Chris Alveshere, Missoula, Montana

Ceramics Monthly: What role does color play in your work?

Chris Alveshere: Color brings energy to ideas of play and joy, both in historical and contemporary use. Spanning generations of evolution, bright hues have reliably predicted nourishment, becoming intertwined with joy. Living in a modern world with rainbows of artificial colors, we feel this joy, even if a colorful object does not contain any physical nourishment. In a broad sense, color is an indicator of the richness of our surroundings; an unconscious sign of not only immediate sustenance, but also of an environment capable of sustaining us through time.

1 Speckle Tumbler, 5¼ in. (13 cm) in height, colored porcelain, colored grog, fired to cone 10 in oxidation, 2021.

When color works to construct or evoke a memory or feeling, it aids in capturing an essence of an experience and helps build a relationship with the ceramic piece. A pale yellow, teal, and orange piece can be reminiscent of both a polyester dress from photos of your grandma and the sign from a childhood ice-cream joint. These ideas of association also come from personal, societal, and cultural knowledge. The orange of a jar is pulled straight from the Nickelodeon Splat! logo, and a cup in pastel peach has been color matched to an orange sherbet Push-Up Pop remembered from middle school lunches. The allowance for these expansive associations keeps my mind wandering with so many possibilities.

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

CA: Ceramics is becoming very collaborative and technology based. When I was in graduate school, I worked with artists and instructors who were doing so many different things—things that I had no idea were a possibility, or could be an alternate route to outcomes I was interested in. After getting introduced to new kilns, new materials, new technology, and new equipment, I had seemingly endless possibilities to play with and learn from. This environment, where we could all feed off of each other, steered me to make my current work. 

2 Butter dish, 5¾ in. (15 cm) in length, colored porcelain, fired to cone 10 in oxidation, 2021.

I would say that I am right in the middle of all of this at this point in my career, and I find that very exciting. There is a constant stream of new ceramic materials and colors to work with, and I have found success working with this material science through utilitarian pots. Digitally rendering pots or components on my iPad, then being able to 3D print them for press molding and slip casting has also opened up many new opportunities in my practice. I have collaborated with fellow artists who have curiosities about what their work might look like in my colors, or how to translate my forms and colors onto a two-dimensional surface done with their techniques. There are so many times where I find inspiration through the lens of a camera filter, a distorted image, or a happy accident when working with ceramic materials. 

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