My work is inspired by the irregular beauty of the natural world and is made in response to the quickly growing trend toward digitalization in contemporary society. Created through a nature based aesthetic paradigm, the work directly rejects the ideals of beauty and perfection found in western society. The sculptures are generally small and compact, quiet and inward-orientated. They invite the viewer to get closer and inspire a reduction of the physical distance between object and person, providing a sensory experience that rewards examination and reflection.
The choice of clay as a material is a conscious decision as it is vulnerable to both the effects of weathering and human treatment. It is easy to find geological analogies in my work: rock fissures, lichen, moss, eroding wood, and dry lake beds to name a few. Much of what happens in nature evolves slowly over time, as does my making process. My work begins as solid blocks of clay that are altered in various ways allowing the natural development of irregular forms. This alteration often includes an application of forces that mimic geologic action - recording the heat, sun, wind, rain, and cold in a language of warping, shrinking, shivering, and cracking. The resulting forms are both abstract and nonrepresentational. They are earthy, imperfect, and variegated. Their folds, nips, chips, dents, scars, and other forms of attrition suggest a history of layered forces through geologic time. The wood firing process adds another dimension to the composition, producing surfaces that are rich with complexities. This firing method creates a varied palette of colors and textures not achievable in any other way.
The works created come from an observation of and reverence for nature as both mentor and co-creator. It is my belief that the more you observe nature, the more your are reminded what it is to be human - that we are all connected to, rather than separate from the natural world around us. The work invites you to slow way down, be patient, and look closely. This sensory experience invites a contemplative state, allowing the observation of abstract and nonrepresentational ideals of beauty that may be out of the norm of contemporary western society.
-- Seth Charles
Seth Charles is a lecturer of ceramics and sculpture at State College of Florida and a studio artist in St. Petersburg, Florida. He holds a BFA from The University of North Florida and a MFA degree from Central Washington University. He has lectured and led workshops around the country. Seth’s work has been shown in numerous national and international exhibitions and is held in public and private collections. He has been a long term artist in resident at The Clay Studio of Missoula and Morean Center for Clay.