Katharine Morling is a ceramicist who sculpts everyday objects with a creative, cross-media twist: once the clay dries (a process which can take up to several months), she draws on the pieces using an underglaze pen, turning them into three-dimensional, life-sized “drawings.” Among her works are tape measures, sewing machines, and matchboxes — seemingly ordinary items that, when sketched upon, take on a cartoonish, character-filled, and somewhat surreal appearance. As Morling explains on her About page, narrative, intuition, and the embodiment of emotion are important facets to her creations:
“Each piece, on the surface, an inanimate object, has been given layers of emotion and embedded with stories, which are open for interpretation in the viewer’s mind. […] The life size pieces and the unexpectedness of the scale create a slightly surreal experience as you walk through this strange environment. I work very instinctively, one piece leads to the next, I try not to pin down what I am doing or even why. I have to trust and believe that I can communicate through this medium. My searching is never complete; each piece is a journey for answers that are only hinted at, with more questions.” (Source)
As Morling explains in an article written on her work for ELLE Decoration (December 2014, no. 268), her sculptures begin as character-developing, one-minute sketches. She then gives each one “short, Hitchcock-y titles” before working them into clay (Source). Fired without glaze, the works retain the perfect “rough” quality that adds to the illustrated aesthetic. In addition to practical items, Morling’s works also delve into the fantastical, such as sea turtles crawling out of a suitcase or boxes exploding with butterflies. Visit Morling’s website and Facebook page to view more of her work. (Via My Amp Goes to 11)
The artist Stephen Irwin’s work reinterprets the erotic; by scratching away and obscuring unnecessary content from found vintage porn imagery, he constructs a more emotionally climactic vision of love making. Like faded, far away memories of sexual encounters, his images only recall the most poetic and visceral sensations: the insertion of a finger, the flicking of a tongue, private moments of masturbation.
Unlike the work of someone like Von Brandis, Irwin’s images challenge the pornographic inclination to objectify the body, evoking moments of mutual bliss that transcend the material form. Irwin’s hands, limbs, and genitalia stand in for individuals, blurring their identities and ultimately pin-pointing a moment of worshipful self-actualization. The point of orgasm is elevated to spiritual heights when mouths cry out to the heavens. In a particularly sensual piece, the careful insertion of fingers into the vagina harkens back to illustrations of the doubting Thomas fingering the wounds of Christ.
These moments of ecstasy, however, are painfully brief; body parts emerge for an infinite blankness, vanishing just as soon as they appear. A deliberately messy black marker erases the figures, leaving only shadows in its wake; again, a shaded limb fades into whiteness, as if pushed down by a firm hand on the buttocks. The artist’s choice to use vintage images operates as yet another reminder of the temporality of climax.
These images are gloriously unstable and unreliable; for many, it’s impossible to tell if the original pornography was a sketch, painting, or photograph. Here, the lines between fantasy and recollection, between the corporeal and the spiritual, are miraculously indistinguishable. (via Juxtapoz)
Via Colossal: “Sculptor Manuel Martí Moreno lives and works in Valencia, Spain and forms these wonderful figurative pieces out of iron nuts. Via email Moreno says that he is most interested in showing the passage of time, the transience of life, and our collective awareness of our own mortality, seemingly evidenced by the spectre of decay at the edges of his works. You can see more images including installation shots on his blog, and also here. If you liked this, also check out the sculptures of Park Chan-Girl.”
Christian Cuoco is an illustrator and graphic artist working in New York. Cuoco states his fondness of “existentialism, books on improvement, and films by Stanley Kubrick.” He currently works with Gojiberry NYC building websites and does freelance graphic design. His mixed media pop art is inspiring to say the least.
The ceramics of Jess Riva Cooper are gross, majestic, fragile and poetic. Her Viral Series is a collection of clay heads bursting with groups of insects, tree roots, branches, leaves, flowers, stems and buds. Mostly white with a heavy glaze, Cooper subtly decorates areas of her sculptures and adds accented color. The pieces show a beautiful understanding of the circle of life, or rather how things are destroyed and created simultaneously. Cooper talks about how something seen as destructive and parasitic is no different from the form it is overtaking. She treats all areas of life as equal, and each creepy crawly is as beautiful as a lotus flower.
My work, Viral Series, is a continued exploration into the death and regeneration taking place in deteriorating communities. Places and things, once bustling and animated, have succumbed to nature’s mercy. Without intervention, nature takes over and breathes new life into objects, as it does in my sculptures. (Source)
Cooper has researched heavily into different cultures and how this same idea is treated. In most eastern philosophies, the idea that birth and death are part of the same spectrum rings true. She takes that idea further and looks a bit deeper into one culture in particular:
I also study the foundation myths of the Golem and Dybbuk spirits in Yiddish folklore and reinterpret these traditional stories through a female lens. I see a direct parallel between my interest in insidious plant life and a malevolent Dybbuk spirit, which takes over the human body. In both situations a loss of control is suffered as the parasitic entity subsumes the host. (Source)
Cooper’s ceramics remind us that even though things of beauty are there to be admired and celebrated, it is also a fine thing when those things are disrupted and replaced by other things.