Bradley Klem, State College, Pennsylvania
Since first discovering ceramics while studying painting years ago, Bradley Klem’s nimble ability to fluctuate between two- and three-dimensional surfaces has been one of his greatest tools in creating functional forms with poignant messages. His vessels express a tactile quality with undulating surfaces ebbing and flowing around each pot. Klem’s early surfaces focused on two-dimensional drawings on simple forms—tumblers, diner mugs, and small bowls with images of fish, reptiles, and fishermen—then subtle nuances in alteration of form started to appear in divots around handles and ripples in the walls of jars. Klem has an ability to successfully activate those drawings to essentially elevate the viewer’s physical and tactile experience with the pot. His vessels now take on a haptic quality, integrating color and shape to bring fish, trash, and fishing to life.
The current narrative in the work has also evolved from one of outdoor pursuits to that of desperate environmental decline caused by human consumption and the overwhelming detritus in our water systems. With titles like Trash Can Island, Consumer Confusion, and Junk Food Junky, Klem employs small, mold-made objects protruding from the form and mashed together to form bases and lids. Klem’s deft ability to manipulate two- and three-dimensional surfaces is both beautiful and a haunting call to action.