Artist Statements

 The ceramic vessel has always been my primary vehicle of artistic expression.  I am fascinated by its deep and unparalleled history and position between nature and culture.  While the vessels that I make are not utilitarian nor do they explicitly refer to a historical pottery type or style, I believe that I use them  as a device to address the essential.  On a simple level they do attempt to pay homage to what pottery from around the world has always been required to do,  hold, preserve, offer, commemorate and beautify.  
 
Marriage, fertility, creation, death and the difference between the numinous and pure materiality are the essential primary subjects related to human experience that occur and reoccur in my work.  
Much of the work is dichotomous in nature; being both sensual and cerebral, organic & geometric, solid & weightless, masculine & feminine.
 
In the end, whether it might be a vase on a table, an empty coin bank, the bowl on the night stand, a burial urn or a ballot box, what could be more natural than to put something.....meaning....... in a vessel?

                                                                                         
 
                                                                                       Perforated Vessels
 

There is something ironic about taking a material like clay which is dense, opaque and ruled by gravity, creating eggshell thin forms and then removing as much material as possible one hole at a time and replacing material with light. It creates forms that levitate. The more material I remove, the more visually intense the work becomes. It is addition by subtraction.

 

Light penetrates the crystalline structure of the glazed surface and refracts back out. Additionally, light passses directly through the densly perforated surface frequently casting curious shadows both outside and inside the form(s). When the angle is correct one can see through the work.

 

A universal archetypal geometric form vocabulary is always at play in the work. These are the fundemental building blocks of all things physical. There is a dynamism for me when these, the “truest” of all forms, are dematerialize one small hole at a time to ultimately suggest the ethereal. The meaning of the work resides in it’s visual phenomenon. 

 
 
 
 

                                                                                             TerraCottaHouse 

 

Makes sense that most things I make carry the DNA of the work that came before. TerraCottaHouse is that and however in some ways a bit of a departure. The construction of all phases from start to finish of the vessel and most of the elements is based primarily on right angles.   

 

I use a non-traditional assortment of hand and power tools to assist me in fabricating each object in the vessel.   Between cutting with power tools and polishing surfaces with lapidary equipment, I not only create finished shapes but surfaces are also completed by a method of subtraction.  This is a contradiction to the history of how ceramic art is traditionally completed, most typically by adding something before the final fire.  It is a difference that appeals to me.  

 

At the heart of the TerraCottaHouse project is the idea that terra cotta is historically one of the great building materials of all civilized time and the terra cotta brick a highwater mark invention, not to mention so beautiful in all of it’s humiltiy.  So the work is a constructivist homage to terra cotta in a way.  The idea of what is elemental in my work continues to take different forms but remains important and at the core of much of the history of what I have made.

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

 © 2016 Tony Marsh Ceramics