Shawn Spangler: New Work

Oct 2nd - Nov 1st, 2009

Shawn Spangler is a current Resident Artist at The Clay Studio having joined the program in 2006 upon completion of his MFA degree from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. Spangler's studio practice is split between the creation of mixed media/new media interactive installations and the creation of functional objects. This seems like it would be an impossible combination of pursuits, but for Spangler it works. Pots /ceramic vessels have served as cultural indicators throughout time. His installations address this through the participation of the viewing audience who are allowed to build their own temporary vessel forms from hundreds of parts created by Spangler. These forms serve as each individuals testament to their world, their aesthetic, culture, and societal influences. His current exhibition focuses on his functional objects.

Spangler uses porcelain in the creation of his wheel thrown and altered functional objects. His forms can be complex, are clearly articulated, and are oftentimes created through the combination of multiple parts. Oftentimes, these complex forms sit upon a stand or base offering a simple contrast to the object it cradles. Spangler reverses this strategy as well, with simple spherical vase forms, cradled in multi-handled bases.

Spangler's mastery of his material is evident in the tightness and complexity of his architectural forms, specifically his teapots and ewers, as well as his softly "quilted” bowls and tumblers that look like as if they are waiting to exhale. His simply patterned surfaces, meticulously drawn lines and/or circles stained a brilliant red, are in strong contrast to his muted palette of softly colored glazes.

In writing about his work, Spangler states, "The anxieties of a first kiss, the loss of identity in a foreign country, the spontaneous curiosity of touch demonstrated in a finger mar on a piece of wet clay are occurrences I find intoxicating. Working on the potter's wheel, clay stretching between my fingers, I find a location, a capability outside of concept. It is similar to courtship or viewing a sunset, the act of throwing a vessel is never insipid; it is suggestive and full, it's offering is slow. I view my time making as a private act. Yet those moments remain as tools to initiate experiences and make connections with other in the world. Something ineffable happens when using pottery. Perhaps it is a feeling of connectedness which is never forced or hurried, nor drifting or lost. The experience is one of solidity, found in the participation of ones tactile sense. Pottery becomes a kind of play; a regenerative act ripe with reverence, revealing the human hands enduring connection to creativity."