Julie Malen, Kansas City Art Institute: CM 2009 Undergraduate Showcase

Bull in a China Shop, 75 in. (1.9 m) in length, stoneware, commercial dishes, ceramic decals, found objects, 2009.

My interest in ceramics draws me to analyze the life and character of objects-the idea that possessions can retain the story of human existence. As a result, the scenarios I create in clay combine objects, plants, and animals that tell stories metaphorically. The viewer can derive meaning by asking first what the objects represent, and second what the relationship is between them.

Clay is an amorphous and process oriented material that I use to create an impression, not a duplication of reality. The forms of my objects and creatures are based on realism, but I approach the final surfaces loosely to make them more painterly and symbolic. I become lost in creating gestural marks with my fingers and nails. Animal hair becomes as ornamental as the architectural forms that accompany them.

I am also deeply inspired by the still life tradition that emerged as its own genre of painting in the 17th century in the Netherlands. The Dutch Masters painted objects from everyday life to deliver an allegorical and moralizing message. Often, I will reference imagery from that era to support the idea that the objects I make are meant to function symbolically. My research into those paintings also becomes a trajectory for themes I find parallels to in modern society.

Instructors: Cary Esser, Professor; George Timock, Professor; Paul Donnelly, Special Instructor

This was excerpted from Ceramics Monthly magazine’s “2009 Undergraduate Showcase” feature, which appeared in the September 2009 issue. To get great content like this delivered right to your door, subscribe today!



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