My work references exclusive and precious porcelain wares from 18th-century Europe. In my designs I try to capture the qualities for which porcelain has been known since its discovery in China: whiteness, translucency, and resonance. I am attracted to the enameled and lustered surfaces of the Baroque, Renaissance and Rococo porcelain designs, as well as to elaborations on structural elements of these time periods. I am investigating surface decorations and embellished shapes in order to gain more knowledge for my own studio practice. I am interested in incorporating and referencing historic drawings, motives, and patterns into my work.
Studying the history of ceramics I have been captivated by the relationship between East and West, and how they continue to influence each other, especially through the ceramic arts. Although there might be considerable differences between the two civilizations, the cultural exchange between them is an important connector of history and has produced a long and rich exchange of ideas between artists and makers. Asian craft traditions have been handed down to the West and the handmade aspect, even within the factory setting, is still an important concept that allows for control of design and quality by the artist, which is essential within craft of the West.
I am experimenting with groupings of different objects with my porcelain pieces and photographing the combinations of contrasting materials, textures, colors. I am investigating the visual context of a compilation of items which depict objects symbolic for excess, waste, and decay. They are evocative of death and the transience and futility of earthly achievements and pleasures. Inspirations for these photographs come from “vanitas”, still-life paintings from the early 17th century to the Baroque, where mortality is captured permanently in an arrangement of objects that give an illusion of permanence but are momento mori.
Melanie Sherman was born in Germany and currently resides and works in Kansas City, Missouri. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in ceramics from the Kansas City Art Institute. Her background is in graphic design, where she developed an eye for pattern and decoration. In her ceramics she combines her love for ornamentation and her fascination with the history of ceramics, referencing 18th century European porcelain.
Melanie has travelled to Asia and Europe to explore ancient and contemporary porcelain production of the East and the instilled taste for prestigious white and translucent table wares of the West. She has been a resident at the International Ceramics Studio in Kecskemét, Hungary where she studied with the renowned Latvian artist Ilona Romule and deepened her love for designing with plaster and detailed china-painting. She was also a resident at The Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China, where she developed her own designs with skilled local craftsman into a new body of work, exploring the relationship between the cultures, and how they continue to connect and influence each other through the ceramic arts.
Melanie has exhibited her work internationally, including Hungary, Canada and America. She was awarded the 2014 Regina Brown Undergraduate Fellowship from the National Council for Education of the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) and the 2014 Windgate Fellowship Award by The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design.