Ben Jordan, Belgrade, Montana
The ornate surfaces of Ben Jordan’s vessels combine with strong, refined, and striking forms. Jordan enjoys working within the context of utility, and having the finished work show a sense of the importance and connection he feels with all of the pieces he makes. The surfaces, featuring floral forms, buds, and leaves, relate to the pattern work on saddles that was brought to the Americas by Spanish conquistadors and later continued to decorate the saddles used by cowboys in the American West. The inviting, elegant pattern thus simultaneously becomes a reminder of the romanticized American West; the ways native people, animals, and the land itself were historically mistreated; and of the impact that legacy has had on our contemporary culture.
The scale of the patterns and ways they are applied to the surfaces, which reference the ways tattoo imagery is applied to the body, both competes with and highlights the form, constantly shifting the eye’s focus and further engaging the viewer. The forms themselves also appear layered, with some sections featuring highly delineated shifts in direction as well as hiding and revealing the marks made by wheel-throwing, handbuilding, and press molding the clay.