Friday, December 14, 2012

BEAUTY: Ceramics--Christopher David White

I admire artists who work hard at making a medium look like something it is not, like photo realist oil painters, or in this case, a ceramicist who makes his work look like wood. Faux bois is an old tradition dating back many centuries, and surely the work of Christopher David White must be its pinnacle. His work is not only an illusion--it must be painstaking work getting wet clay to look like dried wood grain--but also, like any good piece of art, it begins a narrative for the viewer. For example, in his piece Communication Barrier below, he places a tiny satellite dish in a rotting and fungus covered piece of wood. In Cycle of Decay, we see a crumbling brick cottage gently resting in the palm of an anthropomorphic wooden hand.

His artist statement begins with a lovely quote from Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chodron:
“That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. It is the ordinary state of affairs. Everything is in process. Everything—every tree, every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings, buildings, the animate and the inanimate—is always changing, moment to moment.”

He ties this idea into his own work by noting, "Like Chodron... I believe that change is evident in nearly every aspect of our daily lives and comes in numerous forms... Through the use of trompe l’oeil, we look closer; we rediscover the amazement, joy, and tranquility that come from our environment. At the same time, we witness our impermanence by evenhandedly dialing in on decay. Neither good nor bad, decay is simply a natural process of our world that at times can produce deeply moving and beautiful effects."

Above: Communication Barrier

Above: Cycle of Decay

Above: Two views of Unknown 2

He also creates fantastic faux bois teapots that, while being fully functional, are magnificent examples of his craft. Look at this lichen covered pot...

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