This work addresses design elements from 18th and 19th century European slipcast ware, and colonial American salt-glazed storage vessels. The historical work that inspires me presents a criterion for beauty that often seems empty in regards to contemporary considerations regarding the human condition. Although much of the work I am inspired by involves the use of commercial production techniques, my pieces are created with the immediacy and individuality attributed to hand processes and alternative firing methods. In this dialogue between the tangible past and immediate present, the work appears both conspicuously old fashioned and relevant to contemporary concerns.
It is the strong connection I feel to the chaotic and imperfect nature of handcraft that, to me, highlights the victories and tribulations in the labors of the handmade. I embrace the errors of the hand and artifacts of the heat from firing because, although pots themselves may be inanimate know-nothings, they still have something to teach us about the natural and the arcane.
I place an emphasis on making ceremonial pieces that speak to the passage of time and embrace the propensity for ceramic vessels to be heirloom objects. The work seems to suggest that it bears witness to the ebb and flow of civilizations, of ideas, and of people. As vessels that exist through time as humans cannot hope to, these pots whisper to us to confront the knowledge we share of our progression toward inevitable demise and our march into obscurity. It is both a liberating comfort, and a savage terror that the dead cannot return, except in stories and dreams.
— Mike Stumbras