Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Featured Artist - Jarvis Ceramics
I make functional pottery. That statement by itself does not explain much, but putting it in print has carried some trepidation for me. I love making pots that people either use on a daily basis or just like to look at. Both aspects serve a function, the enrichment of people’s lives. The trepidation comes out of the internal conflict of my nature. New and old, control and spontaneity, introverted yet seeking connection with the outside, all are wrapped in my work and my working life. These issues are in my work but not in a way that is readily accessible by the viewer. It is always in my mind while I work.
I have always thought of my work in terms of a house. The aspects that make a good pot function correctly (balance, heft, beginnings, endings, and proportions) are the foundation and structure of this metaphorical house. This house has a fenced yard and in that yard is where the interesting questions are raised. That fence represents the boundaries of my ideas of function, utility, design, my place in the ceramic and arts community. The fence has been contracted, expanded, built from scratch and leapt over to explore other yards.
This all leads to my current work and the balancing act in which I am engaged. My love of functional pottery, Abstract Expressionism, Constructivism, and design are all in my mind while I am working. It is not a calculated formula; it is much more abstracted. The influences manifest themselves in subtle ways. The basis is the functional pot, but the function can be sacrificed slightly or greatly to let some of the other ideas come forward. Not everything in the studio is successful. It is the one safe place to learn from failure. What is harmed in the failure? The pot is scrapped and my thinking is slightly altered. The next pot begins and the balance is shifted. The changes are subtle but they are there.
My current work is created using the potter’s wheel, hand building, simple hump-molds, and various combinations of all of these processes. The work is fired in a salt kiln that I built on my property. The salt firing interacts with my forms and surface decorations in interesting and visually exciting ways. My surroundings also influence my work. It could be an architectural element, a diseased leaf, the mountains, bird plumage. I never know what is going to strike me. These influences do not end up in the work as a copy of the original. A certain aspect or feeling is conveyed in a simple and somewhat abstracted way.
Each firing is a little different. Each time I learn a little more. Each unloading stokes the fire to keep working and looking for that balance.