Monday, April 5, 2010

why clay?

After working with clay for four years, the answer "i like to touch things" does not seem sufficient for this annoying question. Its time for an intellectual response.

This low-tier material deserve much more recognition. Yes, clay is abundant, and clay from every region has its own unique attributes. For example, China possess the best clay body for teapot called the "Purple Sand". This porous clay preserve the rich taste, while dense enough to maintain heat, flavor and color of tea overnight. Herend porcelain is another example of regional only material. Paint is the same whereever you go, so is bronze and aluminum. What other material can capture the essence of a region more direct than clay?

It is said that clay is at the bottom of the art-hiarchy, and i beg to differ. Clay can be made to look like anything. Lets make clay painting for example. Clay canvas can be manipulated and incorporated into the drawing. Real shadows can be used in conjunction with painted shadows, which created more depth. Impasto can be used much better with colored slip than regular paint. Can painters paint with glass? How about texture? Clay has much more variation of surfaces. Painting is the top of the art hiarchy? what a foolish remark, those who quote it shows their lack of insight. Painting cant even be utilitarin. Lets compare ceramic sculpture vs mix media sculpture. "bronze" bowl on top of a wooden foot? Both components can be thrown on the wheel and "bronze lustered" + painted on. What can other medias do that clay cant?

Ceramicists should take pride in their media, because conquering the process is respectable. Clay is definately a powerful materials. Mountains are made through collision of two slabs. Scorched earth is created through rapid drying and lack of compression. Lava rocks are made out of dried out reclaims. Because of clays complex process, it has much more possibility thus making it a more versatile material than any other media. A world without painting, photography, or animation wouldnt be much different, but without clay?