Video: Keeping your art clean

A few people were worried about keeping their sculptures clean and were surprised to find out how I do it. This video shows two wet methods of cleaning your ceramics and I find them to be the most efficient. Either under the faucet at the sink or with the garden hose. Don’t worry ceramic is tough, it can handle it. Then set your pieces on a thick towel to air dry and your art will be sparkling again.

But if you want a dry method, I’d recommend a dry fluffy paintbrush as a great way to remove larger debris like leaves and cobwebs. Then hit them with some canned air to get all the dust off – easy peasy. Hope this helps keep your collection shining!

Video: Time Lapse of Plankton Bloom Installation

Beginning with a projected image on the wall, gives a starting place for the installation to launch from. The layout is based on satellite imagery of a plankton bloom happening in the Southern Ocean, near McMurdo Sound in Antartica. Ceramic pieces inspired by the skeletal structures of plankton were added to the wall giving it shape and dimension. Once the main form was installed the rest was done intuitively, adding one piece at a time and then stepping back to see it’s impact on the overall form. This piece is 30′ long by 8′ high and was installed over several days.

Come see it in person at Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery on the UCSC campus

Sept 20 – Dec 3, opening reception Sept 24 from 5-8

video: evolution of an installation

If you come by my studio this year for Open Studios, you’ll get to see this piece in person, but I thought it’d be fun to share a bit of the process making it. I actually wish I took more photos in process, but hopefully this very quick video gives an idea of it’s evolution.

The composition is mimicking the rings of a droplet into water and it’s composed of around 700+ porcelain pieces that are inspired by the bone structure of radiolarians (single cell planktons). Some of the pieces are mounted directly on the wall and some are attached to metal stems so that they can float off the wall, creating depth and casting shadows. If you watch the video closely or repeatedly you’ll notice that some pieces were removed and more space was given between the ripples, sometimes these are things that you can’t predict before you’re actually installing the work. I still need to clean the chalk lines off the wall but the more I live with this piece the more I love it. Hope you all get to come see it in person!

Video: Work In Progress – making plankton parts

Just a quick, fun video of each of the steps of making my radiolarian (single cell planktons) inspired porcelain parts. Starting with a thin slab of porcelain clay, I roll it even thinner with a rolling pin, then cut out the forms and scrape the edges even thinner with a metal rib tool so they are translucent when they are fired. Next I perforate the circles with even more circles using an x-acto knife, smooth each of the holes with a bit of water on both sides and then set them aside to dry and eventually be fired in the kiln. Hundreds and hundreds of parts later they will be used to create a large scale wall installation, but for now I’m just going to be over here making parts… lots of parts. Enjoy!

Video: Thanks Plankton

I’ve been sharing this video individually to people whom I’m trying to explain what my upcoming show is all about and why I’ve become fascinated with plankton beyond their beautiful skeletal structures. The video has gotten quite a few.. ‘huh’s and ‘I did not know that’s and ‘wow’s… so I thought I’d just share it with all of you. It’s quick, entertaining and educational… what more could you ask for?!?

And if you get really inspired, there are more videos about specific types of plankton with beautiful imagery here at the Plankton Chronicles. Enjoy!

Video: Gallery Tour of This is the Anthropocene

If you missed seeing this show in person, here’s your chance to check out the exhibit with a full gallery tour of This is the Anthropocene, which included works by Cynthia Siegel, Shannon Sullivan, Jenni Ward, Susan Whitmore & Wesley Wright. If you want to learn more about each of the artists work and the curator’s vision for the show, see below…

Curators Statement:

The Anthropocene is defined as the current geological age during which human activity has been the dominant influence on the climate and the environment. Curators Cynthia Siegel and Jenni Ward chose to bring together a diverse group of artists whose work has not been grouped together before to explore this concept. The five artists are responding within the themes of Animal, Agriculture, Landscape, Water and Atmosphere, from multiple viewpoints. Using their current bodies of work, the artists have challenged themselves to deepen their consideration of these relevant topics.

While diverse in style and approach, the artists find commonality in the medium of ceramics, with each artist’s inspiration from nature, and with their desire to use their work to bring awareness to the planet’s current state of peril. 

For tens of thousands of years, humans have used the abundant earth resource, clay, to increase their chances of survival. From primitive vessels to applications within the high tech industry, clay has paralleled human development and advancement. This shared history makes ceramics a uniquely relevant medium of expression for this exhibition. Each artist uses this humble medium to reveal a unique point of view regarding the impact of the Anthropocene.

As a parallel to the human struggle for survival, Cynthia Siegel is drawn to the tenacity of the bristlecone pine trees that have endured for thousands of years, both because of and despite their fragile environment. With textured surfaces that reflect the intersection of time, weather, growth, and decay, Siegel’s sculptures convey the inseparability of man and nature.  

Using aerial and microscopic imagery as a point of interpretive departure, Shannon Sullivan explores human intervention in the landscape. Patterns found in agricultural landscapes, shifting geologic boundaries, and migrating oceanic phenomena intermingle in her work. 

Through her abstract umbel flower installations, Jenni Ward’s work speaks about the disconnection that we have with nature, the unsustainability of monoculture farming, as well as the global issue of food insecurity.

Aspects of attraction and repulsion influence much of the work of Susan Whitmore, who regards light variations and magnifications, varied textures and colors, and the creatures that inhabit the depths, as inspirational and sometimes frightening. Whitmore explores how changing our actions will enable the planet to provide a hospitable existence for all species.

The ornate surfaces of Wesley Wright’s contemplative and noble animals respond to mass extinctions and recent losses of terrestrial and aquatic habitats, yet they also portray species interconnectedness and the hope for continued survival. Some of Wright’s sculptures hold an environment within a glass dome on its body, creating an alternate world of protection and safety. 

Each of the artists included in This Is The Anthropocene has a keen interest in understanding and interpreting the inner workings and the wonder they find in their everyday life as a part of the natural world. Driven by personal experience, they have created works for contemplation and discussion, empowering the viewer to consider and even question their own relationship with nature and our changing planet. 

Cynthia Siegel & Jenni Ward

It Arrived!

My third art catalog ‘inspiration through exploration’ has just arrived!

It will be available at Open Studios this October and in the online shop soon!

Video: Virtually Meeting the Artists

When you go visit the Price Sculpture Forest and start to explore the trails and sculptures, you’ll also want to log on to their wifi. Normally you’d think about your time in the forest being a tech-free space but here, each piece of art has a QR code on the sign for the artwork. If you scan the code with your phone, it will launch you to a webpage about the artist, their work and a video of them sharing their work in their own words- it’s kind of like getting a personal virtual tour by each artist as you make your way from piece to piece. It is such a great way to get more out of your visit and to explore the meaning, methods and concepts behind each of the sculptures. Below is my video….enjoy!

video: work in progress: Spore Patterns Installation

I ~think~ I have enough parts for my site specific Spore Patterns installation at the Price Sculpture Forest on Whidbey Island in Washington. I’ve lost the official count of parts but there’s definitely more than 300 pieces here, some are still raw clay, some glazed but not fired and most are finished. Next steps are to start working on the steel rods that will support the ceramic pieces to get them floating off the ground. Getting excited!

Video: Porcelain Nachos

Just a quick behind the scenes video showing just how strong these very thin pieces of porcelain actually are. When I put them in the kiln, I just pile them up, but because of the vitreousness of the clay, they stick together just a little, kinda like porcelain nachos. Then they need to be popped apart so I can use these pieces in other projects. Enjoy!