Taylor Sijan, Lincoln, Nebraska
Ceramics Monthly: What techniques do you use to make your work and why?
Taylor Sijan: I use a combination of wheel throwing, altering, and handbuilding. I throw because I enjoy the immediacy of manipulating the clay, the subtleties of using muscle memory to create form, and the bulbous volume that can be quickly captured. I alter the thrown pieces by darting and adding handbuilt elements formed by pinching coils or pressing slabs into bisque or plaster molds. The altering produces interruptions in the continuous, thrown curves, with resulting seams referencing layering that I further explore while decorating each piece.
I am interested in making complex, asymmetrical forms as a basis for dynamic surface design. The compositions feature painted, slip-trailed, and stamped plant motifs that create movement around the piece. I balance quieter, monochromatic spaces for contemplation with areas of celebratory color to create harmony. Layers of mark-making techniques and the use of glazes that move and pull colorants engage the viewer through tactile and visual complexity. These layers of ornament and textures entice the eyes and hands to move around the form, into the interior, and underneath.
Beyond operating as beautiful, aesthetic objects, my pottery has the added experiential function of utility. I want the complex, intriguing surfaces and forms to lead to intimate connections between the user and my work.
CM: What do you do to push yourself to stay engaged and develop new forms?
TS: Comfort and utility are important parameters for designing my vessels, but what interests me most about making functional objects is that there are endless possibilities for development despite the constraints. There is always something to improve upon, whether that is exploring the nuances in form and proportion or communicating concepts such as beauty or celebration.
Being a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln motivates me to be engaged, innovative, and critical of my explorations. I receive feedback from my faculty, learn techniques from peers and visiting artists, and experiment with a range of materials and equipment. Taking risks, learning from failure, and thoughtfully considering criticism are the keys to continual growth as an artist. I experiment with a batch of pieces in each making cycle, which has led to exciting new developments.
Most importantly, I use my pots and the pottery of others every day. I contemplate my experience and listen closely to what experiences others have when interacting with my work. I think about occasions for use and what could be enhanced about the interaction between people and pots, then I begin making new iterations.