Brian Chen ( he/his/him )

Artist Statement

My work is a combination of childhood aspiration, personal escapism, and existentialism. I use the idea of form following function, in the context of biology, architecture, and design, as a guideline to create. I enjoy making forms that pull the viewer's eye with a sense of familiarity, awe, and curiosity. The goal of my studio practice is to tap into a child-like wonder about something that could have been or might become.

My academic path took me through human anatomy and kinesiology. Systems of tissues and organs working together, having specific roles and relationships to make an organism function made so much sense. My work uses shapes influenced by anatomy and science-fiction/fantasy where two vessels are related by form, function, and aesthetic. Parts of one functioning whole. Without one or the other, the object would be rendered useless. However, each individual part carries its own weight in design and aesthetic. Evolution has given us beautiful anatomical shapes and physiological relationships, each designed for a specific function, to help each and every organism survive under different selective pressures. I want to capture that moment of awe when looking at something designed by nature over millions of years. 

Clay has been incredibly therapeutic for me. It has given me space without the pressure and lessons without the shame. I have met communities and people I would have never had the pleasure of meeting. It is technical enough to keep me interested, frustrated, and humbled. Pursuing a career in clay has allowed me to trust myself in all aspects of life. It can be community oriented and solitary at the same time, in the best way. Clay has given me something to do with a group of good people in a rather arbitrary world. An escape that seems to become more and more real the more I create.


Brian is a functional potter from New Jersey and discovered ceramics in college in 2014 and has since spent most of his time trying to learn as much as he can. He apprenticed with Simon Levin to explore form and atmospheric firing from 2019 through 2020. He is one of  Ceramics Monthly’s 2021 Emerging Artists. Currently, he is a resident artist at Carbondale Clay Center exploring sculpture, glazes, slips, and soda firing.