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Proximity 2019

The Clay CoOp

The exhibition Proximity was created to showcase the works of artists local to the D.C. Metro area.  As the fourth annual installation of the show opens, we find ourselves once again surrounded by striking and diverse works submitted by some of the most talented members of the ceramic community.  Each year the Clay CoOp carefully selects a fellow artist to jury the show with the hopes of creating a unique lens with which to reflect upon the progress of our own community.  This year we are lucky to have Judit Varga’s eye to guide us through the truly impressive collection that has been gathered.  We hope to provide all of the guests with a place to converge, relax, interpret, question, and engage with the artists, and we look forward to seeing you for years to come. 

1. Shawn M. Grove, Leesburg, VA
Wood fired with carbon cooling,Salt glazed with natural fly ash
The perception of beauty can be found in nature with its predictable, yet still unpredictable patterns. The beauty of the wood fired process is the creation of one of a kind pieces of work that can never be replicated in its entirety due to the chaotic flux of the fire. Chaos is order disguised within disorder and such is the wood fired process. Utilizing elements of nature including raw earthen clay, ash glaze, wood, and fire the production of an organically based art form is achievable. I believe strongly in the interaction and experience of humans with art forms, as art in its earliest creations was interwoven with daily life. Wood Fired Pottery achieves these ideals through functional wares and sculptural innovations.  

2. Lisa Battle, Columbia, MD
Handbuilt from stoneware clay, sprayed glaze, wood fired to cone 10 in Noborigama kiln
My hand-built sculptures explore organic forms that are reminiscent of the sensual curvilinear grace of natural landscapes. I am inspired by patterns found in nature--in shifting sands created by winds and receding waves; in the American southwest among desert canyons and formations of weathered rock eroded by wind and water; and in the shapes of plants and the human body. I pare down these natural shapes to evoke aspects of the natural world without specifically representing them, leading to a sense of ambiguity that I find is central to human experience. My sculptures are exposed to the transformative powers of wind and fire in the kiln. The wood firing process leads to surfaces with depth and subtle variations of texture, imparted by the movement of wind and fire through the kiln. The result is both a visual and tactile experience in which the surface is inherently integrated with the form.

3. Joe Hicks, Mt. Rainier, MD
Stoneware, slip, shino glaze, ceramic decal, Cone 10 Reduction
My vessels are evidence of persistent inquiry, and the development of new aesthetic principles and processes through investigating the relationships involving the physical nature of clay materials, form and compositional design, and the firing process.  
I control the radiant energy of fire to transcendentally engage with, and decorate the surfaces of my vessels. This interaction between atmosphere and material is unpredictable, and provides endless investigation in colliding randomness with structure, challenging my ideas of control.  These vessels become individual artifacts capturing and forever displaying the alliance between process and material.  

4. Ray Bogle, Huntingtown, MD
Light and Dark
Naked Raku
Working with clay brings me peace.  This peace comes from working with my hands to quietly and gently guide the clay into simple but elegant forms that are pleasant to view and hold.   While I have control over the forms, I have to let go and trust the firing process where flame, fumes, and smoke work to help each piece “decorate itself” with random but interconnected flowing black lines, dots of smoke and/or wisps of color.   Each vessel is complete when it brings peace to a new home.

5. J. S. Herbert, Arlingtion, VA
Large Ceramic Vase
Electric oxidation (cone 6), clear glaze
As an artist, the process of creating art work is just as important to me as the work of art and the media I am working with. The work of art is the end product of a conversation that I have with my material and the process of making. This conversation is important to me as it becomes not only a way for me to evolve as an artist but it connects me with my work on a spiritual level. The entire process of creating art work is a continuous learning experience, which involves learning about the relationship between the production of art and how it relates to my philosophy of life and faith.

6.Kit  Ruseau, Silver Spring, MD
smoke fired, terra sigellata, stains and wax.

7. Tim Sherman, Smithsburg, MD
Carbon Platter
Wood fired stoneware, cone 11

Tim Sherman is a potter making functional, utilitarian pottery on an electric potters wheel. Sherman glazes and single fires all of his work in a large wood-burning anagama style kiln at his home in Frederick, Md. He makes a wide range of tableware: cups, mugs, bowls, plates, pitchers to decorative vases, jugs, and large scale jars. Although Sherman has control over the form and glaze he applies on his pieces, much of the final outcome is left to the mercy of the kiln and the firing process. Over three days, layers of wood ash land of the pieces and eventually get hot enough to melt into an additional, natural glaze. Though many of the forms are similar, no two pieces will ever be the same. Evidence of flame pattering and firing length is a huge part of the aesthetic in his work, and each piece tells a story of where and how it was packed into the kiln as the fire leaves markings on their surfaces as it fights to exit the chimney of the kiln.


8. Roni Polisar, MD
wheel-thrown and altered wood fired piece, with flashing slip.

I am drawn to making vessels with simplicity of form that reflect function and intimacy of place and use. I work both on the wheel and with slabs. The plastic nature of clay compels me to explore its material strength and potential for expressiveness.  I have lately begun exploration of slips and washes to allow the clay as material to be a major aesthetic element.  My early influences were the quiet, nature-inspired aesthetics associated with the Japanese tea ceremony, and this earliest inspiration is sill a strong factor in my approach to clay.

9. Tim Sherman, Smithsburg, MD
Cobalt Bottle
Wood fired stoneware, cone 11

10. Lisa Zolandz, Manassas, VA
Cone 10 Oxidation, Crystalline Glaze

What if? That simple curiosity drives my exploration into glaze chemistry. In a manner a bit more controlled than I was as a child with a chemistry set, I am exploring what I can create through chemistry. I try to systematically approach each "what if" with a series of tests where I make small adjustments in chemistry and firing protocol. Perhaps it is my background in the sciences that pushed me to embrace the more analytical aspects of exploring glaze chemistry. My focus is crystalline and iridescent glazes on porcelain forms. My work begins on the wheel, where I strive to create vessels with a simple elegance. Round, fluid forms are my favorite canvas to showcase glaze and vessel.

11. Loren Scherbak, Rockville, MD
Leaf Drawings - Pin Oak and Silver Maple
Stoneware with porcelain slip, Bourry Box woodfire and reduction cooled, Cone 11

Making ceramics talks directly to my interest in the tactile intimacy of functional pottery and my sensitivity to the natural world. I draw from my life-long relationship with the flora of the Mid-Atlantic region. I have reduced my use of harmful chemicals by working with local clay and an energy-efficient wood-fueled kiln. My artwork uses the free ash and flame that are byproducts from burning wood to create my surfaces. I try to minimize my environmental footprint while still achieving my artistic goals.


12. Jani Hileman, Baltimore, MD
Sharing Music
Cone 10 Reduction, Unglazed

Through these works I explore the politics and poetics of the narrative figure, the female gaze, and reclaim representation of the female nude. In my work I’m investigating and subverting the history of figuration, idealization and sexualization of the female form. These depictions of female bodies are everyday, ordinary, relatable; living comfortably and unashamed in their skins with nipples, mouths, feet, and belly rolls. I believe artistic representation of women by women is essential to contrast the historically dominant male gaze and to tell the nuanced stories of our lives. The iron in these figures is the same iron in my blood. They are reflections of myself and the women around me, independent, aware and unrestricted. 


13. Chris Landers, Rockville, MD
Stoneware, slip, stain, and glaze fired to cone 6 

The society we live in today is constantly in a rush, with most not taking the time to stop and appreciate life. When we fail to pause and notice the seemingly insignificant details of the world around us, we are robbing ourselves of meaningful thoughts and introspections. It is my goal to help with this habit by introducing handmade objects into the rituals of daily life. Through my work, I hope that you will be able to touch, sense, and enjoy the everyday phenomena that we as a society so frequently overlook. 

14. Chris Landers, Rockville, MD
Segmented Bowl
Stoneware, slip, stain, and glaze fired to cone 6 

15. Ryan Rakhshan, Olney, MD
Baby Face Mugs
$90 set
Cone 6, Crawl Glaze

16. Brian Grow, Falls Church, VA
Shino Teapot
Cone 10 reduction

My vessel work reinforces my interest in the manipulation of volume, considering implied movement by way of line. The soft clay is pushed and pulled in a fashion that is intuitive. The work springs from that physical conversation .The concept of traditional roundness is discarded and the vessel embraces the process of throwing, illustrating the fluidity of the hand affecting the vessel. This fluidity is juxtaposed with additions that run from rounded protrusions to stiff linear inclusions. These manipulations create rounded hills, hollows and planes for the firing process to accentuate and increase a suggested depth of history. I choose to atmospherically fire these works in salt but primarily in a wood-kiln. Flame moves across the structure in a heated dance, marrying the firing to the sculptural vessel leaving an aesthetic surface that speaks to the dynamic process.

17.Roopa Rangaswamy, Arlingtion, VA
Wood-fired with Malcolm's Shino glaze, and gosu slip decoration

I learned to throw pots as an adult and pottery is the creative counterpart to my international relations career.  My day-to-day life is highly analytical and intellectual, and focused on the resolution of international conflicts and crises.  Against this profession, pottery injects both joy and beauty.  I am fortunate to be able to travel overseas regularly and have been able to visit pottery studios in Japan, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Greece, Poland, and South Korea.  I find inspiration from the potters I have met, their work, as well as their aesthetic.  I have benefitted from the exposure to these different styles.
I throw mostly functional pots but aim to add texture or a design element to each piece.  It is truly gratifying when a unique feature that I have included, whether it be a combination of glazes or slip, patterns, surface decoration, or the manipulation of the clay body appeals to someone.  Most of my work is either gas- or wood-fired and I was trained in British and Japanese throwing techniques.  My pieces are deeply personal and I hope that people draw happiness from them.


18. | 19. Julia Walther, Washington, DC
Daisy & Skull Yunomi 
Tulip & Skull Yunomi

$50 ea.
Porcelain, Oxidation fired 

20. | 21. Bethany Slater, Washington, D.C.
Erosion Cups
$65 ea.
Cone 10 reduction, porcelain, celadon

I am inspired by the beauty of raw porcelain, its tactile smoothness, the contrast between its structural strength and its delicate, soft appearance.  In this "Erosion" series I explored the technique of water etching, where a resist material is used to create a pattern, and a damp sponge wipes away the fine layers of clay particles that remain exposed.  The act of water etching is a literal form of erosion, and through this process I wanted to create an abstract topographical map of crevasses and valleys, reminiscent of melting glaciers, coastal erosion, and rising sea levels.  In our current era of disposables, I aim to create functional ceramics that encourage relationships with permanent objects.

22. Cassidy Stoner, Frederick, MD
Cone 6 electric, Robins Egg Glaze

Cassidy Stoner makes mainly functional pottery, and enjoys clean lines with pops of decorative elements. She is inspired by architecture and nature, and likes to experiment with the push and pull between the two.  


23. Alex Miller, greencastle, PA

24. Deborah Zickler, Besthesda, MD
Porcelain Vase
Wood, salt, and soda fired with Chun’s blue glaze at Baltimore Clayworks 2109

Ever since my first wood firing, I have been fascinated with how the wood ash, salt, and soda introduced during the firing interact with both the bare surface of clay as well as the place where the glaze and bare clay meet. This piece is a perfect example of everything I love about wood, salt, and soda firing. The bare porcelain on the bottom of this vase showcases orange flashing on the side that was away from the flame and a large area of salt and soda accumulation on the side that was facing the firebox. You can also see where the salt and soda changed the color of the glaze on the top half of the vase and caused it to flux slightly. Part planning, part luck: wood firing is labor intensive and always a risk. The chance for loss is high, but when if all comes together like it did on this vase, it is definitely worth it.


25. Alex Miller, greencastle, PA
Crystallization of Unknowing

26. Lisa Battle, Columbia, MD
Memory II
Handbuilt from stoneware clay, sprayed glaze, wood fired to cone 10 in Noborigama kiln