Fascinated by the potential of place to define and connect us, she uses subtle narratives on functional work to elicit memories of past experiences. Nicole Aquillano establishes a close personal relationship with each piece; influenced by a nostalgia for her childhood home. Architectural imagery drawn from my photographic collection – inlaid with intense attention to detail directly into the porcelain clay becomes blurred by the movement of glaze. Aquillano is driven by a desire to hold onto that which will inevitably be lost. Her memories and experiences are carved onto objects intended to be both used and collected.
Jeremy Ayers strives to make pottery that celebrates the joy of eating, drinking and creating a special relationship between the owner and the object. In the 21st Century, in a world of homogeneous, mass-produced products, Jeremy believes that a handmade piece of pottery in your hand is a choice that states you want to slow down and enjoy the beauty of the moment. He makes his pottery to help accomplish that goal. Jeremy’s pottery becomes a witness and participant to the routines of your daily life. From his hands to your hands, this pot sits and waits for you and is glorified by your use of it.
Using ceramics and mixed media, Christina Carfora creates engaging narrative sculptures that explore the mind and human relationships. Through the use of imagery and symbolism, such as people, animals and organic forms, she tells stories about triumphs, failures, opinions or revelations that everyone has experienced during their lives.
Using slab and coil construction, as well as altered wheel-thrown forms, Carfora explores a variety of techniques in her work, including colored slips, glaze, salt-firing, raku and cold finishes. She begins each piece by deciding its title and then creating a series of sketches to decide which visuals communicate the narrative. Paying particular attention to the subtle nuances in the face or the posture of the form, she completes the story in the details. She says, “I leave the story open ended to create a setting of dialogue with the viewer. It is my hope that the viewer may be able to personalize the experience and become psychologically involved in the work.”
Above: Christina Carfora, “Self Contained.” Ceramic. Photo by HCCC.
Amanda Dobbratz has a well-developed affection for complex surfaces and experimental modes of working. She hopes that her work exhibits a successful marriage between the whimsical and the practical. Dobbratz’s background as a painter provides a trove of techniques she applies to ceramic surfaces including gestural elements, heavy patterning with geometric shapes and symbols, unexpected contrasts in luster and luminosity, and painterly color combinations. The sources for Dobbratz’s surface treatments include the desert landscape, body ornamentation, and historical textiles.
Adam is a studio potter living and working in Minnesota. His work is inspired by industrial processes and the American studio pottery tradition. Adam takes great joy and pride in making every-day objects that work well and are crafted with care and consideration.
He hopes that his objects can be comfortably employed in one’s life; beautiful in its ability to accomplish a given task and agreeable enough to do it every day.
“Let my pieces speak to you.”
Born in Kyushu, Japan, Teruhiko (Terry) Hagiwara came to the U.S. in 1969 and to Houston in 1981. Though he enjoys a day job as a research physicist in the petroleum industry, he has been passionate about ceramics since he began taking classes at Houston’s Glassell School of Art in 1989. He is inspired by that which is almost, but not quite, symmetrical, delighting in the element of chaos a slight skew brings to the order and control of symmetrical forms.
Terry works with high-fire stonewares and sometimes wood fire, but more often with raku firing. With raku, he uses glazes, whether metallic copper or crackle white, in simple geometric surface designs. He also uses a process he calls “jade finish,” during which he omits any glaze and instead burnishes, applies slip, then removes the slip after raku-firing.
Terry Hagiwara, “Lattice Basket Vase.” Ceramic. Photo by Amanda Shackleford.
Clara Hoag builds figure sculptures that reflect, and reflect on, the nature of the human condition and the “lived” urban experience. Hoag integrates architectural motifs into human forms, often referencing medieval grotesque images for the facial features of her distinctive ceramics. Hoag’s sculptures are built in parts and combine those parts with construction adhesive, epoxy, and mortar. In this way, her sculptures take on the personality of a built environment: each piece is greater than the sum of its parts. Within each of Hoag’s figures are elements of human struggle and celebration, human vulnerability and strength.
“My work addresses the way things grow, live, receive support from the environment, decay and ultimately start again. The features that are produced through these actions are the source of my visual vocabulary. The subtle details found in the natural world, the cyclical quality of life, and the way nature interacts with human society are the topics I generally work with. The media used in my work reflects my appreciation for process and learned skill. I enjoy the process of making just as much as the end result.”
“Smug Mugs are inspired by my series of sculptural works that feature mouths with various expressions. Each one is unique and completely handmade–thrown on the potter’s wheel, hand carved, glazed, and china painted. These mugs are meant to be used. They are made of porcelain and are dishwasher and microwave safe, although heating liquids in a separate container and washing by hand will extend the life and finish of the mug.”
Jason Kishell, “Texas Orb Weaver Mug,.” Ceramic. Photo by HCCC.
Lebeth Lammers has long known that clay, as an artistic medium, has the versatility to allow her to express her ideas in both two and three dimensions, using surface and texture, opacity and translucence. With both painterly and traditional ceramic techniques, she creates work in series which evolve piece by piece into works distinct from the original.
“Sometimes when I open the kiln, I see a shape which approaches my idea or a surface which perfectly fits its shape. At those times, I like to think the fulfillment I feel may also be felt by the person who will own that piece. For the opportunity to make art which touches both nature and my own creativity, I am forever grateful.”
Above: Lebeth Lammers, “Frog/Lily Pad Mug”. Ceramic. Photo by HCCC.
Growing up Houston based ceramicist Wyatt Little used to watch a lot of ‘Saved By The Bell’. “I remember carrying around those brick phones, like the kind Zack had on the show,” they were bulky and huge–not exactly the sleekest technology. The combination of these nostalgic items, and learning how to cast led Little to pursue ceramic art. Little’s designs begin with a memory or a treasured object. The results are decidedly quirky, whimsical objects that can be scattered throughout an apartment as standalone bits of décor, or, like his phone vases, used as catchalls for knickknacks or treasured flora. “My designs are my way of immortalizing the things I’ve always cared about,” Little says.
“My functional work reflects the way I live, from the way I cook to the way I like to shop. My designs are based on my passions: cactus, Houston, Texas, television, cooking, science, shopping, and family nostalgia.”
“I am constantly stimulated by the world around me and feel compelled to translate it into a way that I can share with others. Functional work is inspired from objects I use myself or would like to use. My figurative, sculptural works become conglomerations of my encounters sprinkled with the kind of nervous energy persisting in present-day America.”
“Inspiration for sculptural work is based on the human figure and my un-verbalized concerns about life and the human condition. Many of the forms are influenced by the objects I collect.”
Left: Lotus, “Spike Cup” and “Skull Mug.” Ceramic. Photo by HCCC.
Didem Mert makes connections between the utilitarian object and its counterparts; the user and/or the object’s environment through Geometry, texture, and functionality. Different textural surfaces are created in Mert’s work by using pinched marks juxtaposed between smooth, defined lines and edges. Bright colors or luster shapes paired against a soft earthy color palette create high-contrast focal points in the work. The simple line-work on the pots showcases food in its presentation. Mert’s work strives to bring forth a sense of tranquility in its minimalistic design.
**The use of luster glaze makes these pieces not safe for use in the microwave**
As a professional photographer, Peter Olson has traveled the world many times over. From corporate culture to religious iconography, Olson finds meaning in the repetition of human expression. The images encasing each ceramic piece are left by ink from photographic prints that when fired, burn away leaving a permanent and detailed image from the iron oxide in the ink. These expertly collaged individual pieces give way to a fixed visual narrative, a kaleidoscope of imagery than spans centuries and continents. When joined this way, each motif contributes to a network of increasing complexity.
Eric Stearns creates sculptural, pierced raku art. Stearns’s work strikes a chord with the viewer that conveys a fragile and fleeting existence. He uses the raku process to accentuate the intersecting fragility of life, passionate connections, and the pain of betrayal, using the matrix of the objects to allude to those concepts. With a strong interest in mathematics, Stearns creates patterns that explore relationships between glaze color, and texture, to elicit emotional responses. “Each piece created is an attempt at a reflection of who I am as a person and as an artist at the moment my hands touch the clay and then continues through the glazing and firing processes. In this reflection, my hope is that a viewer can find a connection to their own experiences on this journey of life.”
Shiyaun Xu explores natural forms at the microscopic level with her own interpretation of scientific facts. Xu’s pieces reveal the diversity and beauty of unnoticed tiny things. Primarily working with porcelain paper clay, Shiyaun hand builds structures with slabs and coils to create intricate forms. Xu’s chaotic lines create a harmonious volume within a single form, generating a unified whole. Experimenting with various glazes Xu applies layer after layer, to form and freeze the growing motion. Through her sculptures, she wants to deliver an appreciation for nature and life
Dustin Yager received his BA in studio art from Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota, and his MA in visual and critical studies from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL. Yager has exhibited his work most recently in the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction’s juried art show in Bloomington, Indiana. Yager’s work draws attention to the fact that we are both consumers and producers of culture. Culture exists on a variety of scales, from incredibly personal experiences to the values embodied by our material belongings, creations, displays, and actions.