Left to their own devices, three ceramic artists take the medium in very different directions.
SRQ Review | december 2021
In Visual Arts
PHOTOGRAPH BY WYATT KOSTYGAN / UVRE WITH AUTHORIZATION OF THE ARTISTS.
From pottery to porcelain, it is almost an archaeological axiom that the secrets of a people lie in their ceramic arts. Even the smallest shard (yes, “shard”) tells the stories of its maker in form, purpose and composition. Here in Sarasota, our stories of ceramic artists are as varied as they are beautiful, each a union made by the hand of an artist and the earth, frozen by fire.
In his latest sculptural series, Morgan Janssen finally faces an age-old problem with pottery: it’s sort of there. “They don’t interact with them a lot once they’re exposed,” she says. “I liked the idea of inviting people to touch.” Enter Janssen Cliff notes, a series of kinetic sculptures designed to be pushed, pushed, rolled and pushed with, at least, a slight abandon. Rounded and hollow, they seem built to wander and dangerous to push, but weighted slabs affixed inside keep each room lazily wobbling in its original orientation instead of drifting away. Confusing the gravitational equation further, the sculpted brass ‘tropiflora’ easily attaches to any room via internal magnets, making each sculpture – and its movement – customizable and just a little bit unpredictable. Irreverent yet inherently fragile, the tension brings a visceral excitement to the ceramic arts not seen since the brief but tragic craze for ceramic shark cages of 1965.
Ceramic work by MorganJanssen.com, [email protected], @momo_didit
For ceramist and sculptor Andrew Long, the medium shines when it returns to its roots, with artists producing plates and bowls, cups and mugs – functional artefacts of everyday life, each carefully researched and designed for its purpose. goal. “I love the privacy of handmade items,” Long says, and he finds something sacred in the art injection and care they bring to everyday movements like eating or drinking. “It turns a passive activity into an active activity,” he says, “where you are more aware, more engaged in action. Fired at 2,300 degrees for added durability, Long gives each of his pieces an additional artistic signature in the form of homemade enamels he prepares himself, each specially designed to react to high heat. “I like to bring the character of the process to my work,” he says.
Ceramic artwork found at Etsy.com/shop/Claybeard, @claybeard_ceramics.
Taylor Robenalt carves her life’s journey into pure porcelain and what a year it has been. A year of new life and new beginnings, with Robenalt celebrating his first child and canine companion with supportive puppies, not to mention starting a new job at Ringling College of Art & Design and receiving an artist residency in Greece. The resulting exuberance and optimism pour into the porcelain shapes of rabbits, raccoons and squirrels, silver-tongued wolves and ruby-lipped women with red cardinals atop their heads. Each piece is handcrafted by Robenalt, who describes the joy of working in this most delicate ceramic material as “like working with butter”. Fantastic and totemic, the series sees the artist further exploring a symbolic narrative that exploits the fantastic to transcend the specific. “In a weird way, I end up striking a chord with people,” says Robenalt. “Inevitably, I’ll sync up with someone.”
Ceramic work by TaylorRobenaltCeramics.com, [email protected]