Paul Maloney, Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Ceramics Monthly: How do you come up with the forms (or surfaces and colors) that are prevalent in your work?

Paul Maloney: With an array of vessels to choose from, I most often seek out the cup as my primary pottery form. Humble in both size and intended utility, the cup as an object retains a recognition that is universal. Allowing the viewer to intimately feel engaged and disarmed by the small proportions of the object makes it easier to then begin diving into the story told within the microcosm constructed by the maker. With minimal, self-assigned parameters, I quickly decide whether to preserve or eliminate utility. From there it is a dance, as I begin to willingly embrace the unknown and seek a narrative within the cup that can go many places. Using glaze as color and texture, creating movement with marks, and building identity for each piece develops progressively through multiple firings, adding more complexity and layers until each piece feels comfortable in its own skin.

1 Paul Maloney’s Tall Bar, 8 in. (20 cm) in height, porcelain, underglaze, glaze, multiple firings in oxidation, 2019.

CM: What do you see as the current trends in ceramics and where do you see yourself in that field?

PM: I’ve always been amazed by the wide variety of work that the ceramics field has to offer. Over the last ten years, I’ve traveled and worked throughout various institutions with a slew of fabulous makers. Whether the artist focuses on utilitarian pottery, clay painting, sculpture, or performance art, the entire spectrum has expanded during my short time working with this material. Trends emerge, disappear, and come back, but I have encountered a constant that remains—employing the clay material as a mode of expression. In the future I hope that my continued efforts support and contribute to the avenue of cup makers, both for utilitarian and non-utilitarian purposes. I make many things, and value them all greatly, but none I cherish more than the killer cup—for its multitudinous ability to complement and camouflage how we feel in both public and intimate moments.

2 Paul Maloney’s Bananaramma, 6½ in. (17 cm) in width, porcelain, underglaze, glaze, multiple firings in oxidation, 2019.

Topics: Ceramic Artists