2018 marks the 20th anniversary of Clay Art Center's Artist-in-Residence program, started by Reena Kashyap. This year we will feature Mike Cerv and Zoey B Scheler in this duo exhibition, I-70.
Zoey B Scheler (b.1989) is a ceramic artist working and living in Westchester, NY. She makes one of a kind, small scale, abstract ceramic sculptures out of white stoneware, colored porcelain, and other non-ceramic materials. Zoey attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, where she received her BFA with an emphasis in ceramics. Following her studies in Brooklyn she attended Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, obtaining her MSED in K-12 Art Education. In 2017, Zoey received her MFA from Purchase College SUNY where she was an Adjunct Art and Design Graduate Professor. Zoey is currently the Rittenberg resident artist at Clay Art Center in Port Chester, New York, where she continues her studio practice as well as teaching ceramics to all ages of makers.
I am curious about the dynamic that can arise from humans observing and interacting with something smaller than themselves. Some of the most beautiful things in life are tiny; bigger is not always better. I’m fascinated with miniature things, from shitzus to micro-bacteria. My recent works are a series of intimate landscapes that morph between abstraction, place and figurative creatures.
I am looking to mimic the beauty found in nature not only through my choices of patterns such as flowers, but in the way the forms feel as though they are alive and growing, moving in and out of space, pulling you closer and pushing you away. In Barbie Taglierini (2018) pink petunias cover a section of the the medallion and take over several nodules. Hot pink wire lines create rounded arches that dance around the forms’ eclipse, while other lines shoot off like ceramic comets. The extruded lemon yellow noodles are a playful moment that simultaneously recalls Play-Doh, sea anemones and spaghetti spills.
My practice often begins on the potter’s wheel. From there I alter and transform my vessels, breaking their symmetry while maintaining the refined, controlled, and systematic nature of wheel-throwing. The thrown forms then get combined with extruded and sprig mold appliqués and nichrome wire. Applying texture, color, and patterning to the surfaces of the forms allows me to accentuate and exaggerate every plane, curve or crevice encountered. Glazes are applied and re-fired for glassy finishes while other surfaces remain matte. Other materials such as acrylic and enamel paint, cotton, and fake moss add layers to the skins of each form. I include found objects, like pompons and marbles to introduce childlike associations. The physical confrontations that arise from using found materials can seem uncomfortable, as they are pushed, stuffed, and hidden in various openings. The scale and surface finishing of these abstract forms suggest overindulgent handling and consequent sensuate responses.
My aim is to construct unique yet ambiguous worlds with every piece. Each work maintains its formal singular identity while affecting a dialogue within a serial network. One should explore each surface treatment like an alien surveyor. By making such small objects I am driving the audience to look and enter very intimate spaces, where close looking is essential.
Michael Cerv (b.1994) is a ceramic artist currently working and living in Westchester, NY. He makes architecturally inspired pottery using porcelain clay colored with various sources of Iron, often accented with materials such as metal, concrete, or wood. Michael attended the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, MO, where he received his BFA with an emphasis in ceramics in 2017. After his studies in Kansas City, Michael became an Artist-In-Residence at the Clay Art Center in Port Chester, NY where he currently works as both a maker and teacher. Michael will be attending Louisiana State University College of Art and Design in the Fall of 2018 in pursuit of an MFA with an emphasis in ceramics.
My current body of vessels is constructed from both sleek and textured slabs reminiscent of rubble and materials used in architecture. Each form uses a thick slip to join components together - an indicator of physical action. I design each piece to frame and accent the texture present in my pottery. This way of making is influenced by the aesthetics of architecture in combining different materials together. To me, the most evocative buildings have large material contrasts. The balance of materiality and geometry expressed in Mid-Century Modern and Brutalist construction exemplifies my interest in man-made structures. As clay is a building block, my work attempts to draw a parallel between pottery and architecture. To feature this exploration, some vessels incorporate elements such as concrete, metal, or wood.
I use pottery as a vehicle for conceptual ideas because it allows for engineering ideation. Clay can define and defy the effect of gravity, a major theme and obstacle in my practice. Pottery has a shorter turnaround than architectural design, which I find more satisfying as it facilitates faster generation of ideas. I am continuously inspired by the architecture around me and how it can apply structural ideas to my work.
I attempt to talk about materiality in new ways by offering a vocabulary based on rigidity. While I do not leave traditional “maker’s marks” such as fingerprints or throwing rings, I want to show a connection to handcraft and design. The utilitarian function of my work comes secondary to its concept as I want the materiality of clay to be overtly considered. I use the vessel format as a starting point for design; I’d like my audience to see how I construct every part and how components can be combined together to form a whole. I have found that the public sees pottery in a different light, one that is seamless and industrial - it is my goal to educate them by visually citing the craft of building.