Archive for the ‘Visiting Artists’ Category

Voyage by Sam Gibsh

Sam Gibsh was born in and grew up in Haifa. He obtained an engineering degree in California and earned an MBA at Tel-Aviv University.  He then moved to Boston and worked at an engineering firm for about a decade.   Gibsh abandoned his engineering career to become a full time ceramic artist, and moved back to Israel.  From 2000 to 2006 he was enrolled at the Giveat Haviva Ceramics School in Israel. He also spent five summers at the HCP Studio (2002-2007) where he learned tile-making techniques, methods of glazing, firing and mural installation, particularly from Wasmaa Chorbachi and Nancy Selvage.

In Israel for most of the year, Gibsh owns a ceramic studio located near the port in an old district of Yaffa (Jaffa), overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.  His tile work is inspired by features of Yaffa’s old urban landscape; including the steeple of St. George’s Catholic Orthodox Church, clock towers, the lighthouse, Ottoman sabils (fountains) and other historic elements of the ancient port.  In his tiles Gibsh blends natural elements of the region: the water of the bay, palm trees, animals, and birds, with the historical features of the port. 

Sam GibshIn 2007, Gibsh was given a commission by the city of Tel Aviv to create a ceramic mural of 16 square meters to be installed on the outer wall of a new Christian-Muslim high school in Yaffe.  This new school brings back the old tradition of the Ottoman period when many Muslims were educated in Christian schools. In a slide show Gibsh gave at the Studio last summer he described his conception of the mural project as “A Voyage Through Yaffa.”  His training in engineering and construction proved useful.  He explained that the most demanding part of this project was the installation of the mural over the school’s external concrete wall’s surface. Gibsh, prompted by his engineering expertise, requested a careful testing of the wall for strength which did need to be reinforced before the mural could be safely installed.

~Maria Luisa Mansfield, excerpted from Tile Makers in vol 1. number 2, Fall 2008 of Sgraffito the Harvard Ceramics Programs newsletter


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Ghafar Mohiudin

Ghafar Mohiudin

Ghafar Mohiu­din, Lecturer of Ceramics Design at the University of Gujrat, Paki­stan, worked with us at the HCP Studio for four months this spring. Mohiudin received a grant from the Pakistani govern­ment to learn our methods of slip casting, glazing and firing in various modes. He is participating in the Mold Making and the Glaze Chemistry classes and assisting in a third class.

Ghafar MohiudinIn 2004 Mohiudin graduated from the National College of Arts in Lahore with a Bachelor of Design degree and has had further ex­perience and train­ing in various art forms, in theater, and in graphic and web design. His work in ceramics reflects this diversity by incorpo­rating disparate elements from his background. One of his sculptural installations appeared in the show Clay Clan-I in 2007 at the Alhamra Art Gal­lery in Lahore. A spotlight mounted in the center of each surrounding clay wheel and a mass of wires tangled at the base are reminis­cent of both the theater and the wired world of electronics. Mohiudin’s cup form reveals his design experience and is one that he hopes to translate into a mold.

~Suzanne Garen-Fazio, excerpted from vol 1. number 3 spring 2009 of Sgraffito, the Harvard Ceramics Program newsletter

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Meng Zhao Sculpture

Meng Zhao came to the Harvard Ceramics Program studio as an Artist in Residence in 2005, where he has taught classes in traditional Chinese brush painting and clay surface design. Inspired by ancient Chinese rocks and water forms, and by Chinese philosophy, Zhao’s work has brought him wide recognition and several prizes, including the Gold Medal at the 53rd International Ceramic Art Competition in Faenza, Italy, 2003.

Zhao’s current work reflects his process of bridging the two distinct cultures of ancient East and modern West. His sculptural pieces explore the ancient paradigms of Chinese art to test the boundaries of form and balance, surface and texture, made possible with clay and glazes. Zhao prefers clay for the qualities of flexibility and suppleness of the material. Philosophically he is attracted by the combination of elements in the ceramics process, earth and water, fire and air, complementing each other rather than competing with each other.

Rocks in China have long been admired as an essential feature in gardens, representing a miniaturization of mountains and inviting meditation and contemplation. Prized by collectors, scholar’s rocks are a natural sculptural form, found and refined, and can be viewed as a major three-dimensional tradition of Chinese art. Non-traditional colors, textures, and shapes have emerged in the rock and water pieces Zhao has created at the Harvard Ceramics Program. Zhao creates his scholar’s rocks with an eye to his Asian past and with a hand in contemporary clay sculpture. Similarly, Zhao creates clay images of water and waves that have a visual reference to the calligraphic line in Chinese brush painting. Following the teachings of the Tao Te Ching as a source of inspiration, Zhao uses the philosophy of vacuity or emptiness, “form is emptiness, emptiness is form”, as a common theme in his work.

Meng Zhao

 We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel; But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends.  We turn clay to make a vessel; But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends. We pierce doors and windows to make a house; And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the usefulness of the house depends. Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not.

 Chapter 11 of the Tao Te Ching  (translated by Waley)

 –Maria Luisa Mansfield, excerpted from vol. 1, number 1 Summer 2008 of Sgraffito, the Harvard Ceramics Program newsletter

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Sketches for vase brush paintings

Sketches for vase brush paintings

I am very pleased to announce that Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, returns to the Ceramics Program to begin a year-long residency this week. During her 1998 Radcliffe Bunting Fellowship year Magda worked the Ceramics Program creating text by fusing wire into blocks of slumped glass for her installation Spoken Softly with Mama.

Magda’s first project this fall (above images) will engage the throwing skills of Rosanna’s friend Ricardo and underglaze painting advice from Meng. She plans to create 40 large porcelain vases brush painted with cross-cultural imagery that includes Fidel Castro as General Chang, an African version of the Buddhist deity Guan Yin, and a Chinese landscape with a sugar cane laborer. The 40 vases will be elements of a sculptural video installation exploring the Chinese connections in her Afro-Cuban heritage. A presentation on Magda’s work in progress will be scheduled in a few weeks.

Illustration of her project this fall

Illustration of her project this fall

Campos-Pons uses many media to connect with her complex personal and cultural history through reinterpreting rites and myths from her childhood. “My subjects are often my Afro-Cuban relatives as well as myself. My themes are cross cultural, and cross generational; race and gender expressed in symbols of matriarchy and maternity are thematic ideas.” Born in Cuba of Nigerian ancestry and trained at the Superior Institute of Art (ISA) in Havana, she has lived and worked in the Boston area since arriving in 1991. In addition to teaching at the Boston Museum School and energizing the Gallery Artists Studio Projects (GASP) in Brookline, which she founded with her husband Neil Leonard, Magda has shown her work in numerous international venues. She currently has an installation at the Guangzhou Triennial, and recently had a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and a retrospective at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Here is a video introduction to Magda. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5457190437445130515

Magda’s work is included in a traveling group exhibition, “Black Womanhood: Icons, Images, and Ideologies of the African Body”, currently at Wellesley College from September 17 to December 14, 2008. This Saturday she will be giving a performance at Wellesley College at 6 pm in conjunction with the symposium “Black Womanhood: Icons, Images, and Ideologies of the African Body”

Nancy Selvage ~Ceramics Program Director

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