I am a potter who is interested in the development of form and the exploration of pattern. I look to industrial and architectural situations for formal references and use geometry as a language to communicate these observations. My work is wheel thrown and hand built with gritty terra cotta clay. Carved drawings act as a framework to the pots’ form 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, the goal is to integrate the surface into the form. These drawings are then highlighted and sometimes obscured with a bright white porcelain slip. The immediacy of the brushwork mirrors the directness of the drawings, and the dimension of the materials completes the link between form and surface.
In the studio, labor grounds my energy and propagates new ideas and new progressions. Lidded jars are a constant pursuit in my studio. Jars, as an object, touch every aspect that intrigues me providing technical challenges, formal potentials, while remaining versatile in their function and placement. New forms arise from the ideas that these jars generate. The objects I choose to make start with an idea of function, this places the work within a craft tradition and a history of objects that is ancient. My focus is a pot’s potential as an object that can carry beauty and meaning as well as nourishment. To achieve this, I pause at every step in the process, relishing the job and focusing my attention on the details. The slip work bends and disorients the visual surface, the drawings create a depth of structure that can be peered into, and the forms hold mass and volume.
I am curious about the perception of things; stories, images, objects. Their potential is infinite as interpretation changes from one individual to another. We are all living our own realities and the way we absorb our surroundings is uniquely our own. I am in pursuit of an object that offers many vantage points. 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. But they also contribute to the compositions of our interior spaces. I am interested in the history these objects carry from wheel to home to heirloom, 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. My labor is in the pursuit of an object that rests in balance, in beauty, and in nuance. I work at an intersection between the current pace of our designed world and traditional approaches to materials; clay is the medium I have chosen to navigate this crossroad.
© Zak Helenske. All Rights Reserved.