The Mapping of American History: "Points of Origin" at C24 Gallery


C24 Gallery - Chelsea, NYC 
560 W 24th Street 
New York, NY 10011

To the left, right, horizon, and periphery, fifty conical ceramic masks of various proportions are plotted throughout the gallery, echoing an ominous air. The staccato-sharp masks, coated with buzzing blues and adorned with pointillist protrusions, are animated with disconcerting expressions, interlocking and confronting viewers with their cryptic and unwavering gaze. Taking a reticent step closer, the contours of masonite prayer fans and plotter ink drawings featuring symbolic and figurative imagery emerge—anchoring the abstracted hoods with narratives personal to the artist, Tammie Rubin.

Originating from multiple axes to create a nexus of works revolving around the common theme of faith, Points of Origin, C24 Gallery’s latest exhibition, serves as a documentation of Rubin’s extensive historical research, a celebration of her master craftsmanship, and an intimate glimpse into her lineage. Although the ensemble of pieces possess contrasting formal qualities and viewpoints, David Terry, the director of the gallery and curator of the show, explains:

“When you think of the point of origin, and where you come from, that could be from many places. [Rubin’s] work and this body of work come from many different areas of her life, African American culture, American culture, women in her family, and the threads that make up the fabric of the country.


So when she was bringing [the pieces] out, I got really excited because they’re all from the same context, but she's exploring different media. And I love it when artists carry the same theme through but realize and recognize it through different forms, communicating at many levels to many different people.”

Creating a metaphysical altar and paying homage to her family and the Black American experience, the varying vantages harmonize in spiritual unison with their shared explorations of The Great Migration and Reconstruction—subjects Rubin hadn’t considered in her practice until she migrated to Texas in 2015. She elaborates:

“It was specifically about this idea of moving to Austin. You know, I moved here for a job, and that's when I started to think about my parents in a historical context. I'm taking from my family stories and then expanding that into larger research about other Black families that have had this experience and whose stories haven't been told. I’m reflecting on conversations about Black Americans having their history not being represented in our world.”

In fact, according to author Isabel Wilkerson, The Great Migration—a period from roughly 1910 to 1970 when six million African Americans mass relocated from the Jim Crow South to the North—was “the greatest and biggest underreported story in the 20th century.”

Always & Forever (forever, ever) No.14 - Photo by Daniel Krieger, courtesy of C24 Gallery

As the descendant of parents who migrated and met in Chicago (mother from southern Mississippi and father from Memphis, Tennessee), Rubin unveils their neglected history and memorializes her family and Black families alike in an archival collection.

Always & Forever (forever, ever), Drift No.2 - Photo by Daniel Krieger, courtesy of C24 Gallery
Always & Forever (forever, ever), No.24 - Photo by Daniel Krieger, courtesy of C24 Gallery

A clan of three ceramic hoods with pigmented Delphinium and Vivid Blue skin and scars of Radiant Red stand on a floating shelf by the entrance. The central figure, with a leveled head resembling a motherboard, represents a map of Chicago. Similar patterns of cities and migratory paths are also present on other masks in her Always & Forever (forever, ever) series.

On the right of the No.17 tribe, a funnel-shaped form with sgraffito rain strokes, dots, and beaded relief creates a sensational feast for the visual cortex. Although the mask isn’t directly portraying routes, the dynamic movement metaphorically alludes to migration as the pulsating red synchronizes and dances with the blue.

The particularly pointy, slanted hood has a more regal personality. Embellished with an obscured badge, a symbol originating from the Medieval Period, the hood contemplates power, principally within the context of law enforcement. Laced with Medieval and magical influences, the masks may appear solely, or most familiarly, to reference the Ku Klux Klan, but they also attribute to Knight and Shaman helmets, dunce caps, and wizards.

Rubin builds sizable, totemic red stoneware forms as seen in her Unknown Ritual Mask series and practices slip-casting smaller everyday objects—cones, funnels, food containers, and vintage lighting—reconfiguring them into non-functional headdresses. After making a mold, she speedily scratches, carves, punctures, and pipes beading onto the surface as they quickly dry.

“I think of all the mark-making that is repetitious as black bodies moving through space and time, so I’m physically marking that onto the surface of the ceramic forms. […] I’m interested in how to suffuse the form with another point of visual communication through the surface itself.”

Rubin then paints the pigmented porcelains, with sumptuous lines, shapes, and stencils. Some cones resemble Abstract Expressionist and contemporary paintings, others African beadwork, Aboriginal mark-making, and ornamental designs.

The exhibition is filled with a profusion of symbols. The plotter ink drawings portray hagiographical portraits of her grandmother, mother, and aunts all adorned with turnip, mustard, and collard green halos—food staples prominent in Rubin's upbringing. Masonite fans, framing the ceramic cones, are symbolic references to the prayer fans that were predominantly present in black churches and funeral homes to keep the congregation cool. Marked with text, figures, floral, dotted, and migratory patterns, the iconographical fans provide a window into the past and become profound relics that take on resonance and emanate the power of faith.

Rubin’s cerebral and complex perspectives are captured in Points of Origin, a transcendental exhibition visually and conceptually mapping and highlighting one of the most significant and overlooked demographic shifting events that will forever change the structure, history, and future of the United States of America. She emphasizes, “Black history is not separate from American history. These are Americans.” The diverse array of works converges into a singular point of origin, commemorating and celebrating the contributions and stories of Rubin and Black families who’ve built the foundation of the country.

“There is no American culture without black American culture. You can't say, well, they did it. We did it. We did it together.”

- Jacob Lawrence


Visit C24 Gallery at 560 W 24th Street New York, NY 10011, or explore and learn more about the exhibition "Points of Origin" and Tammie Rubin's works online at C24 GALLERY

Exploring Identity and Cultural Dichotomies with Brendan Lee Satish Tang at C24 Gallery


C24 Gallery - Chelsea, NYC 560 W 24th Street 
New York, NY 10011

On a suspiciously quiet Thursday evening near the Chelsea piers, the streets are bathed in fading sunlight, the day prematurely surrendering to dusk. The crowd of gallery goers looking for visual stimulation, networking prospects, or free drinks has yet to proliferate, and amidst this quietude stands C24 Gallery, a beacon with its luminous lights casting an alluring glow through the window and onto the sidewalk. A veritable unopened treasure chest awaiting discovery.

The gallery is a reliquarium, a sacred box showcasing Ming Dynasty vessels that have been penetrated by and entwined with anime-inspired robots and gilded ormolu.

Adorning the walls and encircling these mutated cyborg vessels, are expansive, bulletproof stretched kevlar sculptural paintings, stained by steel rust and varnished with a luminous patina.

Albeit stylistically distinct—abstract vs. representational and muted color palette vs. an explosion of hues—the contrasting aesthetics of Brendan Lee Satish Tang and Coby Kennedy’s works meld beautifully in the space. Non-competing and complimenting, the industrial features and the matte and glossy surfaces of both artists’ work harmonize to present Cultured, a duo show on view until December 23rd.

installation view of "Cultured" - photo courtesy: C24 Gallery

C24 Gallery describes Cultured as “refined, cultivated, nurtured, artificially grown, or synthesized.” When asked about the exhibition’s title in connection to the works on display, David Terry, the director and curator of the gallery, explains how the artists’ underlying processes align and how the concept and content behind them are parallel: 

“The two artists are deep within their analysis of their own culture, personally and within a historical context with Brendan being inspired by the Ming Dynasty and Coby exploring the African-American diaspora.” 

With their post-colonial explorations of race, identity, and heritage, Cultured showcases the multiplex manifestations and individualistic interpretations of socio-cultural issues experienced collectively.

Manga Ormolu

Manga Ormolu 4.0-aa, 2023, Ceramic and mixed media, 22 x 10 x 10.5 in. (55.9 x 25.4 x 26.7 cm) - photo courtesy: C24 Gallery

For over two decades, Brendan Lee Satish Tang (he/they) has been working on their series entitled Manga Ormolu—a fusion of distinctly Asian aesthetics accented with European filigree. 

A cobalt blue landscape, dragons, fish, florals, and warriors are painted with precision on the ‘porcelain’ facades—imagery referencing the style of vessels from the 18th-century Ming Dynasty, a prosperous period of economic and cultural expansion in China. 

Agglutinated and burgeoning onto the melting Chinese relics are Japanese robotic features that have spored and taken control over the vessels—a sci-fi parasite. The glossy cyborg mutants are inspired by Tang’s longstanding love of Mecha: “a genre of Japanese manga and anime that heavily features or focuses on mechanical innovation. Robots, cyborgs, androids, and space stations, for example, all fall under the wide umbrella of mecha; however, robots are usually the primary focus” (NYPL).

Tang’s infatuation with science fiction and utopia began as a child, which coincides with when mecha grew to peak popularity in the West. They were engrossed in playing video games, reading manga, and watching shows like Transformers, Astro Boy, and Star Trek.

Manga Ormolu 5.0-aa, 2023, Ceramic and mixed media, 23 x 12 x 13 in. (58.4 x 30.5 x 33 cm) - photo courtesy: C24 Gallery

Unsurprisingly, those formal and conceptual themes became parents to their visual language and permeated into their practice—bringing the fictional robots into the physical realm.

Although the Chinese vessels and Japanese cyborgs come from the same continent, that is their only shared variable. The traditional vessels are monochrome, soft, fleshy, and matte, with a crackled glaze, and delicate brushstrokes with value. Meanwhile, the futuristic, graphic robotic parts are hard and manufactured, glossy, and engineered.

The contrasting evocations of the past colliding with the future evoke nostalgia and hope—or detachment and fear—depending on the person and how they view the flourishing omnipresence of technology.

Concerning the geopolitical relationship between Japan and China, Tang explains how this wasn’t initially a forefront concern, however, they became aware of the contentious history between the two nations when they had an exhibition in Richmond, Vancouver.

“It was really interesting to have that experience because there were a lot of people from mainland China that live in Richmond and when they came to the show, they saw [the Manga Ormolu pieces] as an affront and it was like almost an insult onto the historical vessels and that sort of thing. As, you know, we always think of a colonial agenda within a Western context, but it was a colonial agenda within a Japanese context as well. And so there was a weird form of telephone game where it's like I'm unpacking my 'Asianess' through the West unpacking 'Asianess'.”

As a Chinese, South Asian Canadian who was born in Dublin, Ireland, Brendan has always lived within a Western landscape and felt disconnected from their heritage as they assimilated, negotiated, and suppressed their “Asianess” to steer Western spaces. When they discovered the ormolu—the 18th-century French and German aristocratic practice of embellishing pre-existing, often foreign or “exotic” objects—they saw themselves reflected in the gilded Chinese porcelain.

Manga Ormolu 4.0-bb, 2023, Ceramic and mixed media, 23 x 10 x 11 in. (58.4 x 25.4 x 27.9 cm) - photo courtesy: C24 Gallery
Manga Ormolu 2.0-t, 2023, Ceramic and mixed media, 20 x 14 x 13in. (50.8 x 35.6 x 33cm) - photo courtesy: C24 Gallery

“I was excited by what I was seeing kind of in a way of seeing myself in the work where I am very much an Asian identity but I have all this Western filigree all over me. I am the Ming Vessel with the gold filigree and the strange architecture and stuff like that. But then I started seeing things where they started making these elaborate pieces with Buddha and put all these things that have no business being together. I felt a bit revolted, but also equally fascinated.”

Unearthing these appropriated, fetishized, and Westernized Asian relics became the genesis of their Manga Ormolu series and an outlet to explore their identity. Akin to Asian fusion restaurants, where spices and ingredients are modified to become more accessible and digestible, the cyborg vessels appear Asian whilst garnished with European flavors to suit the Western taste. 

These sculptures are a self-portrait of Brendan, they humorously scrutinize and satirize the Western lens and cultural appropriation, whilst simultaneously confronting their self-inflicted discrimination. No longer, are they molding and denigrating themselves to accommodate and please others, however, their people-pleasing tendencies have sublimated and materialized in their craftsmanship.

work in progress of Manga Ormolu 4.0-bb, 2023 - photo courtesy: Brendan Lee Satish Tang

“I am a chronic pleaser,” they state whilst chuckling, “I go to ridiculous lengths to make [my work] seem so seamless.” 

Tang is unquestionably skilled and perfectionistic, with a meticulously torturous yet satisfying process. It begins with sketching, measuring, and drafting the sculpture’s foundation. Subsequently, they throw a vase, base, and ‘shot glasses’ (trimmed and attached to the sides of the form) on the wheel, then proceed to build the composition by extruding, slab building, hand-building, manipulating, pinching, and sanding. Tang then fastidiously hand-paints traditional Chinese imagery and dresses the piece by airbrushing, glazing, and applying gold luster treatments.

The laboriously constructed sculptures and impeccably glazed surfaces imitate porcelain and metal, despite being made from low-fire earthenware. As an exercise in trompe-l’œil, Tang teases the viewer into thinking the piece is constructed from separate parts using varying materials. They further confuse the viewer by grounding the form on a wooden plinth and adding rubber gaskets, screws, and bolts—some of which are real and others ceramic.

Manga Ormolu 2.0-s, work in progress - photo courtesy: Brendan Lee Satish Tang
Manga Ormolu 2.0-s, 2022, Ceramic and mixed media, 40 x 19 x 15 in. (101.6 x 48.3 x 38.1 cm) - photo courtesy: C24 Gallery

The result is an intriguing, animated mutation that illustrates Tang's expert understanding and decades-long experience in playing with trompe-l’œil and the interrelationship between reality and fantasy.

Traditional and futuristic, Western and Asian, industrial and fine art, and imperial elitism and commercialism—Tang gifts us with sculptures filled with juxtapositions, complexities, and perplexities. The cyborg vessels invite you to question your heritage (within your ethnic and cultural tribes), your identity (within society), and your existence (in the Digital Age).

Study 8, 2018, Ceramic and mixed media, 6 x 11 x 5.5 in. (15.2 x 27.9 x 14 cm) - photo courtesy: C24 Gallery

Visit C24 Gallery at 560 W 24th Street  New York, NY 10011, or explore and learn more about the exhibition "Cultured" and Brendan Lee Satish Tang's works online at C24 GALLERY

Watch C24 Gallery's artist talk  for their exhibition in 2021 entitled "Earthen Delights" with artists Brendan Lee Satish, Hinrich Kröger, and Steven Montgomery - moderated by MoCA/NY PResident Judith Schwartz. 

A Beloved Collection - Kathy Butterly at James Cohan Gallery

James Cohan Gallery - Tribeca, NYC 
48 WALKER ST
NEW YORK, NY 10013

photo courtesy: James Cohan Gallery

For over three decades, New York-based ceramic artist Kathy Butterly has ventured into the realms of color, form, and the intricacies of ceramics. Her relentless dedication and mastery of clay have solidified her position as a prominent and revered figure in contemporary ceramics. Butterly's remarkable body of work comprises small-scale sculptures characterized by meticulous and whimsical details, evocative colors and compositions, and unparalleled technical expertise.
Recently, Butterly showcased her tenacious commitment to ceramics in an enthralling mini-retrospective titled A Beloved Collection presented by the James Cohan Gallery. Concurrently with the exhibition at their Tribeca location, the gallery also exhibited Butterly’s latest sculptures at the ADAA: The Art Show. Although the exhibitions have concluded, selected works remain available for purchase. View MoCA/NY's President, Judy Schwartz on-site video interview with Kathy Butterly, Elizabeth Harvey Levine, and collector David Kirschenbaum.

A BELOVED COLLECTION, 1994-2022

Works from the private collection of Elizabeth Harvey Levine

Upon entering the viewing room at James Cohan Gallery, visitors are immediately enveloped by a vibrant ensemble of sculptures spanning from 1994 to 2022, offering a comprehensive voyage through the evolution of Kathy Butterly's artistic vision. The thirty-six petite sculptures arranged chronologically, are sourced from the private collection of Elizabeth Harvey Levine, an ardent and longtime patron of Butterly’s work.

The space unfolds with delicately adorned and opulently ornate sculptures positioned on the left side of the gallery—the genesis—and crescendos to Butterly's most recent lively and gestural creations. Despite their demure scale—excluding two exceptions—each sculpture exudes a grand energy, brimming with vitality, distinct personalities, and animated expressions.

“It is a beloved collection because each piece in this magical collection is such a magical gem. They’re infused with her sense of humor, they all have sensuous body folds, they’re meticulously executed, and the details are beyond what people are willing to explore in ceramics.” - Elizabeth Harvey Levine

Humor imbues the exhibition not only in the cheeky and amusing configurations of the sculptures but also in their titles, setting a tone and offering a glimpse into Butterly's intentions and interpretations. For instance, a lemon-yellow glazed figure adorned with oval green forms on its lip and hip emanates refined elegance with polished gold accents, yet it comically bears the title "Nancy Beans," adding a playful twist.

Associating these titles with the sculptures is almost as enjoyable as experiencing the pieces themselves, inviting speculation, contemplation, and insight into Butterly’s mind.

This collection, akin to a personal diary, exemplifies Butterly's artistic innovations in composition, color palette, and treatment of glaze while documenting significant and pivotal periods in both her personal and creative life.

Pointing to a piece named "Knititation," Butterly reminisces, “I was pregnant. [I remember] just the waiting and the knitting." She elaborates further on the show, "It’s my diary, my diary is on display. I knew exactly what I was thinking and what I was doing and each one is very specific to a time period of my life.”

"Knititation" beautifully encapsulates Butterly's earlier works—the lyrical pastel and shocking neon color palette, skin-like folds, intricate line marks, and fine carvings, complemented by a whimsical and playful "pedestal." It vividly showcases her technique of painting with and on clay.

Her painterly treatment of clay can be attributed to her early studies as a painter when she was drawn to ceramics but was reluctant to fully accept the medium as she viewed ceramics as functional pottery ware. It wasn’t until she met Viola Frey, an artist known for her non-functional, figurative, animated ceramic sculptures and painterly expressions, that she embraced ceramics.

Intuitively created, Butterly starts with a ready-made cast, molding it into a functional vessel before sculpting, folding, denting, and smoothing the clay. Subsequently, she applies glazes and subjects the disfigured vessel to multiple firings, often reaching up to 20 to 30 times. The layers of clay and glazes illustrate Butterly’s devotion and profound connection with each piece imbuing them with a unique history and seducing you into a portal awaiting exploration.

Tiny pearlescent beadings, crackling and crystalline glaze textures, sharp and fluid surfaces—the porcelain and earthenware amorphous sculptures gift us with a splendid visual orgasm. They not only serve as pages from Butterly's diary but also as testaments to her exceptional technical skill and artistic aspirations.

With their diminutive scale, the sculptures beckon viewers to draw closer, inviting a magnified appreciation of every minute and intricately carved detail, cultivating an intimate relationship with each piece. They entice, hypnotize, surprise, and inspire a desire to explore and decode their narratives and language—a journey into their portal, into their distinctive universe.

“[Butterly’s sculptures] are irresistible,” Elizabeth Harvey Levine states, “and Kathy, herself, is the most genuine person I know and her pieces are straightforward and honest, complex, fused with humor and that is what Kathy is. They are just an embodiment of her.”


Visit James Cohan Gallery at 48 WALKER ST NEW YORK, NY 10013, or explore and learn more about A Beloved Collection and Kathy Butterly online: James Cohan Gallery

Organic Reflection: Steen Ipsen at HB381 Gallery

HB381 Gallery - Tribeca, NYC 
381 Broadway, New York, NY 10013

HB381 Gallery window
Lighting up the corner of Broadway and White Street sits HB381, Hostler Burrow’s contemporary art gallery in Tribeca, exhibiting recent works of Copenhagen-based ceramic artist Steen Ipsen. Ipsen's immaculately crafted, vibrant, and dynamic biomorphic sculptures draw the attention of passersby, captivating onlookers through the gallery's glass windows.
 Entitled Organic Reflection, the exhibition, running until December 22, 2023, marks Ipsen’s debut solo exhibition in the United States, albeit not his first collaboration with the gallery.
In 2021, Hostler Burrows collaborated with Copenhagen Ceramics—an exhibition platform showcasing contemporary Danish ceramics. Ipsen, along with co-founders of Copenhagen Ceramics Martin Bodilsen Kaldahl and Bente Skjoettgaard, co-curated and participated in Bend, Bubble and Shine: Copenhagen Ceramics, showcasing nine contemporary Danish artists. Subsequently, Hostler Burrows began representing Ipsen and Kaldahl, both of whom held solo exhibitions at the gallery this year.

Organic Reflection

On one side of the gallery, nine pieces from Ipsen’s Ellipses and Tied Up series are presented equidistantly on plinths. Upon first viewing, the earthenware, monochromatically glazed pieces exhibit a shared polished and bulbous sensibility, eliciting admiration for their expert craftsmanship and vibrant colors. However, a closer examination reveals the individuality of each sculpture. The blobjects (a word that defines curvilinear flowing shapes - a portmanteau of “blob” and “object” - as described in Garth Johnson’s catalog essay) adorned with PVC or leather strands, offer distinctive characteristics and expressions–provoking an idiosyncratic experience. 

Organic Reflection - photo courtesy: HB381 Gallery

For instance, Ellipse 8 and Ellipse 13 resemble a croquembouche, enticing and delectable, while Ellipse 12 and Ellipse 15 evoke the appearance of konpeito candies. In contrast, Ellipse 9, Ellipse 11, and Tied Up 3 exude a biological, cellular essence. Despite the association with smooth, glazed surfaces that evoke confectionery, Ipsen draws inspiration from growth principles like crystallization and cell division. Notably, Ipsen’s titles–Ellipse, Balls, Bubbles, and Tied Up, emphasize the physical form over the conceptual context, demanding subjective interpretations while highlighting the significance of design. 

Ellipse 8 - Glazed earthenware, PVC, photo courtesy: HB381 Gallery
Ellipse 13 - Glazed earthenware, PVC, photo courtesy: HB381 Gallery
Ellipse 12 - Glazed earthenware, PVC, photo courtesy: HB381 Gallery
Ellipse 15 - Glazed earthenware, PVC, photo courtesy: HB381 Gallery
Ellipse 11 - Glazed earthenware, PVC, photo courtesy: HB381 Gallery
Tied Up 3 - Glazed earthenware, leather , photo courtesy: HB381 Gallery

Steen Ipsen has devoted decades to studying and mastering ceramics, exploring myriad shapes and compositions, leading to recognition by the Danish Arts Foundation as "one of the most gifted ceramic artists in Denmark."

His expertise shines through in meticulously crafted forms devoid of flaws or imperfections. Ipsen casts and sculpts ellipses, balls, and spikes from earthenware clay, refining their surfaces through sanding and polishing. He then applies layers and layers of glaze–pouring, spraying, and painting until perfection is achieved.

Contrary to the appearance of the sculptures being held together by the PVC or leather threads, the clay spheres are sliced to the most accurate angle to join seamlessly together. The addition of PVC comes last as he ties the strands, creating an abstract, spatial net resulting in a vibrato of tension, stability, complexity, and simplicity.

Steen Ipsen in studio - photo courtesy: HB381 Gallery

Juxtaposing and situated across the Ellipses and Tied Up sculptures are six works from Ipsen’s Black Organic Movement series. The animated forms, liquid in demeanor, defy gravity with their undulating, concaving curves—suspenseful and seductive. The stark purity of the glazed surface mirrors the surrounding environment and forces the viewer into a psychological confrontation as they discern reflections of themselves. The inkblot-like sculptures are akin to a Rorschach test.

Black Organic Movement at HB381 Gallery

Intuitively sculpted, Ipsen coils from one side of the piece to the other, a divergent approach from his other series which are precisely methodological. Still, Ipsen’s unwavering commitment to flawless surfaces, reflective glazes, and masterful design is a consistent throughline in his impressive oeuvre. 

Black Organic Movement 4, 2023, glazed earthenware, photo courtesy: HB381 Gallery
Black Organic Movement 3, 2023, glazed earthenware, photo courtesy: HB381 Gallery

Organic Reflection encapsulates both the physical and psychological essence of reflection. The glazed, reflective blobjects serve as a distorted yet captivating mirror, inviting viewers to delve into a hypnotic and visually opulent world. Each piece not only mirrors its physical environment but also prompts a reflective introspective experience.

The exhibition stands as a testament to Ipsen's artistic odyssey. The Ellipses and Organic Movements series signifies a notable evolutionary shift from his earlier geometric explorations in clay (Moduls (1996) and Spikes (2005)). These newer series represent the pinnacle and embodiment of Ipsen’s decades-long commitment to mastering the art of ceramics and design, showcasing his enduring dedication and growth throughout his career.

Steen Ipsen in his studio - photo courtesy: HB381 Gallery

Visit HB381 Gallery at 381 Broadway, New York, NY 10013, or explore and learn more about Organic Reflection online: hb381gallery.com


Portals to Mouros - Tracing Identity with Isaac Scott at Lucy Lacoste Gallery

Isaac Scott’s political mixed-media sculptures are on display at the Lucy Lacoste Gallery in Concord, Massachusetts from September 16 to October 14, 2023. Scott is a Philadelphia-based artist, curator, and photographer, whose provocative ceramics explore the lineage of the Slave Trade, the history of social, cultural, and racial exploitation, and how contemporary people and land carry the wounds of past generations' traumas.
In 2020, during the global pandemic, Scott, working primarily with clay, lost access to his studio and sublimated his artistic energy to taking photographs of his neighborhood in North Philly and the protests and marches on the streets following the death of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police. 
In 2022, Scott traveled throughout Portugal during an artist residency where he (re)discovered that Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, was the city where the Slave Trade originated. Mouros, the title of his first solo exhibition, responds to his research and reflections on the Slave Trade—manifesting into six powerful stoneware and inkjet-printed Dibond pieces.

“Every now and then one comes across a new artist whose work excites and is worthy of the highest accolades. Realizing the content and the art in this completely new series, I knew I had to do everything possible to bring it to light in the fullest possible way.” - Lucy Lacoste

ILSY JEON (IJ): The inspiration behind your exhibition, Mouros, is rooted in your discovery and research on the Slave Trade and its origins in Lisbon, Portugal dating back to 1455. Can you describe the pivotal moment when you became aware of this history? Also, can you explain why you titled this show Mouros?

ISAAC SCOTT: When I arrived in Lisbon I was drawn to the older parts of the city.  I immediately wanted to know more about the city's history. I learned about the African Lisbon Tour through my friends’ parents. The tour is organized and led by Naky Gaglo. That’s where I first learned about and experienced some of the places that I referenced in the exhibition. 

The show title “Mouros”, translates to Moors in English. The title comes from a few different references. The first was the Moors who occupied the Iberian Peninsula from 711 to ~1249. Next, the people taken from the coast of West Africa who were called “Mouros” by the Portuguese. Lastly, the ancient myth of the Mouros from northern Iberia. This myth sometimes describes Mouros as Giant beings who collected treasures and lived underground.

I see my Mouros series as beings who dwell in different places that I visited on my travels through the country and they collect the stories of Africans who came through those locations throughout history.

Photograph by Isaac Scott
Photograph by Isaac Scott
IJ: The tragic death of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, which you comprehensively documented, occurred just two years before your awareness of the Slave Trade in Portugal. 

Considering the racial tensions in the US, how did it feel to conduct research in a foreign country and recognize that racism is pervasive in all lands? How has your research evolved to highlight your understanding and relationship to your ancestry, identity, and art practice?

ISAAC SCOTT: I’ve known for a long time that racism is pervasive throughout the world. We have seen Western colonization and the damage it has done throughout history. I think I had learned at some point that Portugal was the country to start the slave trade but it was never something that I thought much about until I was actually there. 

One thing that stuck with me during my trip to Portugal, was how comfortable I felt. Here in the US, I feel like my identity, my race is something that is always looming over me. I never felt that way in Portugal. But when I talked to Afro-Portuguese about this, they explained to me how they face many of the same problems around race that we face in the US. And that the reason I felt so comfortable and welcomed in Portugal was because people recognized I was a tourist and they wanted my money. This hadn’t occurred to me because I’m used to people following me around stores because they assume I will steal something.

This made me think more about power dynamics here in the US around race. We in the black community are constantly reminded how we are not valued or appreciated for our essential contributions to the founding, growth, and success of this country. 

Through my research, I found how the catholic church played such a major role in the start of the slave trade. It made me think of the parallels between protestant Christians in the US and how they used scripture to justify their use and dehumanization of African slaves in a “free” country. I also thought of how in both Portugal and the US, Africans used the church to free themselves and fight for their rights as human beings. 

There is a bitter irony to the fact that the Africans who had their freedom, religion, and culture stripped from them by Christians, behave more like Christ than the Christians themselves.

I think about my own relationship with spirituality a lot. I grew up in a very religious household and was even confirmed Catholic. I’m not religious anymore but I do still feel a longing for some kind of spiritual practice that makes sense to me. 

Photograph by Isaac Scott
Photograph by Isaac Scott
IJ: Your sculptures evidence extensive research about the Slave Trade and the history of the Moors during the Middle Ages. The photos you’ve taken are sites in Portugal that symbolically refer to the history of this region and the ceramic portraits beautifully respond to these images. Can you elaborate on your experience walking around Lisbon, conducting research, documenting, and taking photographs? How did you come to the decision to select the six photographs that are on display in relation to these particular busts?

ISAAC SCOTT: I was immediately in awe of the city. The ornate architecture, tiled walls and streets, the massive monuments, and marble sculptures all made for great photos. At first, I wasn’t sure how I would use the photos. I always have my camera on me when I travel, so taking photos as part of a sculpture or installation wasn’t my first intent. As I came up with my ideas around the Mouros heads and the narrative behind them, I felt that I should use the images to give more context to these locations. I felt the images and stories I made the work around were the ones I felt the most connection to personally.

Photograph by Isaac Scott
Photograph by Isaac Scott
Photograph by Isaac Scott
IJ: The ceramic heads depicting Black faces each have a distinct personality and characteristics that respond to their corresponding images. What was your approach and process for creating these ceramic portraits?  Who are these people that you are paying homage to?

ISAAC SCOTT: I wanted to make portraits that fit the mood and energy of the stories connected to each piece. Some of them are more specific than others. The “Igreja de São Domingos“ piece has an expression of the figure singing. This comes from my connection of Black Spirituality to music as well as the hymns and chants that take place in a catholic mass. The expression of the “Mouro do Graffiti” speaks to the bravado and confidence in oneself that is celebrated in Hip Hop Culture. 

I don’t see these sculptures as depicting anyone in particular.

IJ: Following up on the previous question: how has your research about the African diaspora and Hip-Hop culture influenced the formal and conceptual aspects and features of these ceramic forms?

ISAAC SCOTT: Something that I have focused on capturing in my work is the idea of resiliency. In both the Mouros series and past work around Philly, I have often used these motifs of decaying architecture paired with reference to monuments and vibrant colors.

I enjoy the duality in a form that is both broken yet exhibits strength and beauty. 

In Hip Hop culture there is the idea of “making something from nothing” or creating value out of the scraps we find around us. I think the work I make is often a response to my own questions about having hope for the future. I see what many of my ancestors had to go through and how we got here. I think those stories give me hope for our generation to figure out the challenges in front of us.

Igreja de São Domingos, 2023 - Glazed Stoneware, 18.5h x 10.25w x 10.75d in, Archival Pigment Inkjet Print mounted on Dibond, 36 x 36 in
Mouro do Graffiti, 2023 - Glazed Stoneware with Gold Luster, 17.75h x 9.25w x 9.75d in, Archival Pigment Inkjet Print mounted on Dibond, 36 x 36 in

IJ: The way you’ve combined ceramic and photography is refreshing and avant-garde and is the perfect amalgamation of the two mediums you use to express your creativity. How did you come to the decision to integrate both mediums in this series and how did losing your studio during the pandemic act as an impetus to take up photography? Since returning to ceramics, after a few years of hiatus, how has your relationship with clay evolved?

ISAAC SCOTT: The photos in this series were important to add context to the heads I was making. They act as portals that bring the viewer to the exact place where these Mouros dwell. They also create halos around the heads, further pointing to the theme of Christian symbolism that runs through the show. 

When I lost access to my studio during the pandemic I was taking a photography class so I ended up turning to photography as my source for creativity. It really got me out of the house and kept me sane during that time. Then when the BLM protests started I really got more serious about documenting what was happening around me.  

Coming back to clay, I feel what happened in that summer of protests changed how I interact with the clay more than anything. The things I captured in the protests and the energy in those moments I began to express through the clay. Bringing both mediums together in different ways is exciting and gives me more options to bring my ideas to life.

Work by Isaac Scott
Photograph by Isaac Scott
Photograph by Isaac Scott
IJ: The art world has shifted dramatically in the last few years where history is being re-evaluated and re-visited from a post-colonial lens. Despite ceramics being globally practiced by all genders and races for centuries, you’ve noted how in the US, the ceramic field is a White space that is inaccessible to Black, Brown, and low-income communities. 

How have you been navigating the predominately White spaces of clay and what challenges have you experienced? Have you seen sufficient progress in the American ceramic field within the last few years? Are there new artists or movements that inspire you?

ISAAC SCOTT: There are so many layers to this issue. In some ways, I have seen a lot of recent progress when it comes to the visibility and resources allocated to Black and Brown ceramic artists in the US. This has come from the rush institutions to Black and Brown artists after the summer of 2020. I am skeptical of this trend holding up though. 

I think real progress only comes when there is a higher diversity of voices on boards of major art/craft institutions but also, and more importantly, institutions that are built, run, and owned by a diversity of voices. I have been serving on the Collaboration and Engagement Committee of NCECA’s Board for a few years now and I have gotten a better picture of why change is so slow to take place. 

I think the things that excite me the most about the future of ceramics are organizers like Yinka Orafidiya, Osa Atoe, Ife Williams, Mapó Kinnord, and organizations like Kaabo Clay and The Color Network. These organizers and organizations have done amazing work in creating communities, resources, and opportunities for Black and Brown artists and artists of color.

IJ: You state how artists of color are “continually faced with the question of why ‘WE’ do what we do. […] It seems we are left to explain why ‘WE’ create what we create.” 
Can you elaborate on what you mean by “WE” and how White ceramic artists aren’t subject to the same questions, prejudices, and mis- and pre-conceptions that artists of color face?

ISAAC SCOTT: When I say “WE” I mean people of color in general. Many minorities who have different racial and cultural identities are aware of how our identities are mixed up in the lens through which people see our work.

As I mentioned before there has been a trend of searching for Black and Brown artists among major art and craft institutions around the country since the murder of George Floyd. I have seen people's lives completely change during that time. It wasn't the artist's work that changed. Just the cultural relevance of the artist's identity. 

I believe that many institutions made certain changes or created programming around DEI initiatives out of self-preservation and not from a sincere connection to those issues. As an artist of color, I am very aware of how my work and the lens people see my work is attached to my identity as a Black man. So often, when dealing with juries, applications, critiques, and museums, my work is viewed through the white lens. 

I often feel, as do many artists of color I know, that this brings an extra level of explanation, education, and misunderstanding around my work, which is directly tied to my identity. However, when I share my work with the black community or with people who have a similar lived experience the nature of the conversation or the critique around the work shifts dramatically.

Caravel, 2023 - Glazed Stoneware, 17h x 10w x 10.25d in, Archival Pigment Inkjet Print mounted on Dibond, 36 x 36 in
Pombo (Pigeon), 2023 - Glazed Stoneware, 17.75h x 9w x 9.5d in, Archival Pigment Inkjet Print mount
Castelo Dos Mouros, 2023 - Glazed Stoneware, 18.75h x 11w x 11.5d in, Archival Pigment Inkjet Print mounted on Dibond, 36 x 36 in

To learn more about Mouros at Lucy Lacoste Gallery, CLICK HERE

To explore the works of Isaac Scott, CLICK HERE

Vulnerable Cultivars: Judy Fox's "Harvest" at Nancy Hoffman Gallery

Judy Fox is a ceramic artist based in the Hudson Valley with a rich history of masterfully transforming ceramics into surrealistic figures and forms. She studied biology and sculpture as an undergraduate at Yale University and received her MA in Art History and Conservation from NYU. Fox pioneered painted figurations of nude children during the 1980s in the East Village that raised controversial issues and over her 40-year career, she has been awarded numerous accolades—recognized for her skill, creativity, and feminist approach to her subjects.

MoCA/NY’s writer Ilsy Jeon speaks with Judy Fox about her recent exhibition titled Harvest at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery in Chelsea, New York City, which is on view until the 21st of October. The show includes fifty terra-cotta sculptures that portray animated fruits and vegetables in various sizes, all evoking a sense of sensuality, vulnerability, and humor—a delicious and amusing feast to the eye. 

ILSYJEON (IJ): Your exhibition Harvest is a gorgeous amalgamation of the subjects and sculptures you’ve been studying and working on since COVID-19 hit in 2020. The all-engulfing collective confrontation of disease, age, and dissociation that the pandemic brought forward has directed and influenced your new series that explores mutated vegetables and fruits. Can you speak about how your experience and contemplations during those tumultuous years are reflected in this new body of work?

JUDY FOX: In my prior exhibition, Garden, I used plant forms as a way of exploring forms and imperatives like growth, differentiation, and reproduction that are common to all kinds of life. The plants were animated by structures analogous to what you see in animals. For example, there are functional parts like roots and branches, and then there are displays like leaves and flowers that tend to be more beautiful, in the way that faces and breasts may be more beautiful than bones and guts.

With Harvest, I was really continuing in that vein of using plant life as illustrative of all life. I honed in on the cultivated, showy parts of the plant.  Those parts are bred to be appealing and tasty looking, so when something is off, it is more pointed. And I was looking for a way to express the tenuous mortality we were all feeling during COVID-19, the sense that even if we were OK, our bodies could go awry. I think that threat is something one starts to feel anyway with aging.

Plants, like us, are marred by deformed growth, scarring, disease, rot, desiccation, and damage. Specially bred cultivars may be especially delicate and vulnerable to those things.  I wanted to point to this common vulnerability in a humorous way by using plants that remind us of our own body parts.

Cassava, 2023, terra cotta, casein paint, 18 x 23 x 16 inches
Broccoli, 2023, terra cotta, casein paint, 4 x 10 x 7 inches
IJ: This series considers the cause and effect of human activity on Earth as you say, “It is not about what people have done to the Earth, it is about what the Earth will do to people as a result of what people have done to Earth.” What do these deformed plants say about our impacts on the planet and the relationship we have with nature?

JUDY FOX: There is lots to say about environmental problems: about the many ways that we poison and deface our environment, as we try to exploit and cultivate nature to supply human life and lifestyle. But environmental science isn't my forum.

As an artist, my language is visual. I can only make broccoli that is a bit rotted, like tar-stained lungs. I can show a radish that looks butchered, a citrus that looks like it is praying, or a scarred, crouching eggplant.

I can only make people feel the truth about ourselves and how we consume and grow and grow awry. 

IJ: Your previous exhibition Garden with Nancy Hoffman in 2019 was rooted in the story of Adam and Eve in the biblical Eden. Many of your works are inspired by mythology, folklore, and fairytales. Is there a narrative that motivated this new installation? Also, you have a long history of sculpting human figures, what attracted you to focus solely on plants for this show?

JUDY FOX: Having dug deep into evolution, religion, and mythology, I felt a need for a simpler, perhaps more approachable presentation. Harvest avoids character and mythological references. The human body is not directly depicted. I feel like people can no longer handle the naked truth of what the flesh looks like in the kind of idiosyncratic detail that interests me.  

However, I can pay close attention to fruit flesh and not have people look away and wonder if I am shaming someone.  But the body is present in my work, of course.  With plants, I have given myself more freedom to pursue the truth of mortal form.

Twin Tomatoes, 2023, terra cotta, casein paint, 8 x 9 x 5 inches
Navel Orange, 2023, terra cotta, casein paint, 8 x 8 x 8 inches
Parsnip, 2020, terra cotta, casein paint, 30 x 19.25 x 11 inches
Lemon, 2023, terra cotta, casein paint, 3 x 6.5 x 3.75 inches
Peach with Buttoning and Scarring, 2023, terra cotta, casein paint, 10 x 10 x 9 inches
IJ: It's undeniable that your academic background in biology, conservation, and art history has guided your practice—not only in the subjects you sculpt but also in your process. How do you determine the subjects you want to explore? How did you develop your distinct signature style of painting layers of casein paint on clay and why do use ceramics as your primary medium?

JUDY FOX: I learned to sculpt with clay on an armature, which is the best way to experiment with the form itself. And clay is the most direct vehicle for shaping form. So though I moved away from the armature and sculpture casting, continuing to work in clay was natural for me. I like to stick to a traditional medium as a way of having a defined language and historical discourse in my work.

My use of paint grew out of two convictions: that the abstracted modernist nude was played out, and that the academic figure was hopelessly sentimentalized and conventional.  So I looked back to gothic polychrome sculptures that celebrated the way people really look.  Back in the 1980's when I started, I was not aware of any other contemporary artists painting modeled figures.  

My specific figurative subjects: well-known characters in well-known identifying poses, were chosen because their stories and their gestures had interesting readings by contemporary standards. Misinterpretation is almost unavoidable when translating across time and culture. It becomes part of new times and cultures. I was highlighting appropriation at a time when awareness of it was dim. Now that everyone is hyperaware of that issue, the reading of gestures in my older work has likely changed.

IJ: The way you sculpt the various vegetables and fruits has a beautiful human quality where they look alive, have their own personalities, and are reminiscent of the human body. Twin Tomatoes and Peach with Buttoning and Scarring take the shape of breasts, Carrot, Parsnip, and Cassava look like legs, and Ackee resembles a vulva.

You’ve noted: “I wanted all those non-animate things [plants] to express all of those animated qualities.” Was it a challenge maintaining the character of these vegetables while incorporating human attributes? How do you envision viewers interpreting and responding to these works and has any feedback about your exhibition surprised you?

JUDY FOX: When sculpting the form, I very often had to pull back the figurative shapes that naturally inhabit my work. I studied photos of many examples of each kind of fruit to figure out its physical language (lumps, grooves, plumpness, texture) and I tried to stick to that.  But it turns out it doesn't take much for people to see themselves in anything. I am very pleased to report that people seemed to enjoy and get this work on many levels - a pleasant surprise.


To explore and learn more about Judy Fox's work, CLICK HERE

To explore and learn more about the Nancy Hoffman Gallery and Fox's exhibition Harvest, CLICK HERE

Exploring the World Upside Down with Patti Warashina

Patti Warashina, a renowned and acclaimed satirical ceramicist based in Washington (US), speaks with Ilsy Jeon about her recent solo exhibition at the Traver Gallery titled The World Upside Down. 

The exhibition, showcasing dozens of Warashina’s provocative sculptures is a delight to experience, as her ceramic figures seduce you with their playful charms and lock you into contemplating the turmoils pestering society. Warashina has a profound history of capturing the dichotomous nature of humor and doom (with a hefty spoonful of absurdity), and masterfully crafts physical manifestations of the characters and narratives prancing in her mind.

Wild Blue Yonder - courtesy of Traver Gallery

 

IJ: Congratulations on such an incredible exhibition! I enjoyed watching your walkthrough and listening to you elaborate on your work.  You’ve been represented by the Traver Gallery since 2019 and this is your first major exhibition at the gallery. How did you prepare for this show and why did you decide to title it The World Upside Down?

PATTI WARASHINA: My ideas over the years, seem to be involved in what is happening around me. I think of my work as a “visual diary.”  I read two newspapers every day and the news channels are constantly on while I work in my studio as it is difficult to watch movies, which demands focusing on the screen.  

Three years ago, when the pandemic was in full swing, it seemed as though the world was in constant turmoil (ie. politics, covid, environment, war, homelessness, etc.).  The title World Upside Down seemed appropriate to describe the work which represents all my concerns and reflections.

Democracy on the Run - work courtesy of Traver Gallery
IJ: Your work reveals aspects of society that you consider significant to explore and scrutinize—what are the issues in the exhibition that you’re addressing and how do you wish the viewer to engage and respond to your pieces?  

Societal, political, and environmental issues are expressed in my work. Because of the horrifying issues that society is facing, I try to present these problems in my art, by drawing the viewer to the work through visual color and stylized abstraction, using identifiable characters and objects that the viewer can relate to in their own world.  After a second glance, the meaning of these objects and characters becomes more apparent to the viewer and is open to personal interpretation.

 

IJ: Your figures express anxiety, tension, desire for escape, and helplessness but all in a humorous and playful tone. As a satirist, how do you balance these juxtaposing feelings?

The way I convey these societal ills in my art helps to protect me psychologically from the issues and be able to address these horrifying conditions through the way that I portray them.   

IJ: You reference the pandemic and the collective experience of madness and disorder we all endured. How has the pandemic affected your work?

The pandemic has greatly affected my art and is a big subject of much of it. The issues I portray are connected to the human condition and to our political division, war, environmental destruction, and women’s issues. 

IJ:The treatment of your figures is stylized and sculpted in such an animated way that, albeit the forms are static, there’s movement and dynamism exuding from your work. You note how your figures represent the human consciousness, can you elaborate on this? 

The stylized human figures represent "human consciousness” and are floating above the earth’s sphere, or hemispheres, that represent the “world” or planet on which we live.  To me, these floating figures represent beings observing the conditions of society or what is happening on the earth below.  

 

IJ: Over your 60 years of working with clay, how has your relationship with the medium evolved? Do you see a difference in how clay is expressed, created, and experienced today versus when you first started?  

Like many of us who are clay artists, the tactile seduction of the material was the initial attraction to this versatile material.  Its "chameleon-like" character can be made to look like almost any other building material (i.e. metal, wood, paper, vegetation, etc.)  

Initially, I was also attracted to “conquering” wheel-thrown objects, and the curiosity of completing this clay form by the myriad, unique, and endless techniques from glazed surfaces, that the ‘fire” could perform.  Clay also lends itself not only to the 3-dimensional form but also adds another dimension to 2-D surface compositions as well. 

Yes, I have seen a dramatic shift in the versatility of the clay art medium since I first started, as our communication of the craft has exploded worldwide, and the transfer of ideas and talent is boundless.

 

IJ: You’re a long-time friend of Judith Schwartz, the President of MoCA/NY, and was even featured in her book Confrontational Ceramics where she included your piece “Oil Slick, from Drunken Power,” which depicts Bush and Cheney covered in oil spills—critiquing their interest in Middle Eastern oil. You’ve also portrayed controversial figures such as Trump and Putin. Has the rise of political polarization and sensitivity influenced how you approach depicting these political figures? 

Sure, they are part of society's conflicts, and for me, thought-provoking subject matter.   Perhaps because of the abstractions of the figurative elements, one might think of these pieces as 3-dimensional political cartoons.

Explosive Situation - work courtesy of Traver Gallery
Double Trouble - work courtesy of Traver Gallery

The political, national, and international polarization, as well as the horrific problems that encompass our earth and societies, is ugly and difficult to comprehend as well as visually unattractive to view. I tend to interpret the ugliness in a manner that captures the viewer by composition, modifying subject matter, and approaching the surface in a bold, graphic way. Once captured, the viewer will start to see the details of the subject that can be personally interpreted. Hopefully, this makes the subject matter approachable and visually digestible.


To explore and learn more about Patti Warashina's exhibition The World Upside Down at Traver Gallery, CLICK HERE

 

To watch Traver Gallery's walkthrough with Patti Warashina, CLICK HERE

 

To read Patti Warashina's Statement, CLICK HERE
 

 

Beril Anilanmert

 

Explore the artistic journey of Beril Anilanmert in this captivating video, where her process, philosophy, and creative practice come to life. The video also offers an exclusive look at her recent retrospective, known as Logbook.

 

See below for a full interview with Beril Anilanmert and Judith Schwartz.

Judith Schwartz speaks with Beril Anilanmert, a celebrated artist who resides in Istanbul, Turkey. Beril was a Professor and Dean at Mimar Sinan University and a member of many boards that further the arts in society. She has had 23 major solo exhibitions and has exhibited internationally while simultaneously lecturing at symposiums and workshops. She is a member of the IAC and hosted a congress that was known to be one of the best congresses the International Academy of Ceramics ever had.

Beril works with a variety of mediums. She not only works in clay but in paint and printmaking. In clay, she creates these large-scale forms that soar into space as she manipulates these elements that are cut and reconstructed, and reattached to create new forms. Recently, she had a major retrospective of her work and the following interview delves into her robust art practice.

JS: Tell us about your retrospective.

Beril Anilanmert: Well, first of all, I didn't want to call it retrospective because I thought that when I say retrospective, it seems to me as if it's going to end, whereas I'm still working. So I named it my Logbook. It's a term used in maritime. And it's a book that records whatever is on the voyage of the vessel. So what I wanted to do is my artistic voyage, and I want to present this to the visitors. There were about 130 pieces, maybe even more.

It was interesting for me to see all of them together. It was very well received by the media, but what I would say it was displayed for three months long. And now the same exhibit is again moved to a different city. Now it's exhibited in Ankara and is still going on.

JS: Congratulations on this extensive exhibition. It’s marvelous to see the magnitude of this show and the quality of the video is a lasting tribute. You noted in your work that you are both an academic and an artist, with these two aspects of your life integrated. What is the thread that pulls these together? In other words, how do these roles come together to inform your life?

Beril Anilanmert: Well, my husband was an artist, painter, and a professor at the same university that I was in, so we had a lot to share. And as for education, academic position, well, it is rather a creative and a research-based activity. So it's the same thing with the studio work too. I find it the same way. When you start working, you start with researching, and then you start to use your creativeness to present what you want to do. 

So, I find it correlating rather feeding each other. For example, in the university, you are always in contact with the younger generation with new fresh ideas coming to you and you share your knowledge, your network, and your experiences with students. It's a rather good interaction and it builds up in you. Whereas in your studio you're all alone. But again, the same thing, the same research-based creative activities interact with each other.

JS: One of the things I felt seeing the video was how your process of breaking a piece and then reconstructing it, is very much part of your conversation—putting parts back together and reconfiguring them. What is the motivation behind this idea? What is on your mind for constructing form this way?

Beril Anilanmert: Those works I name Transformations. The main idea that I want to convey is the dynamic effect the object has in it. I want the viewer to feel the energy that is captured in that work. And it's created by the contrast and the tensions of the reconstructed pieces. They are composed in such a way that they form a tension within the piece, and it creates a certain kind of energy that I want to convey to the viewer.

JS: Well, they do soar and look dynamic and dramatic. One of your great contributions is the way you handle the clay. You mentioned that this Logbook, is a culmination of your decades of making art. How do you feel about seeing all these works together? It must have been a big challenge to create this exhibition. What insight have you gotten looking at these works all together?

Beril Anilanmert: It was very interesting for me to see all of them covering so many years. Each has its own story, of course, but what I saw in those works is that I had so much that I didn't even exhibit in that show.

The amount of work that I have done, I was astonished myself how I have done all those years. But it was interesting. It was very well received by the media. This exhibit was the first one, the opening exhibit of the gallery. After the pandemic, the galleries were all closed. So, when we announced the exhibit, people were still hesitant to go into closed areas. So, we had two openings. One was for the press, and then about two weeks later, we had the next opening. And it was wonderful. We had wonderful feedback.

JS: I'm sure it's also gratifying to see it traveling from one city to another. And in each city, it has a new life. One of the things I admire about you, Beril, is your ability to work in a variety of mediums. I've seen you with brushes either painting or printmaking as well. But ceramics is something that you've stayed with, and I'm wondering if that's the perennial for you. Tell us what it is about clay that you choose it to be your primary material?

Beril Anilanmert: Yes, clay is my primary material, and I find it very enriching. It has 2-D quality and 3-D qualities. So, with 2-D qualities, it gives me satisfaction to paint, to use my love of color. My painting interest in ceramic, especially using glazes, is my joy of life. 

But with the sculptural effect, its space, and it's what I enjoy, sculptural work. You have the volume and the space, you play with them, and it gives me satisfaction, too. But clay really fulfills my life. When I use color in paper, the color just sinks, stays there, whereas in ceramics, it's lively, it still has some magic in it.

And of course, fire has its own word on it, I would say. But still, clay coloring and working with volumes, it really is very satisfactory. In paperwork, drawing for instance, I try to use just black ink on washi paper because I can get that liveliness on paper. It's blacker and whiter than color on paper.

JS: Well, you spent time in Japan, haven't you? No doubt black ink painting was very much part of your experience there.

Beril Anilanmert: Yes, it was. And I also think that free ink drawing is so direct without interference of color or other processes.

JS: Well, congratulations, again Beril. You have enriched our understanding of your many years of studio production. Having your work gathered and illuminated in this video reinforces our knowledge of your personal vision and contribution to ceramic art.

Beril Anilanmert: Thank you for having me.


To learn more and explore the works of Beril Anilanmert, CLICK HERE.