I am a potter who is interested in the development of form and the exploration of pattern. My work is wheel thrown and hand built with a gritty terra cotta clay. Surface drawings act as a framework to the pots’ forms with slip work to designate positive and negative space. By layering patterns on top of each other, carving the surface in and scraping the drawings away, I hope to integrate the surface into the form rather than onto the form. These drawings are then highlighted with a bright white porcelain slip. The immediacy of the brushwork mirrors the directness of the drawings, and the dimensionality of the materials completes the link between form and pattern. I look to industrial and architectural situations for formal references and use geometry as a language to communicate these observations.
I rely on the momentum of the artistic process and embrace an ever-changing object, allowing each pot to progress as a response to the last. The objects I choose to make start with an idea of function, I make pots as a parameter, function grounds the work to history and tradition. But, I am mostly excited about the pot as an object, one that can carry beauty and meaning as well as nourishment. Each step I take has its own rate of progression. The forms on the wheel, building the nobs and handles to extend those proportions, the cycle of excess and restraint in the drawings, and the depth of the slip.
Right now in my studio the brushwork is the activity that is most prominently progressing. I find that, as a lamina, each brush stroke carries its own depth. I am practicing restraint in between these brushstrokes, where one can define a shape but obscure another. The slip work starts to bend and disorient the imagery and pattern. My labor is in the pursuit of an object that rests in balance, in beauty, and in nuance. I am interested in the intersection between the current pace of development in our designed world and traditional approaches to materials; clay is the medium I have chosen to navigate this crossroad.
Pots have a versatility depending on their placement, adorning our spaces and contributing to our stories. They are a part of our domestic infrastructure, facilitating rituals of beauty, nourishment, and gathering. I am interested in the history these objects carry from wheel to home and the sentiment gained from their usefulness. I am charmed by the anti-monumental, and challenged by the spatial balance between pottery, architecture, and community.
© Zak Helenske. All Rights Reserved.