2021 Emerging Artist: Brent Pafford

Brent Pafford, Eugene, Oregon 

Ceramics Monthly: What techniques do you use to make your work and why?

Brent Pafford: POPJCT/päpjekt/ (noun): An object questioning the compulsion to objectify and idolize the self and its distinctiveness.

From disparate materials, contrary textures, and incompatible forms, POPJCTs are intended to manifest harmonious but revealing interactions. These interactions are dependent on a variety of techniques, procedures, and materials. The creation of a POPJCT requires various methods and materials, all of which are time sensitive and permanent—irreversible. I choose to work in the parameters of permanence, harnessing anxiety, unknowing, and perpetual resilience to reveal that unexpected interactions awaken inquiry. Ceramic components are wheel-thrown and altered or handbuilt mid-range porcelain, often stained, and fired to cone 6 in an oxidation environment. Ceramic objects are then paired with accoutrement dependent on the elements and principles of design—color, texture, etc.—with attention placed in the interactive aspects of the works. Handles become stones stuck to pieces with bubblegum-pink epoxy; where a maker’s mark once was is where glitter flows; glass, disco-esque knobs refract rainbows throughout spaces. POPJCTs alter our perception of utility, embrace function, and distort the space surrounding the object. Textile assemblage components are created and selected to further haptic experiences.

1 POPJCT Ruff Cut, 5 in. (13 cm) in width, wheel-thrown stained porcelain, glaze, fired to cone 6 in oxidation, epoxy, glitter, resin, Mason stain, pyrite, 2020.

CM: What do you think the role of a maker is within our current culture and how do you think you contribute to it?

BP: The role of makers in contemporary society is instrumental in retaining our voice, ensuring that we will be present in the historical canon for future makers, thinkers, and educators. Queer, BIPOC, and other underrepresented makers in particular must be represented while we work as a contemporary society to perpetuate into the future what was overlooked in the past. As makers, we tell stories and reveal our own truths though materials. As ceramic artists, we choose clay for many reasons—one being an interest in making a haptic experience for folks who encounter the work, engage with it, and through that learn something about themselves and us, as creators. POPJCTs reflect my development as an artist. They epitomize a journey of exploration that began with abstract sculpture, transitioned to utilitarian forms, and has arrived at a body of work that invokes the everyday—the functional, the found, the ordinary—only to subvert it through individualization, through queering. From my practice in utilitarian ceramics, I came to recognize that everyday objects are intimate catalysts for thought and conversation; they are vessels of experience and reference, and their tangible usability enables them to be shared through time.

2 POPJCT Party Assemblage, 9 in. (23 cm) in height, wheel-thrown stained porcelain, glaze, fired to cone 6 in oxidation, nichrome wire, epoxy, glitter, resin, Mason stain, textiles, found objects, 2020.

To learn more, visit www.brentpafford.com.

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