Artist: Alex Thomure
Alex Thomure, MISSOURI
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Alex Thomure is a St. Louis native currently pursuing an MFA at Ball State University, studying under Ted Neal, with a focus in ceramics. A non-traditional undergraduate student, Alex began his journey with clay through Kruger Pottery studio in St. Louis during his early years and continued with ceramics through high school. After nearly a decade away from clay, Alex began taking courses at Meramec Community College in St. Louis where he studied under James Ibur and Eric Hoefer. He then transitioned to SIUE a few years later to complete his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, studying under Joseph Page.
His body of work, titled Haptic Stardust, explores wheel-thrown and altered porcelain vessels that investigate his interests in astrophysics and organic matter. After arriving at SIUE, Alex developed a passion for salt firing. He was also an active member of the ceramic student organization, Wagner’s Potters Association, and was the organizations president for 2 years.
In 2018 he was accepted into the Advanced Student Project Network artist in residency program in Red Lodge, Montana where he studied under Mathew Long. Alex’s affinity for clay is only matched by passion for teaching. He has taught ceramics at the Edwardsville Art Center in Edwardsville, IL, Krueger pottery in Webster, MO, and Intersect Arts Center located in St. Louis, MO.
As the potter’s wheel accelerates, clay naturally spirals outward, much like the centrifugal force of the universe. Gravity condenses interstellar gas and dust to a central point, giving birth to stars, much like the centering of clay on a wheel to create form. This body of work, Haptic Stardust, integrates a fascination with astronomy and passion for the vessel. The universe is an infinite supply of visual information and inspiration to draw upon, creating abstract renditions of space-time through investigations in form and material.
The porcelain used to create these vessels is incredibly elastic, allowing for dramatic alteration to form. Sometimes these alterations push beyond the limits of the material, which begins to rupture and collapse, revealing additional information about the form. This emphasizes the emptiness inside each vessel as it relates to the vastness of space. Playing with scale is vital during process to discover how alterations best translate to a spectrum of vessel sizes. The porcelain clay body also results in brighter colors and works beautifully in atmospheric kilns. Reactions from salt emphasize the alterations and textures of the surface.
The weight of a star alters the fabric of space-time itself. In some cases, additional vessels have been created to not only emphasize this alteration of dimensionality, but also to serve as a pedestal. The viewer’s physical response to the work is of utmost importance in the work, a reflection of the haptic quality between hand and form that fueled the creative process. The organic nature of the forms mirrors the reality that all organic matter is the result of recycled stardust. I find solace in how insignificant the little rock we call home is, let alone a single work of art. Making pottery that attempts to embody the universe is both an absurd and ambitious undertaking that I find joy and levity in.