Heesoo Lee has spent years carefully layering blades of grass, pine trees, and cherry blossoms to construct botanic entanglements that crawl across ceramic mugs and bowls. Inspired by seasonal woodlands and aspen forests, the Montana-based artist recreates bright pockets of landscapes that capture small motions, like falling fronds or rustling branches. “There is movement in trees, but it is slow and subtle, a leaf in wind, the slow growth of new leaves in spring,” she says.
While Lee has continued this tradition with many of her recent pieces, she’s expanded her source material to the ocean. For seven years, the artist lived in Maui, where she often surveyed the water. “I could sit on a beach all day and watch the waves, observe them, and feel calmed by them but also respectful of their energy and force,” she says. The memory has inspired a textured piece that swells upward to form a cavernous bowl. “Even in a small object, the waves are powerful and convey so much. For me, the waves connote freedom, the freedom to express myself and take risks,” the artist writes.
Diverging from land posed new challenges in Lee’s process. For landscapes, the artist repeats elements in layers to create a fully formed piece, but the same technique didn’t translate to water. “The first time I tried to make waves I failed. I failed over and over and over after that. There were cracks, pieces broke off,” she says. “I realized the feeling of making a wave is so much different from making a landscape.” Instead, Lee retrained her hands to follow the movement of the water, using slip casting, carving, and a series of manual techniques to capture its energy and force. Her color palette changed from amalgamations that evoked seasons to a precise set of blues.
Despite her forays into aquatic forms, Lee maintains an affinity for grassy fields and windswept boughs, which she explains:
My seasonal work, landscapes that focus on all four seasons, are still a mainstay of my practice. The memories that fuel the images are so powerful for me, and it gives me great pleasure to share my interpretation of those memories with people… I have heard from people that drinking from a cup I made helped them channel their own memories of the outdoors and the seasons, even during a time when they are stuck inside.
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Tatiana Cardona’s ceramic planters, mugs, and vases might pucker up for a kiss but their lips will never tell. The Miami-based artist, who runs the shop Female Alchemy, creates playful vessels featuring pursed lips lined in reds and pinks and minimal faces with moody expressions. “The concept of lips was inspired by the feminist movement in the ’60s-’70s where red lipstick stood as a symbol of protest. The work has since then evolved into a positive and fun way to promote femininity in a sacred and ancient medium such as ceramics,” she writes in a statement.
Cardona tells Colossal she hopes that her work evolves beyond the solitary vessels into “a space where female creativity is encouraged and nurtured.” The artist will release her next collection Summer of Love on Instagram and has some sticker packs available in her shop.
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While some of Lalese Stamps’s mugs might be safe to grab before you’re fully caffeinated, exercise caution with others. Last year, the Columbus-based ceramicist, of Lolly Lolly Ceramics, embarked on a 100 Day Project, her personal challenge to design dozens of new handles for her monochromatic mugs. A graphic designer by day, Stamps recently completely the impressive undertaking, and the result is an incredible array of knobs, spikes, and circular grips. See the full collection, in addition to videos diving into her process, on Instagram. (via Jessica Hische)
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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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Editor's Picks: Design
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.