Zöe Powell, St. Paul, Minnesota
Organic, weathered, earthy, and minimal are all words that can be used to describe Zoë Powell’s functional and sculptural ceramic forms. Each one is perfectly imbalanced with just the right amount of tension added in the positioning of the pods or the curves of the lobes that make up each vessel, causing them to sit slightly askew on a flat surface.
The forms also have a biological structure, appearing skeletal with ribs protruding from under a skin or like a seed pod empty of its contents and discarded. The viewer perceives this life-like quality as being both tranquil and tense at the same time, as if someone is struggling in their own skin or as if a plant was left to quietly decay and return to the earth.
The physical movement embodied in the forms and surfaces is created by the use of a single clay body built, shaped, altered, carved, and then obsessively ribbed and sponged to bring the grog to the surface, which Powell leaves exposed and naked, adding a rawness to each piece, reminding us of how our own bodies are flesh and bones that we, too, finesse—often to extreme levels of attenuation.