studio visits

Yesterday, all of the art was pulled from the shelves and given a bath to get the dust and spider webs off of them. All the shelves were wiped down and everything was put back again in a new eye pleasing arrangement. Why go through all this work when the art is not up for an exhibition? Because I’m hoping that you’ll stop by the studio for a visit and I want everything to look good when you come by! Artists spend a lot of time alone in their studios working away and most will welcome a studio visit and a chance to talk about what they are doing one-on-one with you. There’s no reason to wait for an art show to contact an artist about their work. So, feel free to drop me an email and arrange a time to come by… looking forward to seeing you at the studio!
Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt

What is it?

Visual artists are often asked to explain their work through a tedious bit of copy called an “Artist Statement”. Its just about the most dreadful thing to have to create as an artist and its the first thing any application or gallery or curator will ask you to provide. Ultimately, you need it, and you need it to explain clearly and concisely: why do you make your art?, what inspires you and what is it?  The other thing is that your artist statement is always evolving, just as your work evolves, so you can’t just write this up and use it for the rest of your artistic life, you need to update, write and re-write…

In your head, you instinctively know the answers to these questions, but can verbalize them all in a few minutes? Probably not. It takes me the better part of a day to create these few precious lines and I’ll still revisit them days or weeks later to make sure I’m still making sense. BUT, there is an upside to this process. Once you slug through all the deep thoughts of your art and ideas, you appear on the other side with some very clear ideas about who you are and what you do- this is so empowering as an artist. For me, I find it clears away some of the clutter and allows me to focus on what is really important to my work- from a technique, a conceptual idea or just my purpose.  It also gives the viewer/buyer of your work a story or an understanding of what your work is about, and if you can tell your story clearly, they can spread your story clearly to others. So I invite you to read my latest artist statement, feedback is the best medicine for a new statement, so please click the link: About and let me know what you think!

On this same topic, I encourage you to watch Shea Hembrey’s Ted Talk on “How I became 100 artists” where he impersonates 100 fictional artists for an exhibition and needs to create a statement and body of work for each artist – his guidelines include the fact that his grandmother needs to understand what each artist’s work is about. Its very clever, so enjoy!

 

Series Showcase: Nest Series

I started the Nest Series around 2010 and only recently stopped making pieces from this series. They began as a technical challenge to cleanly trap one form inside of another and also to pay attention to the inside of the vessel. Traditionally the inside of clay forms are hidden from sight, in these pieces I love being able to see through the work, it creates a visual lightness in a medium that is physically heavy. In the course of making this series, I experimented with every type of hole, shape and possibility I could think of to find what was the most successful way of conceptually expressing the balance between protecting and trapping. Each nest has an item that is exposed to the viewer through its outer shell but also shielded by its webbing. In some, the inner items are attempting to escape but are then left vulnerable to the elements, I think that this is a human condition we all feel at one point or another. If you’d like even more info about this series, you can watch a video where I talk about the process of building and the conceptual aspects of trapping forms.

These pieces are hand-built, hand-carved and created with a process that fuses the inner pieces to the outer. They are made from high fired stoneware and each piece is original and unique. You can purchase pieces from the nest series in the SHOP while they last.

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | nest series

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | nest series Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | nest series

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

inspiration in exploration

I am very lucky to live in a place as beautiful as Santa Cruz County, every corner is filled with natural inspiration for artists. I try to take advantage of that everyday, typically in the form of a dog walk. My furry companion Indigo and I hit the beach, the creek, the woods- pretty much everyday we’re outside exploring somewhere, finding interesting things to inspire. Today I found a collection of bones that had washed up in a tangle of kelp from sea birds and seals. The forms are beautiful and sculptural. I brought a few back to the studio and took a look at them next to the work I’ve been making for my bone series. The image on the far right is my work in clay, the image next to it is a bird bone, the similarities are striking. This time spent exploring the natural world is so integral to my work, I love that my art takes me out of the studio as much as nature brings me back in and creates a working balance for me.

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | inspiration from explorationJenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | inspiration from explorationJenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | inspiration from explorationJenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | inspiration in exploration

 

 

 

 

 

 

Land of Fire and Water

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | land of fire & waterThis January I was so lucky to sneak in a quick trip to the Big Island and visit my sweetest friend Susun Gallery who runs Artschool on the Beach in Kona. (If you’re going on vacation there, look her up. She’ll teach you how to take a bit of your vacation home in a painting you made!)

I brought a few small sculptures with me and with cameras in hand we adventured off to the north coast near the town of Hawi and hiked down the cliffs to a beautiful black sand beach covered in lava rock. We played with rocks and sticks, challenged the waves timing and strength and acted like artists- oooh-ing and ahhh-ing over the beauty of it all. I didn’t know what to expect, but the beautiful contrast of my bright red glaze against the satiny black sand was a perfect match. I’d love to go back and do a larger installation with more pieces, but that will have to wait for another day. You can check out some images of the spark sculptures in the land of fire & water here…

Everybody’s Ocean: Wave II

Celebrate the opening of Wave II of Everybody’s Ocean in the Solari Gallery at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History. Opening reception of Wave II: Free First Friday, March 6th 5-9 PM. Click here for more information.  Words of thanks by curator Justin Hoover at 7:30. Everybody’s Ocean is a massive crowd-sourced exhibition featuring artwork about the ocean. An installation from my Bone Series has been a part of this exhibition as one of the “anchored” pieces of the show and this has been an incredible exhibit to be a part of. Come see for yourself!

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | bone series | museum of art and history
The ocean represents anything from womb to tomb. We personify it as a wrathful god, a seductive spirit, or an indomitable force. The four oceans of the world cover 71% of the Earth’s surface and link us to primordial pasts. The ocean is a living, shared space and one of the greatest unexplored mysteries of the world.  Everybody interprets the ocean in different ways.

Series Showcase: Lichen

In the spirit of revisiting older but still very relevant work, I’d like to take the time to showcase some of my series, this time the lichen series. Sometimes work comes and goes in the studio so quickly you don’t have much time to live with it, but these pieces have graced the shelves of the studio for a while and I’ve gotten to spend time thinking about them and why I’ve made them.

jenni ward ceramic sculpture | lichen seriesjenni ward ceramic sculpture | lichen series jenni ward ceramic sculpture | lichen series

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secretly, I’m kind of happy that this piece hasn’t sold yet, I really love this guy and hope it goes to a good home someday! Its up on my studio wall, so I get to check it out all day while I’m working.  It was kind of a spontaneous build, so the longer I live with it, the more I get to think about why I made it.

While I was working on it all of the parts were laying flat on the table and they had the appearance of slick whale bodies with crustaceans growing on their skin- it seemed very of the sea. But as soon as the pieces went on the wall the feel about them changed to growing plants or a forest of burnt trees that had died and new growth was taking over and hence how the lichen series was named. I also really love how activated all the spaces in-between each piece is. This series is a study in the balance of duality, the pieces play with ideas of death and regrowth, the power of negative space and the contrast of black and white. Each lichen growth is fused in place by the glazing process in the kiln. These pieces are hand-built from high fired stoneware and each piece is original and unique.

If you’d like to add pieces from lichen series to your collection, click for more information.

Have art, will travel

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | in the field | rock candy seriesI recently took a camping/adventure road trip to the desert with my husband and whenever possible I always add a selection of my sculptures to the packing list. This time I brought a box of about 50 pieces from my brand new rock candy series. These pieces are designed to be wall mounted (and maybe will be one day!) but I had a suspicion that I could hide the plain backsides of them when I arranged them in the field. The rock formations I found had large cracks and layers to them formed from ancient magma and I thought they were the perfect place to put these little colorful gems. Check out more picture here…

Have you collected art from me?

When you come to the studio to buy art or order art online at the shop, I pack it up and happily send it on its way to you but rarely do I get to see where my art ends up and lives out the rest of its life. Will you show me?Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | have you collected art from me?

If you’ve collected my art, this is a call for you to send me photos of where you’ve put my art in your home or garden space. I would love to share your photos here on a future blog post. I’m hoping to inspire others to see how art can enhance their space and make everything just feel good. I know that we don’t need art in the same way that we need food and clothing but I really believe that we need art to help us feel connected to others and the world at large. My home isn’t filled with stuff (I’m a minimalist at heart!) but it does have its fair share of art and those pieces are thoughtfully collected and some of the most important things that I own. Surrounding myself with art instead of stuff, means that everything has a story, a place or a person attached to it and I love that. I hope that my work gives you the same feeling and becomes a connected part of your home and life.  I’m looking forward to seeing our photos of my work in their new homes!

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | have you collected art from me?

My share: This is my dining room table/multi-purpose space/occasional office, I keep a rotating selection of found objects and artwork here all the time. The figurative sculpture is from my Haitian artist friend Racine Polycarpe, the print from my sister-in-law Kristen O’Neill, the fish painting I just picked up from my friend Susun Gallery in Hawaii, a ceramic bowl from a village in Mexico, a copper stamp for batik wax printing that I found at the flea market, a stick with amazing textures my husband found in the Mojave Desert, a glass doorknob from the house I grew up in, a bowl of corks from every celebration, a small Nest from my own work and some seashells and rocks from my local explorations sitting on a stone plate. This is what I surround myself with, this is what inspires me. What about you?

 

A few photo specs:
Take a minute to look at your lighting and shadows and try to capture your shot at the best timing for lighting. Move extraneous stuff (water bottle, tv remote etc…) out of the shot. I will resize and edit the photos for you, so just send me what you’ve got and also let me know if its ok to use your name along with your photos in my future posts and any other info you want to share about the pieces you’ve collected. Please email your photos to jw@jenniward.com