The vessels that I make stive to build harmony between utility, form, and surface through a gentle coercion of process, while challenging the notions and assumptions of the form’s representations.
My work is greatly concerned with exercising the restraint that is required by simplicity and paying attention to the necessary details concerned within a specific form without becoming overly fussy. My vessels are made quickly and with an economy of means while still striving to build strong, dynamic and tight forms. I strive to capture the poetry of the process and capitalize on the inconsistencies of the hand and clay, while simultaneously not allowing for the hand to speak too loudly. The materiality of the clay is ever present and remnants of its reaction to the process are left to softly speak. Particles of sand draw rousing lines through the clay as it is worked. The clay responds to tool marks and the hand, quietly displaying transient moments captured in time. I find beauty in the dynamic, soft dance between my hands as the maker and the vessel that is formed through their actions. As this happens, Intuition guides me as I search for a space in which there is no hesitation nor perplexity.
These vessels are made of soft clay and on a slow turning wheel, allowing for the repetition of the wheel’s rhythm to be left as a visual cue to the process and giving voice to the material. This repetition is built upon with concentricity found throughout each vessel. Rings are left on the insides of pots to build visual play between the object and the process of using the object. Edges create visual breaks in the composition, creating plains on which the frozen expressions of process highlight the depth of surface. The surfaces capitalize on the imperfections in the clay, creating rawness and unevenness that offer richness and further depth. Line is emphasized by the endings and beginning of pots and frame soft, healthy volumes with strong postures. The overall forms are minimal contrasting their surface containing layers of depth and vigor.
Through these processes, I am seeking to capture a sense of time and natural ephemeral phenomenon. By layering these materials and processes erosion and reconstruction simultaneously occur and are emphasized through coloration and surface treatment. The sand not only illuminates the surface like a star in the sky, but it also mimics the localized and sporadic melting of a piece of salt on a snowy sidewalk. Bands of dancing color created by the firing process bring forth the essence of topography created through millions of years of sedimentation and erosion or wind over a snowy plane. Weathering is something we experience every day, whether it is the slow erosion of a sidewalk from the pitter patter of daily life or the meandering rivers of western Wisconsin finding new paths and creating ox bows, the world around us is continuously decaying and transforming into something new. Finding these patterns of transformation in just the right moment is like finding a gem. Distilling the essence of these patterns into my pottery creates an ephemeral moment vitrified in time.
Furthermore, the sense of time is built upon by use, and utility demands trust in the object. My pots are willing and accepting of use, while also challenging the notions of it. Form and surface gently dictate the ways in which food is oriented on a plate, or how a hand grasps an object. Lips and handles are thoughtfully inviting yet orient the user in a way that creates awareness in the process of using it. I find beauty in this heightened sense of awareness created by the interaction between user and object. Delicate traces and faint evidence of the ephemeral process are left to be discovered while continual use brings intrinsic and transient beauty to each pot that is rediscovered through this thoughtful conversation and time spent with the pots.
My pots are continuously in a state of becoming. With each use, they yearn for more and build relationships to their surroundings and capabilities. The notion of completion has no basis in my pottery and impressions are to be forever new. It is the transient cycles of use that make them and give them substance. Food, drink, and good company transform the vessels, while the vessels give back and bring together that good company and contain food and drink, transforming it into an experience. What I aim to do as a potter is build a complex canvas worthy of an accepting discovery that also offers a space for nourishment.
Beck is currently a third year Master of Fine Arts candidate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he is studying ceramics. His current research focuses on the process of soda firing, which utilizes soda ash, or sodium carbonate, and its volatilization inside the nearly 2300°F gas-fired kiln to glaze his wares. The wares he makes are utilitarian and encourage a dialogue between user, process, material, and self. Beck holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls, has been a resident artist at the Cub Creek Foundation in Virginia and Faenza Art Ceramic Center in Italy, was awarded the 2020 Jerome Ceramic Artist Project Grant through Northern Clay Center, is a 2023 Ceramics Monthly Emerging Artist and has taught making and firing workshops internationally.