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For artists, collectors, and anyone interested in these themes, Ceramics and the Human Figure is an exciting survey of the state of the figure in clay today.

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Ceramics and the Human Figure profiles an international range of ceramic artists, all practicing within the fields of installation and sculpture. Divided by broad themes, each chapter features a variety of different expressive works. The book explores the role of figurative ceramics through history and in contemporary contexts. It also reveals the methods of six key artists, using how-to images to illustrate their techniques.

Born in Los Angeles, Edith Garcia is a ceramic sculptor and researcher. She received her BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and MFA from the California College of Arts (and Crafts). Her work has been exhibited throughout North America, Mexico and Europe, and is included in the permanent Sculpture Garden of the Archie Bray Foundation in Montana, and other public and private collections across the USA and UK. Her pieces have been featured in New Keramik, Ceramic Review, Ceramic Monthly, Time Out London, American Craft Magazine, Breaking the Mould, and Confrontational Ceramics. She has recently completed her research into the human figure in sculpture at the Royal College of Art in London. More information can be found at her website,

ceramics and the human figure

The human figure has been represented in clay throughout history and continues to evolve today. Artists are working with the figure in new ways, playing with materials and forms, and making use of new technologies to produce challenging and unconventional work, from the intact whole figure to the fragmented, hybrid and abstract.

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A & C BLACK 路 LONDON The american ceramic society 路 ohio

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CONTENTS Acknowledgements Introduction



Towards the Figure by Dr Bonnie Kemske 10 The Body: Between Myth and Form by Edith Garcia 29

Part 1: Artists and Themes 1: Revisiting History – – – – – – – –


Chris Antemann Barnaby Barford Christie Brown Pattie Chalmers Kelly Garrett Rathbone Arthur Gonzalez Patricia Rieger Claire Partington

2: THE Human Condition & Everyday Life 61 – – – – – – – – – – –

Wesley Anderegg Tom Bartel Christyl Boger Kirsten Brünjes Edith Garcia Claire Curneen Thaddeus Erdahl Jasna Sokolovic Margaret Keelan Claire Loder Kensuke Yamada

4: HybridS 109 – – – – – –

Chuck Aydlett Louise Hindsgavl Lisa Clague Simona Janis˘ová Michaelene Walsh Jason Walker

5: Disappearance 127 – – – – – – – – – – –

Bonnie Kemske Philip Li Michael Lucero Hanne Mannheimer Jeff Mongrain Judy Moonelis Andy Nasisse Noel O’Connell Xavier Toubes Richard Slee Wendy Walgate

Part 2: Artists' Resources

3: Gender and Social Issues 89

Techniques 157

– – – – – – –

– – – – – –

Andrea Keys Connell Cynthia Consentino Russell Biles Nuala Creed Matt Smith Christina West Justin Novak

Barnaby Barford Tom Bartel Christie Brown Lisa Clague Arthur Gonzalez Kensuke Yamada

Contributors Index




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y journey through this project has taught me many things, mostly that writing a book is not a solitary act — it is the work of many people. Being able to complete this publication and now understanding first hand the time it takes to create such an amazing book, not just from myself (as the author) but also for all of the individuals involved in ensuring its quality and success, has given me new appreciation for writing. Firstly, I would like to thank all of the artists who have contributed to this book; this publication would not be as beautiful and exciting without their years of hard work, dedication and commitment to their vision as practicing artists. It is the artists’ constant innovation in the use of clay and the human figure that have really helped shape the pages of this book. I feel privileged and honoured to have been able to work so closely with all of them. I would also like to thank everyone at A&C Black Publishing, particularly, Alison Hawkes (nee Stace) and Kate Sherington for their guidance and professionalism, and the designers and editors who ensure that the artists’ intentions and images flow beautifully throughout the pages. Your dedication to, and enthusiasm for, the project are immeasurable. Thank you. To my dearest friends and family, thank you for allowing me the space and time, and for giving me the continuous support, to complete this project. Thank you to my mother, Nohemi, for her generous words of reassurance in both my career as an artist and a writer and to my brothers, Josue, Alex and Gabriel for living such wonderful lives and being my muses and guides through mine. For all those lost evenings and weekends, my deepest and most heartfelt gratitude to my adoring, charming and patient partner Jean-Charles Monnet. Your infinite patience and support gave me the motivation and time to make this book into a reality. It would not have been completed without you. Te amo tanto! Thank you for your hard work and for making this project a success. I look forward to seeing the continued accomplishments of all the artists and I hope that this publication will help to bring ceramics, and the use of the human form in sculpture, to new and exciting audiences.


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The Body: Between Myth and Form Edith Garcia


s a young person I was always drawn to the arts. I sought out and devoured art literature of every kind and as a young person I aimed to discover new art movements whilst growing up in El Paso, Texas. But it was my formative years of training that changed my entire perspective on sculpture and contemporary ceramics. In this essay, I will briefly cover the development of figurative ceramics from an historical context, and discuss some of the pivotal artists and movements that have brought the figure to its current place in the world of art today. Minneapolis College of Art and Design My first hands-on introduction to clay was simply to use it as a tool for modelling figurative sculptures, which were then cast in bronze. I worked with clay in this manner for two out of my four years at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. When I realised that clay was a much more powerful tool than simply being used as a ‘staging post’ for bronze, I stopped taking clay for granted and became interested in it as a material in its own right. I looked at the history of clay and the more I learnt, the more I became fascinated by the versatility and flexibility of the material, and the fact that it was available in so many variations. It was a new world. A further contributing factor in my interest in clay was that it was also relatively inexpensive (as a student this was an essential quality) and, like bronze, it became a permanent material once it was fired. I also began

to identify with other fine artists who had used clay to create sculpture and began to see clay not just as a ‘material’, but as a medium with its own qualities, to be used to create one-off unique objects by both fine and applied artist. During the period of the ancient Greeks, and throughout the 14th to 15th century Renaissance, representations of the figure often took an idealistic approach in that artists changed the ‘natural’ look of the body to reflect a more ‘perfected’ notion of the human form. In the Victorian era, clay was used to create figurines which captured the human form in snapshots or postcards of everyday life in three dimensions, creating scenes that reflected the notion of an ideal life. The influence of clay is evident in the work of fine artists such as Auguste Rodin, who traditionally only worked in bronze, in both formal bronze forms and in more spontaneous works, in which he allowed the modelled quality of the clay to find expression. Joan Miró, who was primarily known as a painter, was also a prolific ceramicist, creating numerous figurative works that danced between figuration and abstraction. Miró’s approach to clay was one that reflects a sense of freedom and comfort with the material, in which there is a freeflowing sense of expression in his handling of the clay, as well as in his approach to the mark-making in the works [1, over page]. Even amidst the radical development in the post-war period and the popularity of Abstract Expressionism,


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post-war artists still choose to investigate the figure. One such artist was Pablo Picasso, who continued to work with the figure in clay. In Picasso’s early ceramic works, he modelled his designs and shapes on utilitarian objects [2], but as he developed his skills in clay there was a change in his use of the figure from a stationary pose to a more expressive stance. This is evident in such ceramic sculptures as Femme drapeé, which he created in his Vallauris studio in France in 1948.


Today artists are able to play with the possibilities of materials and form more than ever; digital technologies help us change the body with tools that make it easy to morph and fragment the figure. Within art and craft practice, artists continue to explore new possibilities for representation of the human form, not simply recreating it in its natural or idealised state, but using the body to convey a sense of ‘presence’ or ‘absence’ without having to depict its anatomical likeness. Artist Clare Twomey was able to capture this essence in her work Consciousness/Conscience (2001–4). In this installation she created a false floor of unfired china tiles, and then allowed members of the audience to step into the artwork, imprinting their footsteps as they walked towards Polaroids of the artist making the tiles. This work spoke of the consciousness and unconsciousness of the participants in the work. It was not until multiple participants had walked across the floor and the weight of their bodies crushed the unfired tiles, returning them to dust, that you felt the phantom presence of others.

1 Joan Miró, Femme, 1956. Ceramic. Held in Collection Famille Maeght, Paris. Photograph by the author. 2 Pablo Picasso, The Woman Vase, 20th century. Ceramic. Held at the Pushkin Museum, Moscow, Russia. © The Gallery Collection/ Corbis. 2


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ARNABY BARFORD works with both massproduced and found porcelain figurines, deconstructing them and re-assembling them to create darkly humorous narratives.

delicate and perfectly-formed figurines revel in dark humour and satire. Within his one-off sculptural pieces, Barford focuses on levels of society, from underground hoodie culture to socialites. No class or section of society is safe from his provocative approach and bold attempts at redefining social roles. Barford states that his work ‘is influenced by the dark English humour and satire, and explores and celebrates the human condition.’

Barford focuses on reinventing the meaning of 19thcentury kitsch figurines. For example, in the whimsicallytitled How else am I gonna learn? (2011), he uses the figure of an innocent, adorable little boy – something you might find at Grandma’s house – and places him on top of a sea of pornographic magazines [3]. His small,


2 1 Happy Meal, 2009. Porcelain, earthenware, enamel paint, painted wooden base, other media, 21 x 100 x 40 cm (8 x 39½ x 15½ in.). Photograph courtesy of the artist. 2 Mary had a little lamb, 2007. Bone china, porcelain, metal, enamel paint, 27 x 29 x 29 cm (10½ x 11½ x 11½ in.). Photograph courtesy of the artist. 3 How else am I gonna learn? (detail), 2011. Porcelain, ceramic, enamel paint, wood, other media, 20 x 70 x 40 cm (8 x 27½ x 15½ in.). Photograph courtesy of the artist.


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4 Family Feast, 2009. Porcelain, earthenware, enamel paint, painted wooden base, other media, 31 x 100 x 40 cm (12 x 39½ x 15½ in.). Photograph courtesy of the artist. 5 Dear Lord, for what we are about to receive make us truly thankful, 2007. Earthenware, porcelain, enamel paint, 30 x 38 x 28 cm (12 x 15 x 11 in.). Photograph courtesy of the artist. 6 At least I’m still here, 2010. Porcelain, enamel paint, other media, 27 x 100 x 40 (10½ x 39½ x 15½ in.). Photograph courtesy of the artist. 7 Ring-a-Ring-a-Roses, 2009. Porcelain, earthenware, enamel paint, painted wooden base, other media, 28 x 80 x 45 cm (11 x 31½ x 17½ in.). Photograph courtesy of the artist. 7


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pattIE chalmers


ATTIE CHALMERS creates works that lead your eyes and mind into a playful world of mischievous characters. Her work is full of a sneaky and giggling sense of humour – each unique piece is a tale in itself, created with the artist’s personality in evidence. Her love of cartoon and sequential art helps her create scenes that are almost like still-lifes suspended in clay. For instance, in Brownie Meets Mudman (The Lonely Rock) (2010), the moment of an innocent girl scout on a camping trip, with her tent pitched and campfire blazing, is stunningly depicted, but it is the creature whose hand she is holding that tickles the imagination. You would expect a parent or another scout, but her fingers are interlaced with the swampman [3]. Chalmers, having grown up in the 1970s and been influenced by television and comic book culture, unfolds her own life’s narrative within her sculptural works.

How did you get started in clay? At the University of Manitoba in Canada I was required to take a 3D studio class in ceramics and fit it into my schedule. I completed my undergraduate degree with a major in printmaking, but making three-dimensional forms, and decorating them using relief printmaking techniques, seduced me back to take more ceramics classes after graduating.

How would you describe your work? Tableaux revealing images culled from childhood tales, four-for-a-dollar comic books, movies-of-the-week, and personal experience. My work is a collage of these influences in combination with historical and fanciful elements that diagram my observations about life.

1 Constant Tapping, 2007–8. Ceramic and mixed media, 110 x 518 x 61 cm (42 x 204 x 24 in.) Photograph by the artist.


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2 What I meant to say (Helen Buck), 2007. Clay and mixed media, 101.5 x 94 x 61 cm (40 x 37 x 24 in.). Photograph by the artist. 3 Brownie Meets Mudman (The Lonely Rock) 2010. Clay and mixed media, 140 x 61 x 45.5 cm (55 x 24 x 18 in.). Photograph by the artist.



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revisiting history



What do you want the figure in your work to comunicate?

What is your working process?

I am inherently an explainer and storyteller, and through my work I attempt to map my experience, to give a better understanding of myself and other

How clearly do you want the figure to be read in your work? I create landscapes of vaguely familiar characters that read, at first, as guileless or whimsical but have the effect of a Grimm Brothers’ story, creating the sensation of being cradled and poked at the same time. I hope that the work possesses a quality of earnest playfulness, which then reveals my bittersweet assessment of life.

I want to present a memory of a place, event and/or person, charged with changing emotions. A flawed image from flawed hands, eyes and memory: a part is heightened, another shrinks, presented as if on a stage. A play – partly true, partly of my making. Truth and fiction – leading, then following, and finally the pieces begin to fit together, like the layers of a dream or the rings of a circus. I handbuild earthenware and then glaze, paint, glitter, flock, decal, etc.

4 Constant Vigilance, 2011. Clay and mixed media, 76 x 63.5 x 25.5 cm (30 x 25 x 10 in.). Photograph by the artist. 5 Brownie + Stone, 2010. Clay and mixed media, 43 x 30.5 x 30.5 cm (17 x 12 x 12 in.). Photograph by the artist.


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pattIE chalmers

What are your major influences? There are a lot of ceramic artists who make amazing work, but typically I look to paintings, books, films, and other media for influence. However, if I were to name inspiring figurative ceramic artists that I have spent time looking at, I would have to say Patti Warashina, Robert Arneson, Arthur Gonzalez, Viola Frey and Susan Low-Beer.

I grew up reading comic books and watching cartoons. I was especially drawn to the angst of the Marvel Comic heros – so misunderstood.

I have aways looked at paintings: Lucas Cranach, Paul Gauguin (his European work primarily), Thomas Gainsborough, Diego Velázquez, Jan van Eyck, Johannes Vermeer. Also 20th-century artists: Max Beckman, Hannah Höch, Jim Nutt, Hollis Sigler, Robert Gober and Marisol Escobar. Growing up in the 1970s in front of a television had a huge effect on my aesthetic sensibilities and attention span. I have also been inspired by a long list of books starting with Grimms’ Fairy Tales, Aesop’s Fables and Roald Dahl’s books. Film, too, has fed my love of narrative; I am especially drawn to cinema that breaks with traditional linear storytelling.

6 Even though it is none of your business, sometimes you still want to know, 2011. Clay and mixed media, 45.5 x 30.5 x 18 cm (18 x 12 x 7 in.). Photograph by the artist. 7 Always burning, never burnt, 2010. Clay and mixed media, 56 x 25.5 x 25.5 cm (22 x 10 x 10 in.). Photograph by the artist.




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ESLEY ANDEREGG breaks free from the societal constraints of everyday life and allows his imagination to take centre stage in his whimsical and theatrical sculptural works. Anderegg is a people-watcher, cataloguing ordinary people’s actions during the course of their ordinary lives, and transforming them into intricate and playful sculptural works in which his characters act out imaginary scenes. Anderegg draws inspiration from antique folk art and references traditional ways of working with clay. He uses earthenware clay and various layers of slips and underglazes to create dynamic surface patterns on his pieces.


1 1 Kurosawa’s Dream, 2010. Mixed media, 56 x 53 x 30.5 cm (22 x 21 x 12 in.). Photograph courtesy of the artist. 2 Matador, 2010. Mixed media, 61 x 66 x 25.5 cm (24 x 26 x 10 in.). Photograph courtesy of the artist. 3 The Magician, 2010. Mixed media, 66 x 48 x 30.5 cm (26 x 19 x 12 in.). Photograph courtesy of the artist.



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6 4 Tightrope, 2010. Mixed media, 104 x 81 x 30.5 cm (41 x 32 x 12 in.). Photograph courtesy of the artist. 5 Flying Over Cactus, 2010. Mixed media, 48 x 40.5 x 15 cm (19 x 16 x 6 in.). Photograph courtesy of the artist.



8 6 The Victim, 2010. Mixed media, 117 x 91.5 x 61 cm (46 x 36 x 24 in.). Photograph courtesy of the artist. 7 The Missing Link, 2010. Mixed media, 152.5 x 91.5 x 61 cm (60 x 36 x 24 in.). Photograph courtesy of the artist.

8 The First Human Clone, 2010. Mixed media, 117 x 91.5 x 61 cm (46 x 36 x 24 in.). Photograph courtesy of the artist.


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HRISTYL BOGER focuses on portraying what she refers to as the ‘human animal’ and the difficulties brought on by cultural constraints that don’t allow the internal animalistic persona to exist or be exposed. These explorations bring on the creation of large-scale and beautifully-crafted figurative forms, mythical and magical creatures, influenced by GrecoRoman mythology and tragic allegories, and perhaps by the texts of Marina Sarah Warner, too. Boger’s works are portraits draped in sea monsters and mystery.

Boger prides herself on playing a part in the ceramics tradition – by using the figure in the form of figurines, and creating works covered in blue and white transfers. Her intention is to explore issues of representation, as well as a commitment to the contemporary ceramics practice, whilst simultaneously confronting the complex historical associations of both ceramic objects and figurative sculpture.




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1 Hero, 2010. Glazed white earthenware with lustre, 66 x 56 x 61 cm (26 x 22 x 24 in.) Photograph by Michael Cavenaugh & Kevin Montague. 2 SeaToy, 2007. Glazed white earthenware with lustre and gold decals, 71 x 66 x 40.5 cm (28 x 26 x 16 in.). Photograph by Geoffrey Carr. 3 Waterwings, 2007. Glazed white earthenware with lustre and decals, 66 x 50.5 x 50.5 cm (26 x 20 x 20 in.). Photography by Geoffrey Carr. 4 Swan Float, 2010. Glazed white earthenware, 68.5 x 56 x 56 cm (27 x 22 x 22 in.). Photograph by Michael Cavenaugh & Kevin Montague. 5 Figure with Dolphin, 2007. Glazed white earthenware with lustre, 68.5 x 56 x 56 cm (27 x 22 x 22 in.). Photograph by Michael Cavenaugh & Kevin Montague.





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DITH GARCIA’s work draws you into alluring installations and sculptures. She focuses on the daily onslaught of emotional extortion we endure and the minimal occurrences that transpire each day, and she grafts them into site-specific installations and objects. Her current work derives from what she refers to as ‘contemporary monsters’, influenced by everyday life as well as her experience growing up in a society that has used the hybridisation of humans in art throughout its history. Her work Happy Ugly Scars (2008–9), an installation comprised of a series of drawings and sculptures, represents those of life’s struggles and experiences that leave us with metaphorical scars, be it happy, sad or traumatised, and all of which shape our development as humans [2]. Garcia would like to further explore this direction in her work, demonstrated also in her In Love Keep Them Crossed [1], by creating handbuilt and slipcast sculptures as wall and free-standing works, interspersed with custommade vinyl graphics and laser-cut acrylic and wood objects. By combining unexpected 2D (wall works/custom decals) and 3D (ceramics/ acrylic) elements, the work can extend beyond the surface, allowing the clay to undulate in and out of the gallery walls. Though inspired by raw and personal themes, such as her upbringing and everyday life, Garcia always tries to allow the viewer to bring to the work their own history, memories, and knowledge, to find a personalised meaning.


3 1 In love keep them crossed, 2011. Drawings, ceramic sculptures, laser-cut acrylic and custom vinyl graphics, 210 x 183 x 45 cm (82⅔ x 72 x 17¾ in.). Photograph courtesy of the artist and Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts, TN. 2 Happy Ugly Scars, installation view, 2009–11. Drawings, ceramic sculptures, laser-cut acrylic and custom vinyl graphics, 426 x 304 x 48 cm (167¾ x 119⅔ x 19 in.). Photograph courtesy of the artist and Northern Clay Center, MN.

4 3 Traces of Home II, 2006. Slip cast porcelain, wax and vinyl graphics, dimensions variable. Photograph courtesy of artist and Oxford House Gallery. 4 Robin, Contemporary Mini-Monsters II, 2008. Handbuilt sculpture and underglazes, 20 x 55 x 15 cm (8 x 21⅔ x 6 in.). Held in the collection of the Museum of Aberystwyth University, Wales. Photograph courtesy of the artist.


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5 Disp 200 und rubb x 28 cou 6 Hap view Pho artis MN.


4 5 Displaced without you, 2006. Handbuilt stoneware, underglazes and grey silicone rubber, 42 x 72 x 20 cm (16½ x 28⅓ x 8 in.). Photograph courtesy of the artist. 6 Happy Ugly Scars, installation view (detail), 2009–11. Photograph courtesy of the artist and Northern Clay Center, MN. 5



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First published in Great Britain in 2012 A & C Black Publishers Limited 50 Bedford Square London WC1B 3DP ISBN: 978-1-4081-3250-0 Published simultaneously in the USA by The American Ceramic Society 600 N. Cleveland Ave., Suite 210 Westerville, Ohio 43082, USA ISBN: 978-1-57498-313-5 Copyright © Edith Garcia 2012

CIP Catalogue records for this book are available from the British Library and the US Library of Congress. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means – graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or information storage and retrieval systems – without the prior permission in writing of the publishers. Edith Garcia has asserted her right under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. Typeset in Metaplus Book design by Penny Mills Cover design by Sutchinda Thompson Printed and bound in China This book is produced using paper that is made from wood grown in managed, sustainable forests It is natural, renewable and recyclable. The logging and manufacturing processes conform to the environmental regulations of the country of origin. Cover image: Cynthia Consentino, Wolf Girl III, 2009. Clay, mixed media, 99 x 53.5 x 43 cm (39 x 21 x 17 in.). Photograph by Robert Benns. Title page image: Tom Bartel, Fertility Figure, 2009. Coil-built, vitreous slip, underglaze, multi-fired, presented on a heart-shaped mound of earth, 96.5 x 56 x 76 cm (38 x 22 x 30 in.). Photograph courtesy of Northern Clay Center, MN.

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Ceramics & The Human Figure  

This book profiles a range of international ceramic artists practicing within the fields of installation and sculpture. The book explores th...

Ceramics & The Human Figure  

This book profiles a range of international ceramic artists practicing within the fields of installation and sculpture. The book explores th...