Artist: Ian Shelly
Ian Shelly, ILLINOIS
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decades, brutality, and playful crunch
It’s hard for me to not think about these recent vessels in geologic terms. They are the product of a ten year odyssey of discontent that has taken my pots tripping and fumbling through scores of techniques, shapes, surfaces, and materials desperately trying to articulate my wants in a vessel. I have had to unlearn twenty years of pottery training and experience to allow my hands to treat the clay this way. They are a churning, bubbling, steaming, volcanic mess that finally lives up to the tone and character of my drawings - a way of working that also allows the finished object to look as alive as that first wet clay form.
These forms feature a brutal sensibility that can be seen in the course surfaces and abrupt intersections between planes and objects. These collisions often result in craggy marks and a skewed upheaval of icon and imagery. I have often thought of these forms as spillage from a metamorphic stew of influences that spits out the occasional cup or plate or “thing” depending on its current appetite. This crunchy, chewy aesthetic shares space with an underlying playfulness that underscores the objects use and anchors them to our life through the same iconography and immediacy.
Ian Shelly is an Associate Professor of Art at Western Illinois University where he teaches all levels of ceramics, design and art appreciation. Among vessels like these, his art interests include juxtaposing the absurd with touchstones of contemporary life and mankind’s painfully learned better judgement. Ian holds an MFA in ceramics from the University of Missouri and a BFA in ceramics from Texas Tech University.