Finding Ways

Andy Shaw

Nov 1st - Nov 30th, 2023

In 2015 my work entered a transitional period, one which I’ve termed The Bridge. As an examination of creative practice, The Bridge intentionally positions between the two points away and towards, one point that acknowledges known, acted upon resolutions and another that feels its way through process and outcome towards shifts in artistic identity. The Bridge tests what I carry forward as well as what I can release.

The trays, as my most recent body of work, is a position on the Bridge, one that presents aspects of both points. In moving away, I sought to change clay body color, to adopt handbuilding forming methods, and to develop a mold-based system. The trays begin with bisque ring molds that I carve from a thick slab of clay. Designing shapes for the rings is my favorite part of this work and serves as an aspect of moving towards by innovating a new formal language. During the Mid-Atlantic Keramik Exchange in Iceland I allowed the rings to exist for the wall, liberating them from being used as molds for shaping functional trays. As much as I love and have loved function, The Bridge presents broader applications that, in time, will transform the clay work, its display, and subsequently how I align my creative practice with outcome.

Each tray holds an intrusion of color. During a 2016 sabbatical, the word Interference represented the idea of a perception that can undermine, obscure, and reconfigure the experiencing of reality. I felt this while in Narsaq Greenland, which sits at the confluence of ice-filled fjords. Hearing the sound of icebergs calving echoing off the water and mountains, I wanted to investigate. I walked to a rocky outcrop to sit for an hour to watch a large iceberg that was grounded a short distance from shore. As I sat, looking at water trickling off the ice into the fjord, I said out loud, “I wonder what it’s like to be here?” This was my first instance of interference as I was physically there on the rock with Greenland all around me, but my awareness of being a visitor created a kind of barrier. What my mind was looking for was familiarity with place, the sense of knowing that only comes from living and participation over time. As a visitor, I did not have that. I was as aware of this fact as I was of the ice in front of me.

Interference also relates to the concept of cognitive distortion, where past life experiences overwhelmingly influence and complicate unrelated current events. In the process, perception and reality distort, overlap, and collude to form something separate. Over the last decade, these complicated dynamics have been prominent in my life. Acknowledging their presence and asserting behaviors within and around them assists me personally and creatively in the passage of away and towards.

Throughout my career, my work feels best when these internal conversations sneak out and align in the work. Seeing color on the trays act within a dynamic relating to what I felt as interference confirms that time on The Bridge is leading somewhere.