ARITST'S STATEMENT:

 

I want my work to exist below the threshold of names, to be ambiguous and non-specific. I am moved by this quality which is seen in the ceramics of many Neolithic cultures throughout the world. In these works one sees the makers gathering sources from their world and using them to inform structure and decoration. One feels the attempt to grasp forces much larger than the person; chaos, storms, weather, seasons. Their work gives these intuitions form by capturing an essence without naming the thing.

This is a quality that is elusive – but one that I aspire to. I want the work to trigger associations without naming names, to be like something you’ve seen, but you’re not sure where. My work is built from coils of clay because I am intrigued with their ability to make connections to architecture, forms found in nature, anatomy, and pottery. I work on a scale that is imposing for ceramics because I want the work to have a 1:1 relationship with the human body, so that the pieces can exist as autonomous beings, not models of things. I work in clay to enlist the rich and multileveled reference that ceramic materials can have to time, humanity, and structure.  (1988)

 

Marks in his Scottsville, New York studio, 1983

Marks in his Scottsville, New York studio, 1983

 

Other Writings:

 

1975

The vessel can be seen as basic architecture. I want to deal with elements common to both : outside, inside, entrances, passageways, growth, decay, as well as construction and support systems. I am interested in the poetics of space, how it can be given a tone, a sense, a potency, or a mystery. How a vessels’s space can make reference to things other than itself, and act as a trigger of memory and daydream. I am currently working with coils. The idea of a set of conditions as freeing, rather than limiting, intrigues me. Coils form pattern and surface that is inseperable from construction and structure. Coils, with a strong organic reference, imbedded with a sense of geometry. Sharp slices, squares, circles, spirals. The illogical marriage of geometry with nature. A man-made concept with an organic reality.

I am interested in how work can hover in ambiguity. How a reference that is non-specific could be open enough to be defined by what the viewer brings to it. The work that is least successful is the work that is like a noun – that is specific and becomes a model or blow-up of a smaller object you might find in nature. I am interested in capturing an essence, or aspects of things without being specific. In this way the work can be like a verb. I wish to establish a reality where one might ask, is this a geode or an icon? Is it of the earth or did it fall off a DC-10?

 

1979

“I am primarily interested in how vessel structure can become poetic: how it can be given a tone, a mystery, a resonance and act as a trigger of memory and association"

I want to make work that at it’s heart is an essence that is “ceramic”. Clay is a material that is engaging because of its resistance to the imposition of monologue, and it’s insistence on dialogue. I inform it as much as it informs me. In this body of work I have started glazing, accepting the layer, wanting the work to have more of a wholeness that is part of traditional ceramic expression.”

The pieces lie on their sides – to deal with an orientation other than vertical – to challenge the assumption of a small base – to allow the modular systems of coils to complete themselves – to move away from a specific pottery image, but to retain the idea of a container (house, hive, nest, body, shell) – to deal with an implied, or actual cutting away. The holes are an attempt to reveal the space between the walls, to contradict the illusion of mass – to hint at the dark space within that is not available.

 

1984 

“I want my work to exist below the threshold of names. I hope it will trigger associations that build towards paradox: old/new, in/out, hard/soft, solid/hollow, man/nature.

Initially I started working on the potters wheel with issues of utility. From that involvement emerged an interest in the formal aspects of vessel architecture, outside, inside, containment, mass, and construction systems. Early on literal imagery was used, casts from objects, - rope, fingers, bricks, etc. That literal imagery moved into a fascination with coils and an ongoing inquiry into the languages they can speak. The work at this time uses the vessel as an iconographic element and I strive to imbue the vessel image with a life outside of itself, making references to  human and animal architecture, decay, sexuality, and forms found in nature. Many of the things which come to be an influence are subtle and subliminal and perhaps become clear only through retrospect. There are, however, many things that I find compelling that have leapt out at me in a  conscious way: Brancusi, Gaudi, electron microscope photographs, aerial photography, Jomon pottery, Neolithic Chinese vessels ( Pan-shan type), Simon Rodia ( Watts Towers), A.P. Dinsmoor (Garden of Eden), William Daley, Robert Turner, Wayne Higby, Phoebe Neville, Meredith Monk, Martha Graham, Richard Wagner, doorways, entrances,spirals, Islamic architecture, and growing vegetables. My initial  involvement with clay was purely circumstantial but my reason for a continued involvement is that I feel a strong connection to how the material is rooted in time, as a container of human experience, and as a means of expression, affirmation, and insight.

 

1986

Throughout history vessels had led a double life. They can be utilitarian, in a household sense, but can also be utilitarian in the sense that they satisfy a hunger for the evocative and resonant power of form. In this way my work strives to be functional.

 

1991

At this point in time it is quite clear that our fate and the fate of nature are inextricably linked. This thought frames the inquiry of my current work. I want to make objects that I hope could trigger connections between the biologic, the geologic, and the technologic. I want the work to enlist the inherent qualities of both clay and fire and reflect a tension between human action and material fact. I intend for the work to challenge a mechanistic and technological world view through a textural and haptic experience and provide a rich, multi-layered reference to time, nature, humanity, and earth.