Sasha Barrett, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Using red earthenware, bold brush strokes, and a complimentary palette of colored slips and washes, Sasha Barrett creates functional vessels that evoke a sense of movement as well as the agricultural landscape and culture of his native country, Ukraine. The brush strokes are quick and intuitive, exuding an immediacy that is also present in the forms themselves, which are built using coil techniques and refined on a banding wheel.
Building the vessels in this way, and creating subtle transitions between elements—the neck and rim of a vase or the shallow curve of a plate and its flat, raised rim—creates subtle idiosyncrasies in each piece. Exploring variations of a motif, like a few stalks of wheat or a row of wheat plants in a field, further adds to the individual feel of each handbuilt form.
Each piece communicates a sense of history through a combination of the white slip loosely brushed over the red clay, and the layers of underglaze, stain, and glaze that are applied at various stages. By leaving bare spots from thinner brush strokes, areas where the slip was wiped away, or areas where his fingers created a resist as he held and dipped the piece in the slip, Barrett allows the earthen red color of the clay to play a strong role in each composition. The visibility of the red clay and color palette referencing the Ukrainian flag relate to the agricultural history of his homeland while also individualizing each piece.