Posts Tagged ‘sculptural’

Iraq Map

Shawn Panepinto joined the ceramics program 30 years ago when it was affiliated with Radcliffe College.  Now she teaches classes, manages registration, the semi-annual show and sale and the myriad details of running the studio.  Her presence in the studio can be felt in every corner.  From the time she arrives in her office, people engulf her with questions about anything and everything.  She listens to each, points people to resources, gives or denies permission, resolves quagmires of all sorts and gives advice – which is invariably right.

Panepinto is a graduate of the Ridgewood College of Art (NJ) with concentrations in graphics and commercial art and the Boston Museum School with a dual major in ceramics and painting. One of her early teaching jobs was for the Prison Art Program at Framingham State Prison. Panepinto describes herself as an ‘emotional’ artist as opposed to an ‘intellectual’ one, using her emotions as a source of inspiration. 

Panepinto creates large sculptural pieces, as well as smaller, more functional objects, exploring textures and glazes, generating startling and unexpected contrasts between surface and subject.   Often her forms are humorous or suggest a certain jauntiness. She surprises the viewer with her choice and juxtaposition of color, a palette influenced by her training in painting. She pushes the imagination and shows a gift for the dramatic, revealing her childhood desire to be an actress.

An exhibition of her class’s work at the Fuller Craft Museum in 2007 was a celebration of her 25 years of teaching excellence.  Her sculpture, “U.S. Map of Iraq,” for this show, her largest work to date, exposes the deep and personal emotions aroused by our current involvement in that arena.  Forty-six human heads of textured porcelain are placed along upright rods in an arrangement that mimics the map of Iraq. Tiny impressions of human faces are embedded in each head; the combination of heads and faces represent U.S. soldiers and Iraqi people who have lost their lives.  

Panepinto is a creative teacher.  She generates a safe and nurturing space where people feel challenged to work beyond the edge of their comfort level.  Her class twists and turns around new ideas and techniques.  Each class is usually begun with slides of work from outside sources, illustrating the infinite possibilities of the medium.  In the fast-paced, playfully humorous and highly demanding environment, students exceed their own expectations as they discover their own creative ideas and imagery.

Shawn PanepintoPanepinto’s final class is a banquet, often using tableware made especially for the occasion.  She turns the studio into a magical place decorated with her inexhaustible supply of lights strung around pipes and over the tables.  The sense of celebration is in proportion to all of the hard work and anxious moments during the semester.  The evening cements the bonds built during the weeks of class during which everyone is focused on the common goal of achieving new heights.

~Liz Golbus, excerpted from vol 1. number 2, Fall 2008 of Sgraffito the Harvard Ceramics Programs newsletter


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Alice Abrams Sculpture

Alice Abrams trained in theatre arts as an undergraduate at Tufts University and as a graduate student at New York University. She was introduced to clay in a local art center in 1970. “The hobby grew into a passion,” said Abrams, who has been associated with Boston area ceramics programs during the past 35 years. As stu­dent, teacher, exhibi­tor and curator, she has become a well-known figure in the ceramics community. Currently she maintains studio space at the Lexington Arts & Crafts Society, where she has been a member since 1974, and at the Harvard Ceramics Program Studio, where she has been a participant for 20 years.

Abrams’ ceramics reflect her warm and in­fectious sense of humor and her emotional attachments to nature and family. A signature form for Abrams is the buffalo. Every piece is one of a kind. Each bison is hand formed and finished by firing in raku or in a sag­gar box with organic materials and metal oxides. “Making buf­falos gives me a way to honor my mother,” Abrams explains. “As a child in the Midwest I accompanied her on many western road trips during summer holidays …. The buf­falo serves as a symbol for my attachment to a courageous woman who discovered a new life and taught me about possibilities across the horizon.” 

Humor is another constant in Abrams’ cre­ations. One aspect of her current work is focused on food sculpture, reshaping the vocabulary of nutrition with clay. Abrams describes this idea as, “adding some spice to nutritional concepts to make them more palatable.” One such sculpture is a plate of donuts on lettuce titled I Will Just Have a Salad. Another is Food Pyramid, con­structed of three layers of peanuts — over 1200 in number. Abrams hand-builds these sculp­tures, using low-fire clays and glazes as mate­rials, and slabs, coils and molds for forming. She also incorporates rods and glue and other tools. Abrams is eclec­tic in her choice of clay, glazes, firing modes and temperatures, as well as in her forming techniques. She works with low-, medium- and high-fire clays and glazes and finishes in oxida­tion, reduction, saggar or raku firings. She hand-builds functional plates, platters and boxes as well as the buf­falo and food sculptures.Abrams is also skilled at wheel-throwing, using this expertise to form bowls and lidded jars, mugs and other vessels. Consistent with this diversity, she employs a wide range of techniques for decorating her work.

Alice AbramsAlthough widely divergent in construction and finish, Abrams’ body of work contains themes that are recognizably hers, most notably the shape of her thrown forms and the nature of her hand-built pieces. Threads of continuity can be perceived throughout, along with a de­sire to stretch into new territory. Consequently it is common to see herds of buffalo roaming among mugs, platters and bowls, or plates of ceramic cupcakes, in her display at the semi-an­nual Show and Sale of the HCP Studio.

~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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South Station

2 to 1

Pam Gorgone is a Ceramics Program instructor and a long-time Non-Resident Tutor and ceramics Instructor at Harvard’s Mather House. Her small scale sculptural work, often focusing on sets and serial objects, has been described as quiet, meditative, and elemental. Pushing the limits of porcelain’s plasticity she rises to the challenge of making ultra-thin hand-built pieces, and is more interested in the color being part of the material rather than something applied to the surface. “Born to pot,” Pam finds inspiration in repetition and rhythm, the paintings of Agnes Martin and the sculpture of Donald Judd, and the interrelationships within her own family. She prefers the “doing and the making” of her vessels and sculptural componants and, once they have been fired, in their recombination.


Pam Gorgone Pam Gorgone BFA at Tufts/Museum School and instructor at Harvard’s Mather House.

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tea set

tea set

For Harvard senior Dave Tischfield the freedom he finds in the studio, where he can ‘just start making’ anything that he can imagine, serves as welcome relief for the stresses and ‘reality’ of working on hardcore lab science. Since freshman year Tischfield’s creative passion for making and firing ceramic sculpture and vessels has been infectious. With wit and energy Tischfield has produced Clay All Night, a popular undergraduate studio party;  taught classes at the Quincy House ceramics studio; run studio workshops for kids with AIDS; and contributed to Ceramics Program presentations for Harvard’s Arts First Festival, a variety of student groups and courses, and the City of Cambridge’s  Riverfest.

David TischfieldWhile giving his students the skills they need to accomplish their creative goals has been both fun and rewarding for Tischfield, ultimately he plans to build on his undergraduate neurobiological research by pursuing an MDPhD. But first he will take a year off after graduation, dividing his time between polishing his thesis for publication and finally having the opportunity to focus on his own sculpture and pottery projects. If he receives sufficient funding, these projects might include studying at a ceramics workshop in China, and field work in Nicaragua to help establish a ceramics microenterprise development project. ~Sue Post

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erotic table setting

erotic table setting

The diversity of Amy Woods’ fanciful table settings belies her abiding commitment to the integrity of the various clays and glazes as well as the piles of found objects she often uses as source material. While not intending to be too obvious or offensive, Woods’ work subverts the concepts of identity and playfulness, and pushes the opposing boundaries of both sculptural and surface decoration. AS a TA and summer course instructor, Woods encourages her students to relate their ceramic practice to their life outside the studio. ~Sue Post


Amy Woods

Amy Woods graduated from Boston University with a B.A. in German literature.  Her next endeavor was to transform herself into  a professional potter getting most of her education “hands on” through the Harvard Ceramics Studio (formerly the Radcliffe Pottery Studio) with the addition of some summer workshops with Walter Ostram and Marilyn Dintenfass.  She has produced an abundance of specialty presentation-ware for vegetables, fruits, beverages, and blancmange, that is not to be trifled with.




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Flat Fish

Flat Fish

Stephanie Young     Artist Statement

I base all of my work on designs created first by the earth.  I have yet to lose my childlike curiosity about the existence of things, and I attempt to channel that energy into making curious work.

My work is inspired by forms found in the various fields of science.  Oceanography is a well of inspiration I have been working with in several series of pieces.   One is a series of vessels that have textures inspired by microscopic exploration of ocean life.  The textures are familiar to us through our knowledge of science, though foreign to the naked eye.  These vessels are classic forms, decorated with new science.   The resulting pieces are a nice rounded representation of time.

Another series has been my creation of tremendous numbers of invented fish.  These sculptures have the characteristics found in prehistoric fish combined with those of current deep sea discoveries.  Evolution, environment, and their effects on the form of these creatures are a great inspiration for my own creative evolution.  They seem to bring a great joy to the people who meet them, children and adults alike. 

 Clay is my chosen medium as I find it is the only medium that allows one to be totally free in the creative process.  While I often sketch and paint, it confines my invention to a two dimensional plane.  I am fascinated with all aspects in the ceramic process, and look forward to spending all my years playing in the mud.

Stephanie YoungStephanie Young BFA in Sculpture, Art Institute of Boston, Ceramics studio manager and instructor New Art Center, Newton, MA. Instructor at Wheelock College. Stephanie creates functional vessels and sculpture with a wide range of clay materials, hand building and wheel throwing techniques and firing methods.


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