The audio file for this article was produced by the Ceramic Arts Network staff and not read by the author.

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

Mahala Hill: Color is a key element in not only the visual impact of my work but the conceptual intent.

The bone-china burn outs that the insects are assembled from appear, at first glance, to be pristine but have an underlying morbid sentiment. Bone china has a deep metaphorical attachment to death and loss by name and composition; bone china is made from at least 50% bone ash. The insects appear to have been drained of life and reduced to a deathly residue accentuated by the cold, pure white, semi-translucent ceramic material.

This cold, stark white is contrasted against bright, highly plastic, toxic, and rubbish-like colors. I use a range of colors to allude to different human-made waste found in the environment—particularly colors mimicking candy, showing greed and overconsumption yet simultaneously being alluring to the viewer.

1 Mutated Hive II, 6 3/4 in. (17 cm) width, bone china, porcelain, thrown, burn outs, glass, glaze, fired in oxidation to 2336°F (1280°C), forced cooled, post-firing construction, 2022. Photo: Alicia Cox. 2 Decimated Landscape, 6 1/4 in. (16 cm) width, bone china, mid-fire clay, handbuilt, burn outs, glaze, fired to 2336°F (1280°C) and 2156°F (1180°C) in oxidation, post-firing construction, 2021. Photo: Alicia Cox.

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

MH: A few trends I currently see within ceramics are an openness to experimental practices, a higher regard for the environmental impact of the individual art practice, and a maximalist approach to color.

I see my work as an intersection of these three trends, focusing on experimentation, innovation, and pushing the boundaries of what is possible with this versatile medium.

One element of my material practice that I find is key to my experimental approach is the use of glaze as a structural material rather than a surface decoration. At first glance, my works could be seen to be alien from ceramic tradition, though my experimentations are rooted in a deep knowledge of material and amplifications of usual ceramic processes.

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