My current work reflects on my partner’s illness; a disease that has changed our lives forever. While these pieces are deeply personal and intimate, and are born of something that is truly horrific, I have discovered over time that there has been growth and beauty found in the experience. Pain and suffering has the ability to make one more empathetic, sympathetic and kind. I am interested in my work reflecting on this. While the real experiences are unpleasant and extreme, it’s important that my objects be beautiful and complex in form, composition, decoration and surface.
My studio practice is varied: I use building techniques and surfaces that are appropriate for a body of work. I begin with an overarching theme, but rarely start building with a fully formed idea; this approach enables one piece to inform the next. The majority of my work is constructed by connecting leather hard elements together. Prior to building actual pieces, I make components that I think I may need for their construction. I hand build slabs, coils, tubes, cubes and wheel thrown forms. I create more building blocks than I think will be necessary to construct the sculptures I have in mind. The leftover elements allow me to play and free associate while my head is still in a certain frame of mind. This is often when the best work is made or a new direction or nuance is discovered. “Brule Respite #1 and #2” are the results of this approach.
There are recurring forms in my work. The cube is of particular significance. I often distort, compress and enhance its perspective. A “Necker” cube is a two-dimensional optical illusion of a wire frame cube providing no clue to its orientation in space. Perceptions and perspectives can change, and things are not always as they seem. I liken this to some things being closer than they appear in your mirror. Simultaneously, some give the illusion of wellness while harboring mortality.
I have been exploring ideas in clay for forty years and I continue to learn something new about the medium every time I touch it. A few things have changed; I have become more patient with the process, and more diligent when pursuing an idea or surface. I am more serious about and invested in finding and using my distinct voice. I want my work to do for others, what my favorite artists’ work does for me; to make tangible those things that cannot be articulated or expressed in any other way.
— Tony Kukich