pick up an object and find that the base has been treated with the same care as the rest of the work, it makes the form complete and also allows for the group works to be re-arranged into different compositions.
Much of her intricate work is derived from The Grammar of Ornament by British architect Owen Jones, which her father gifted her as a child. The classic text focuses on ornamental design spanning multiple regions and periods. “I can distinctly remember spending hours as a child tracing the designs with my fingers, leafing from page to page and absorbing the visual languages on display,” Priest said in a statement. Her most recent vases from her Grammar of Ornament series directly reference the marble and tile mosaics found in the book’s Byzantine section, the artist tells Colossal.
Priest, though, doesn’t limit herself to representing only singular styles or eras. Her ongoing Gathering Places project serves as a collection “extracted from my sketchbook and collaged together into my own new designs—parquet, tiles, parasols, and swags. I use the title gathering places for all the half-sphere vessel forms because they are just that, places to gather together collections of decorative motifs,” she says. For example, “Architekten” is based on stark angles in buildings by the architecture firm Saurebruch Hutton, in addition to the natural foliage she discovered in illustrations of Vienna’s Villa Primavesi.
If you head to Instagram, you’ll find more of Priest’s elaborate ceramics, in addition to a coloring book she created that’s free to download.
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Despite lacking any distinct facial features, porcelain figures by Istanbul-based ceramicist Aylin Bilgiç have one unmistakable, defining characteristic: The lengthy braid resting on their oversized bodies evokes performance artist Marina Abramović, who is known for donning similarly styled locks. In another of Bilgiç’s pieces, two heads are back-to-back with their hair wound together, resembling Abramović’s 1978 collaboration with Uwe Laysiepen.
The monochromatic collection was designed specifically for Akış / Flux, an exhibition surveying Abramović’s work and offering 15 live performances. It is now on hold because of the global coronavirus pandemic. If you’d like to purchase one of the figurative pieces or a square pin, they’ll only be available in Sakıp Sabancı Museum’s shop, although they aren’t online just yet. See more of Bilgiç’s work on Behance and Instagram.
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Artist Hessa Al Ajmani often gathers small flowers and fronds from her mother’s garden. She brings the floral arrangements to her home studio, where she presses the groupings onto her earthenware and stoneware pieces, leaving simple and realistic imprints. Based in Ajman in the United Arab Emirates, the artist uses some plaster molds and stamps she creates herself, although each piece is hand-built, preventing any two from being exactly alike. Before firing, she peels off the greenery and petals, revealing the small grooves and divots that she later paints.
Because Al Aljmani doesn’t use a wheel, her pieces typically take hours, or even days, to finish. “I’ve been playing with all sorts of clay (air-drying, polymer, earthenware) since I was a child. I learned how to work with it professionally in university, but didn’t pick up the practice until about a year ago,” she said on her site. “I had to re-teach myself all the basics and do endless tests with clay consistency, form, texture, firings, etc.”
Shaping each ceramic piece and layering the found florals is therapeutic, the artist says, because it requires patience and has fostered an acceptance of and appreciation for imperfection. “My ceramic work speaks of my memories of home and the process of self-healing. Through imprints of flower, leaves, and patterns, it invokes a sense of nostalgia and the idea of home as a space of free thought and personal growth,” she said.
In addition to her own practice, the artist founded the Clay Corner Studio in 2019, which offers ceramics and painting classes. To watch Al Ajmani’s process, check out her Instagram and see which pieces she has available for purchase in her shop.
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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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