Ceramics and the Human Figure

The human figure has been represented in clay throughout history and continues to evolve today. Artists are working with the figure in new ways, playing with materials and forms, and making use of...(Scroll for more.)



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Softcover | 176 Pages

Order code B107 | ISBN 978-1-57498-313-5

…new technologies to produce challenging and unconventional work, from the intact whole figure to the fragmented, hybrid and abstract. Divided by broad themes, each chapter features a variety of different expressive works from a range of international ceramic artists. This book explores the role of figurative ceramics through history and in contemporary contexts, and also reveals the methods of six key contemporary artists, using how-to images to illustrate their techniques.

Artists and themes

In the first chapter, you’ll find the work of artists whose approaches are rooted in history, including the history of art. They are inspired by archeology and anthropology, by the relationship between the human form and its historical representations, and by the history of ceramics and the use of the figure as figurine. In exploring these subjects, they apply their own individual and unique interpretations, and produce remarkable work. Each one has his or her own distinctive approach to history and the human form. Featured artists include Chris Antemann, Barnaby Barford, Christie Brown, Pattie Chalmers, Kelly Garrett Rathbone, Arthur Gonzalez, Patricia Rieger and Claire Partington.

The human condition and everyday life

Artists draw inspiration and influence from universal sources, but some are above all inspired by their own existence and everyday life. This chapter features the work of artists whose main thematic approach is to capture moments from daily life and translate them into thought-provoking works, from installation to small, intimate porcelain pieces. Their works explore, with great empathy, what exactly it means to be human. Artists included are Wesley Anderegg, Tom Bartel, Christyl Boger, Kirsten Brünjes, Edith Garcia, Claire Curneen, Thaddeus Erdahl, Jasna Sokolovic, Margaret Keelan, Claire Loder, and Kensuke Yamada.

Gender and social issues

For artists in this chapter, the investigation of gender and social issues is at the forefront of their practice. Personal experience, as well as contemporary political issues, lead them to create works that address and push our perceptions of the structure of modern society and the roles we play within it. Each artist has their own unique approach to these subjects, challenging our awareness of the world around us, and creating works that enhance our understanding of their practice and illustrate current political and social issues. Artists included in this investigation include Andrea Keys Connell, Cynthia Consentino, Russell Biles, Nuala Creed, Matt Smith, Christina West, and Justin Novak.


Hybrid figures, combining human and animal forms, are a strong and current theme in contemporary visual arts, and particularly in the field of ceramics. The artists in this chapter all push our understanding of the human form by using hybridization in their practice. They explore the relationship between human and animal by creating dynamic, representational works, as well as works with unique metaphorical elements, each in their own distinctive and affecting ways. Artists included here are Chuck Aydlett, Louise Hindsgavl, Lisa Clague, Simona Janisová, Michaelene Walsh and Jason Walker


The artists within this chapter (Bonnie Kemske, Philip Li, Michael Lucero, Hanne Mannheimer, Jeff Mongarin, Judy Moonelis, Andy Nasisse, Noel O’Connell, Xavier Toubes, Richard Slee and Wendy Walgate) focus on representing the disappearance of the human form within their works, to varying degrees. The works range from single one-off pieces to conceptual installations, as well as interactive objects and performative experiences that use the physical body and clay. Incorporating the living human body in clay is an exciting and vibrant area of figurative ceramics. These artist are pushing the conceptual possibilities of clay and changing the way we work with the human body and ceramics.

Sculpture techniques

Artists are innovators, and developing exceptional and individual ways to work with any material is an incredible feat. Clay, a material straight out of the earth, which comes in the same wet state for everyone — presents many challenges and stages that we must learn and appreciate. After years of experience with this material, artists are able to hone their skills to manipulate clay in many ways. This amazingly versatile and inexpensive material, at times kind and at others punishing, continues to thrill and challenge artists. Within this chapter you will be guided through the working methods of Barnaby Barford, Tom Bartel, Christie Brown, Lisa Clague, Arthur Gonzalez, and Kensuke Yamada — clearly some of the most innovative artists working in clay today. Each artist has allowed us an inside look into their approach to working with clay and the human figure. For all six makers, years of expertise, dedication and determination have helped them to shape this ordinary material into artworks of unprecedented beauty.

For artists, collectors, and anyone interested in these themes, Ceramics and the Human Figure is an exciting survey of the state of the figure in clay today.

About Edith Garcia

Born in Los Angeles, Edith Garcia is a ceramic sculptor and researcher. She received her BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and MFA from the California College of Arts (and Crafts). Her work has been exhibited throughout North America, Mexico and Europe, and is included in the permanent Sculpture Garden of the Archie Bray Foundation in Montana, and other public and private collections across the USA and UK. Her pieces have been featured in New Keramik, Ceramic Review, Ceramics Monthly, Time Out London, American Craft Magazine, Breaking the Mould, and Confrontational Ceramics. She has recently completed her research into the human figure in sculpture at the Royal College of Art in London. More information can be found at her website www.nenadot.com.

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