2021 Emerging Artist: Aaron Caldwell

Aaron Caldwell, Normal, Illinois

Ceramics Monthly: What excites you about the field of ceramics?

Aaron Caldwell: The range of art that I am constantly discovering excites me! I spend a lot of time tapping into historical archives of ceramic art and searching for established and emerging artists that I have yet to come across. There is so much out there; it’s rewarding to be part of this seemingly endless pool of talent and exploration. As a result, I have joined various clay communities and have made great relationships with folks that I would not have made otherwise. I love seeing ceramic artists pursue success in museum and gallery showings or make pottery and establish a following or business. I love seeing people take up ceramics as a hobby and strive to learn as much as they can. I love seeing people explore and experiment with their art. I love seeing entities like The Color Network, Clay Siblings, Queeramics, POTLA, Indigenous Clay, Ceramic Concept by Stefani Threet, and Clay Crit exist. I love seeing mutual-aid actions to support people in the community, especially people from marginalized communities. Everyone brings so much resourceful information and passion related to ceramics, which pushes me to find ways to create art that contributes to this field in a positive way—making sure whatever I create is also adding to the already endless pool of exploration with a fresh perspective and a twist on established narratives.

1 Butch Queen, 11 in. (28 cm) in height, ceramic, steel nails, fired to cone 1 in oxidation, 2020.

2 Moisturized Sheep, 16 in. (41 cm) in length, ceramic, steel nails, fired to cone 1 in oxidation, 2020.

CM: What do you see as current trends in ceramics? Where do you see yourself in the field?

AC: I think there are a million different trends happening and that will always be constant, which adds to the field’s excitement. I know my art fits into multiple trends. For example, I have in the past year discovered several queer ceramic artists making ceramic animals as a way to narrate their (potentially queer) experiences. I have begun following ceramic artists who experiment with what glaze can be on the ceramic surface or on its own. I also keep up with ceramic artists who are allowing the clay to exist more freely in its surface aesthetic and honor the qualities of clay by making more lumpy, rough, touch evident, or unbalanced art. My art falls into all of these categories and more. Trends and groupings proliferate because there is so much great artwork out there; my goal is to make sure my art responds to multiple ideas and approaches, both new and old, because that leads to even more discoveries of ceramics’ potential.

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