Ana Rendich

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Artist’s Statement

I have always been connected to the invisible and visible aspects of human drama, the particular and the universal. Although my paintings and sculptures are my own work, they are not intended to be about me. The subject matter is greater than me as an individual. My studio is like a lab, where space, form and meaning intertwine, shaping and filling my artworks.

I have been exploring the Japanese concept “Ma” (間), a concept embedded in our relationship with our space, internal and external, and how we relate one to another one; as well as the interpretation of time and space, pauses and silences, and the emptiness in a space, full of possibilities. This concept MA is the skeleton of my works, where my art starts. These sculptures, mixed media and paintings emerge from a thought, an infinite path with no endpoint, where resolution is impossible. Hope in the light of loss and displacement is my primary subject. The works are fragments of what has been lost, negated, and postponed. Their structures are a form of reparation, a healing tool, tying together absences and presences, sometimes in a meditative form.

In some of my sculptures, I incorporate resin, because of its reflective or opaque property, but I transform it, leaving my own fingerprints, and colors are mainly a tool that reveals presence. In certain works, the observer can see the ghostly effect generated by the reflection created by the mixed media illustrating the transient and mercurial nature of reality. Upon seeing my art, many find that the colors draw their attention before anything else. The story behind these colors is born in the interplay between these colors, but it is not color itself that matters most to me. Rather, the color is secondary, the whole composition makes the work… Colors and shapes are not separated elements, both are an essential symbiosis. When I make an artwork that contains individual pieces, it is always thinking that each piece must belong to the next artwork, creating a work, where all the pieces share the same space; the togetherness is what makes the work.

My work has been evolving and changing every year, incorporating new media and materials. Sculpture and mixed media has helped me to grow, and it gives me the chance to explore pieces rooted in the human condition, past and present social and historic events. In the WWII pieces, for example, the research in getting the letters from WWII has been a long road, it almost took me two years until I started to work.

The base of my art is bringing presence through absence. There are different types of absences: not only physical absence, but also the lack of the fabric that could make us better human beings. All these have created the need to incorporate other elements, according to the sensibility of each piece, like the use of wood, fabric, metal, yarn and paper, besides oil, silicone, etc. I enjoy immensely the closeness with my materials, that intimacy…the tactile and physical connection, too, aids to create a deep connection with space, form and meaning, leaving all decorative items aside, and helps me to concentrate more in exploration, questioning and contemplation. I see the reflections, materials and surfaces as healing presences, making the invisible visible.

Ana Rendich was born in Argentina and lives and works in Spotsylvania, Viriginia. She attended Instituto Superior de Arte del Teatro Colon, University del Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the National Academy of Design, New York, New York.

Donté K. Hayes

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Artist’s Statement

My research and artwork are focused on the pineapple as a symbol which represents welcoming and hospitality, while also examining issues of access to food, empire, and what constitutes the feeling and or act of being welcomed. Through this research, I have discovered that the tradition of the pineapple as a symbol for hospitality is rooted in slavery and agricultural colonization of South America, the Caribbean, and the Southern United States, in particular, South Carolina and my home state of Georgia. When a new slave ship bringing enslaved Africans docked at the port, the foremen would place a pineapple at the front of the dock to notify a new shipment of enslaved Africans has arrived. This creating the pineapple as a symbol for welcoming. The investigation in the concept of welcoming is also from personal struggles as a black man navigating public spaces and environments and not feeling like I belonged or welcomed. From this research my art practice pulls from my interest in hip-hop culture, history, and science fiction. The artwork references the visual traditions from the Southern United States, Carribbean, South America, and the African continent.

I utilize clay as a historical and creative base material to inform memories of the past. The handling of clay reveals the process and shares the markings of its maker. Ceramics becomes a bridge to conceptually integrate disparate objects and or images for the purpose of creating new understandings and connections with the material, history, and social-political issues. I compare the construction and deconstruction of materials to the remix in rap music and how human beings adapt to different environments and reinvent new identities. These ceramic objects are vessels, each making symbolic allusions to the black body.

The artworks suggest the past, discuss the present, and explores possible futures interconnected to the African Diaspora. While also examining deeper social issues that broaden the conversation between all of humanity.

Donté K. Hayes graduated summa cum laude from Kennesaw State University at Kennesaw, Georgia with a BFA in Ceramics and Printmaking with an Art History minor. Hayes received his MA and MFA with honors from the University of Iowa and is the 2017 recipient of the University of Iowa Arts Fellowship. Donté, is a 2019 Ceramics Monthly Magazine Emerging Artists and Artaxis Fellow. Donté is the 2019 winner of the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art from the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina.

W. A. Ehren Tool

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Artist’s Statement

“I just make cups” is the only statement I am comfortable making about my work.

In the Marine Corps, the gap between what I thought I was doing and what I did was vast and painful. I joined with a desire to serve and I still have that desire. I don’t think anything I do will change the world, and nothing in the world releases me from my obligation to try. Making cups feels like a pretty impotent gesture, in the face of all of the horrors surrounding us. Peace is the only adequate war memorial. Any other “memorial” is at best a failure and usually a lie, promoting war as a good and noble thing. War is not a good thing. I still love the Marine Corps and Marines, which makes it harder to watch young Marines kill and die. Wars never end they ripple and echo forever. After serving in the “91 Gulf War” I have lost my ability to point fingers. The line between good and evil is a line in every human heart. We choose every day. We live with the consequences, even when we are ignorant of how our actions affect others. I believe there is some kind of judgment or karma, even if it is not the satisfying cinematic ending many people might picture. Judgment is not mine.

My opinions about my work and what I do feel unimportant. I just make cups, and if they are ever anything else it is because of the generosity of people who take the time to look at the cups. The cups are only something more if something resonates with the viewer or, better yet, the user of the cup. I am very grateful to people who see something in the cups.

I have given away more than 21,500 cups since 2001.

I hope the cups can be touchstones to start conversations about unspeakable things. My father and grandfather never talked about their wars until I came back from mine. I didn’t understand why they didn’t talk until my son asked “how come you were bad and now you’re good? You were a soldier right?” I didn’t say anything. I changed the subject and held back tears. To be demonized or idolized for something you did or didn’t do in a context you can never explain, by someone you love, is too much. It seems easier to just not talk — to “suck it up” and “move on.”

I just make cups. Making ceramics means I have five hundred thousand to one million years to find a receptive audience for my work. I hope a few of my cups will make it through these times. From my hand to your hand to some point hundreds of thousands of years in the future. Cheers!!! I hope you always have enough to eat and drink….I love you. Blah blah blah

Strength to love, + E

W.A.Ehren Tool was born in Charleston South Carolina in 1970. Raised in Sunny South Central Los Angeles, South Dakota (3 years), then back to Los Angeles, Tool joined the Marine Corps in 1989, serving in Desert Shield and Desert Storm (Gulf War One). Tool was a Marine Embassy Guard in Rome and Paris, 15 months each, and was Honorably Discharged as a Sergeant after just over 5 years of active duty. He attended Pasadena City College, received his BFA from the University of Southern California in 2000, and his MFA from the University of California at Berkeley in 2005. Tool has made and given away over 21,500 cups since 2001. He is married and has one son.

Beth Lo

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Artist’s Statement

My work in ceramics and mixed media collage revolves primarily around issues of family and my Asian-American background. Cultural marginality and blending, tradition vs. Westernization, language and translation are key elements in my work. Since the birth of my son in 1987, I have been drawing inspiration from major events in my family’s history, the day-to-day challenges of parenting, and my own childhood memories of being raised in a minority culture in the United States. I use the image of a child as a symbol of innocence, potential and vulnerability.

Beth Lo makes work in ceramics and mixed media about family, culture and language. Her Good Children vessels and sculptures have been exhibited internationally and she has been the recipient of a United States Artist Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship, Montana Arts Council Individual Artist Grant and an American Craft Museum Design Award. She is also a children’s book illustrator and professional bass player. She retired after 30 years of teaching ceramics at the University of Montana in 2016.

Eva Kwong

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Artist’s Statement

“Love Between the Atoms” refers to the attraction between the protons and the electrons in an atom. I see this attractive force as something that bonds us all together in this world. It is this attractive force which forms bonds at the subatomic level which makes thing work in the physical world that we experience. It is this attractive force that enables us to build forms with clay and to draw people together and build relationships with each other. In many ways, mutual attraction of one form or another is what enables us to connect and create interactions on microcosmic as well as macrocosmic levels, from the physical to the emotional.

I am interested in the interconnection of the myriad of layers in the world, from microcosm to macrocosm. Maybe it is because I grew up with both eastern and western cultures. I was brought up with the traditional chinese concept of yin and yang that underlies all life forms and energies. This was discussed every day by my grandmother, who also passed on to me the joy of making things. Growing up in Hong Kong and New York, I learned to look at everything through the lens of both cultures.

This interest in opposite ways of perception, the intertwining of dualities, has informed all my work for several decades since I was student. I am interested in the juxtaposition of mass/space, land/air, solid/hollow, male and female forms. I feel I am a hybrid hovering between opposites.

My work-study experience at the Rhode Island School of Design Nature Lab sparked my continued interest in forms and concepts from nature. Most of my inspirations for my work come from my direct observation of things in nature and within my life. Often it starts from a question or thought about some human experience; for example, pondering about how our bodies function under the skin, or fertility, and mortality.

I like to make things. It is my way of experiencing and understanding the world through my own filter. It is like ”tapping,” a term used by the Australian bushmen to refer to a sense of an animal or water nearby. It is a gut-felt, intuitive impulse to puts things that I feel, think about, question, or observe in my life into concrete form.

My artwork is a way to understand myself and the interpenetration of the worlds within and around us all.

Eva Kwong was born in Hong Kong and moved to New York as a teenager, where she thought of the visual language of art as another universal language. Her sculptures reflect her bi-cultural background and her interests in natural forms and microbes. Eva received her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and her MFA from the Tyler School of Art. She has been awarded grants from the National Endowment For the Arts, Ohio Art Council, Arts Midwest, PA. Council on the Arts, NCECA, and the McKnight Foundation.

Christopher Adams

Artist’s Statement

I utilize biological concepts including speciation, convergence and mimicry to create sculptural works of organic abstraction. The sculptures suggest a variety of creatures, but not a specific organism. In the concept that drives my art making, a pioneering organism has entered an untapped environment, where it differentiates rapidly without departing too dramatically from its original form. The sculptures of porcelain, terra cotta, and stoneware are fired over a wide range of temperatures with a variety of glazes. In addition to making art, I work as a dermatologist. I pay attention therefore to skin surface in my art; and I utilize shiny, gnarly, and matte metallic finishes to evolve the skin surfaces.

Christopher Adams was born in Medford, MA in 1972. A ceramist most of his life, he also pursued his passion for science in college, graduating magna cum laude from Harvard University with a B.A. in organismic and evolutionary biology. During his time at Harvard, he was also artist-in-residence at their Ceramics Program. In 2004 he graduated from Columbia University of Physicians & Surgeons. He is a practicing dermatologist as well as an artist. His medical practice strongly influences his work. His solo exhibitions include: Garvey|Simon Art Access, Hosfelt Gallery, Ricco Maresca, Greenwich House (all New York), and Harvard University. He is represented in New York by Garvey|Simon Art Access.

Editors’ Notes (Posit 11)

 

Welcome to September, and to Posit 11!

It is a special thrill to introduce the masterful poetry and prose Bernd and I have gathered for this issue. Not only has another summer come and gone, but we are in the last stages (if not throes) of an American election cycle in which the complacency of most notions of “normalcy” have been shattered, giving rise to an appropriately pervasive anxiety about the depth and scope of the humanly possible. In its own provocative and evocative ways, the work in this issue addresses that anxiety, and even musters some degree of optimism. For tragedy rendered inseparable from the beauty of its vehicle, consider the stark profundity of new work by Michael Palmer and Fady Joudah; the disturbing resonance of two parables by Marvin Shackelford and Eric Wilson; or the tender melancholy of verse by Jeffrey Jullich, Stephen Massimilla, and Simon Perchik. For an inspiring balance of critique and optimism, take a look at Sharon Mesmer’s tragic yet emancipatory tributes to undervalued women poets, Sheila Murphy’s inimitable and ineffable pull-no-punches constructs, Sharon Dolin’s disciplined frolics, ambitiously braiding tribute and lampoon, or Anne Gorrick’s high-octane mash-ups of web-commerce parlance examined and re-examined to reveal rich veins of resonance. And on the brighter side, bask in Felino Soriano’s linguistically untethered odes to transformation.

Whether you are absorbed by the anxiety of our historical moment or weary of its seep, I hope you’ll take some moments to explore:

the tightly packed wit and wisdom of Sharon Dolin’s allusive riffs on Conceptismo, W. C. Williams’ So Much Depends, Niedecker’s ‘condensery,’ and the fraudulence of linguistic obscurantism;

the looping logic of Anne Gorrick’s expansive assemblages, artistic antidotes to our day-to-day “doses of forgetting” the “fine tunings built into” these rocking, rollicking litanies in which “invisible empires of products, fireflies and songs add to the beauty;”

Fady Joudah’s profound and miraculous condensations, with their masterfully chiseled, spare, and haunting visions of oppression and its internalization (“Election Year Dream”) sanctuary in the face of damage (“Monastery”) and the devastation of love (“Coda: A Fragment”);

Jeffrey Jullich’s grimly beautiful constructs, evoking the hazard, sorrow, and insignificance of existence as revealed by the “metamorphosis of seraphim,” “Nostradamus contradictions,” and “a cloud/hung between my life—and life itself” in which “intelligence is only – a fraction – a niche for omniscience;”

the mystery and beauty of Stephen Massimilla’s chiseled lyrics, gesturing towards the elusive and tragic lightness of love, loss, and existence itself, in which “so many little masks (marks, tasks) / make a life” until one is reluctant “to come down from the lightfastness / of this insomnia high;”

Sharon Mesmer’s lyrical tributes to women poets of the Americas which, by “beating all sorrows/into beauty” themselves fulfill the determination to be “no mere witness/to inertia” by evoking, among other notions of liberation, the freedom of radical departure — in what her fans will recognize as a masterful departure from the pyrotechnical virtuosity of her signature Flarfian poetics;

Sheila E. Murphy’s confidently quiet, powerfully enigmatic new works evoking the intimacies of existence anchored by “the palpable act of witness, witnessing” in which “pounce marks levitate a posse / of connect points” in our appreciation of her bracing linguistic montage;

the incomparable music of Michael Palmer’s austere and profound masterpieces of compression, sternly confronting us with the tragedy and horror of a world — our world — in which a child is “set afire / before blindered eyes / a world’s eyes” and authors “lost at sea / in a storm of words” stand idly by as their “books consume . . . the fire”;

Simon Perchik’s moving lyrics of love, loss, and memory, gently guiding us to “listen / the way all marble is crushed” and witness how “inside each embrace // the first thunderclap and shrug / no longer dries”;

Marvin Shackelford’s haunting parable of shipwreck, survival, and friendship, with its “reversed exploration” of the great parable, Before the Law, replacing Kafka’s eternally-withheld judgment with rescue, but, gratifyingly, perhaps not redemption;

Felino Soriano’s “relocated” lyrics, as musical as they are disjunctive, enacting the generative power of the transformations of which they sing; “alters” “of improvised becoming” in which the day is “a dangle of marbled light, an / algebra of sun” for the reader to gratefully absorb;

and the disturbingly resonant infinite regress powering Eric G. Wilson’s “Bowl,” ruled by the labyrinthine, archetypal, Escher-esque logic of nightmares.

Thank you, as always, for reading!

Susan Lewis

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Welcome to the visual art of Posit 11!

Christopher Adams’ background in biology and science informs these environmental installations of ceramic sculpture. He creates small universes of hundreds of individual elements reminiscent of creatures from the biological world, as filtered through Adams’ imagination. Installed on walls painted in brilliant, deeply saturated colors, they seem to vibrate with energy, transporting us into another dimension.

Yura Adams works in a diverse vocabulary of forms united by her nuanced and thoughtful vision of the world. Based on both scientific and intuitive observation of the natural world, this work encompasses a lovely tension between loose drawing and complex patterning. Her use of rich and beautiful color reinforces this dynamic.

Kate Brown’s solidly painted compositions address one of the basic constructs of painting – the push and pull between positive and negative space. Using a carefully controlled palette of color, she has created an exploration of figure and ground that transcends the academic idea and emerges as glorious paintings. Big gestures are offset by architectural spaces. These works are luscious and bursting with energy.

In John Hundt’s hilarious and odd collage pieces, we see a world of biology and evolution gone strangely awry. Unlikely combinations of creatures are meticulously constructed from Hundt’s trove of imagery. Building upon the grand tradition of Surrealist collage, he has created a world of creatures found (hopefully) only in dreams.

With intricate and delicate etched lines, Renee Robbins explores the biology of the ocean. Her etchings, all based on actual creatures, evoke the undersea world caught in mid-motion. Her images are simultaneously scientific and dreamily ethereal. Rendered in softly psychedelic tones, they are like specimens on view through Robbins’ artistic microscope.

I hope you enjoy!

Melissa Stern

Matt Nolen

Artist’s Statement

As a painter, architect and storyteller, clay provides the means by which I can marry my loves: the painted surface, three dimensional form and narrative content. Ceramics gives me the language to communicate my stories to a world audience. The themes of my early work have included a broad range of social, political and psychological subjects.

Most recently I have turned to the figure as form departing from the lavishly painted vessels and tiled environments of previous works. In doing so the stories I am telling have become more personal and often are informed by the inner landscape of self: notions of shelter that explore what we protect and keep private vs. that which we choose to reveal, escape through dreams, and contemporary takes on ancient Greek and Roman portrait busts and the load bearing caryatid and atlas. I have also expanded my use of sculptural materials to include found objects, metal, wood and stone.

My figures tell the stories of those who are challenged by conflicts and are in the midst of emotional or psychological transitions. It is life lived within the complexity of these “margins” that interests me the most.

Matt Nolen is a studio artist living and working in New York City. Trained as a painter and architect, Nolen’s work includes sculptural objects and architectural installations using clay and mixed media. His work has been exhibited internationally and is in numerous private and public collections including the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, NYC, The Museum of Arts and Design, NYC, The Newark Museum, NJ, The Houston Museum of Fine Art, TX, The de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA, and The Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY.

Nolen’s work has been written about and reviewed in many periodicals and books including The New York Times, American Ceramics, Ceramics Art and Perception, Masters of Craft, Confrontational Clay, Postmodern Ceramics and Painted Clay. He has been awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, Mid Atlantic Foundation (regional NEA) Fellowship and international residencies in Israel and China. His residency at the Kohler Co.’s Art/Industry Program resulted in a handmade public washroom that has been named “Best Restroom in America” by the Cintas Corp. and among “The 10 Best Bathrooms in the World” by the Travel Channel. He has recently served as President of the Board of Trustees for Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Newcastle Maine and is Adjunct Professor of Art at New York University and Ceramics Area Coordinator at Pratt Institute. His work is represented by Stephen Romano Gallery, NY. http://www.nolenstudios.com

Matt Mitros

Artist’s Statement

My work focuses on the creation of illusory acts of tension within a forced fusion between what is seemingly organic in form/behavior and what is clearly machined. The Organic, epitomized by my use of rough surfaces and plant-like shapes, is determined by Nature –in various states of decay. The Machined, as suggested by the clean lines of the slip-cast objects and the architectural resin panels, is fabricated by the rules of Man -products of our intent. Both, however, can be equally represented as natural. The machined object is the result of our ability to operate within the parameters of natural systems. The organic object is an agent that symbolizes a moment within these cyclical systems. The difference between these two lies within their inherent goals: the organic is predicated by a struggle for survival, whereas the machined is predicated for efficiency.

Matt Mitros was born in Philadelphia, PA. Upon completing his BFA in Ceramics at Penn State University, he was an Artist-In-Residence at Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts as well as the Archie Bray Foundation. Mitros completed a post-baccalaureate from the University of Illinois and holds an MFA from the University of Washington. He has taught ceramics and sculpture at the University of Washington, South Seattle Community College, Lakeside Upper School, Kennesaw State University, and is currently a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Alabama. In 2008, Mitros was an Artist Trust GAP (Grant for Artist Projects) recipient funded by the City of Seattle. His work has been featured in Art in America, Art LTD, Clay Times, Ceramics Monthly, and City Arts Magazine, as well as the book 500 Figures in. Mitros has exhibited work throughout North America and Europe, and recently finished a residency position at Red Lodge Clay Center. Mitros currently lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Kevin Snipes

Artist’s Statement

Primarily I think of myself as a storyteller, submerged in the vivid passionate ardent fervent articulation of the ordinary.

Kevin Snipes was born in Philadelphia, but grew up mostly in Cleveland, Ohio. He is a full time wanderer, maker of exquisite objects. He gets his smarts from the streets but also managed to learn a thing or two at a couple of fine educational institutions. He holds a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art (1994) and did graduate work at the University of Florida, in Gainesville, Florida (2003). From there he participated in several short-term artist residency programs, including the Clay Studio, in Philadelphia and Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts, in New Castle, Maine. He was also a visiting artist at Louisiana State University, in Baton Rouge and did a two year residency at the Archie Bray Foundation in 2008 through 2010, in Helena, Montana. His most recent residencies (2013) took him to Vallauris, France and to C.R.E.T.A. in Rome, Italy. Kevin currently maintains a studio in Cleveland, OH. Exhibiting both nationally and internationally, Kevin has exhibited as far away as Jingdezhen, China.