Fusion Mentorship with Linda Sormin December 30 2014

For the past few months, I have been participating in a ceramics mentorship program lead by Linda Sormin, and organized by Fusion. If you ever need a serious kick in the ass when it comes to your studio practice, I highly suggest joining a similar program or group, as it will get you talking about your work, get you out of your head and challenge you to question everything that you make and do. Sounds terrifying, right? In all the right ways. Above, you can see some of the questions we're trying to answer as we approach our work -- which will eventually be exhibited in a group show in September 2015 at Craft Ontario. I've been craving a return to a sculptural/assemblage approach for a long time. When your main focus is functional pots (especially after the holiday show season), you can struggle to itch that part of your brain that wants to make things that are weird, grotesque or just not quite fully resolved. There is incredible freedom in working sculpturally. The thing is, once I realized this I ended up having so many ideas/directions to pursue that I was completely overwhelmed. I struggled to focus.


To free myself up, I started "drawing" with porcelain slip (above) by using a large squeeze bottle -- making floral patterns and quickly sketching out loose motifs. I have a tendency to remain in my sketchbook for too long, so this was the most direct way I could transition out of it and actually get my hands dirty. I loved how the elements looked all together on the kiln shelf. My first idea was to create a large wall installation of these individual parts (which would cast shadows) and perhaps keep the stark white colour of the slip, while painting the wall behind with bold, colourful patters. As my friend Michelle says, "More is more?" I think the next step for this idea will be to make a miniature version (with all the colour and shadow) so that I can see how it will read on a larger scale.


Then, the One of a Kind Show happened and my Creative Brain morphed into my Biz Lady Brain. I reluctantly hit the pause button when I realized I was feeling super restricted and burnt out... the exact opposite of how you want to feel when you're trying to develop new ideas.


Cue holiday break!


When I picked the work back up again, I wanted to model some more three dimensional forms (see above, third pic from the top): buds, blossoms, soon hopefully some twig-like forms. The bud forms are directly translated from surface designs I use on my functional pots. These bits made the most sense to me once I started arranging them as a group (carefully, as these are still just greenware). I can imagine a larger version based off of this maquette being really interesting -- what I don't yet know is what narratives I can create within these plant forms. One of my goals for this mentorship program was to integrate more of a narrative in my work -- perhaps by using flower symbolism or eastern-European folk symbols (see Phytomorphic Symbols from Pysanky). These are patterns I'm always drawn back to, and have layers and layers of meaning -- how to decode them visually, though? More to think about...