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Jimmy Clark

My forms are mostly inspired by pottery from various ancient cultures: Latin America, China, Greece (particularly Crete), and Egypt. I find a commonality in the simple elegant forms of these ceramic traditions that posses a universal appeal. In my work I attempt to connect with this spirit and purity of form. I find that certain primal shapes encompass a universal appeal that bridges cultural differences and out-lasts the passage of time. I approach the creation of these forms with an intuitive understanding as opposed to a cerebral preconception.

I employ almost exclusively the ancient hand-building technique of pinching and restrict myself to forming the piece out of a single ball of clay. I rarely begin with a preconceived notion of desired shape, but rather allow the vessel to grow into its final form. The piece is formed on my lap or in "nests" that I make by loosely spanning a towel on a bucket. I interact with the clay allowing the consistency of the material to contribute to the ultimate shape of the pot. I then either burnish the piece with hard, polished, semiprecious stones or apply terra sigillata which I then buff polish with a soft rag.

This method is extremely slow and time intensive. Some of my larger vessels require 40 or 50 hours work, and up to a month to finish. Completing my semi-improvisational approach is my preferred firing method - sawdust or pit-firing, which blackens the pieces in totally unpredictable and uncontrollable ways. I have begun experimenting with applying terra sigillata to bisque ware which often peels off in the fire. After scraping and stripping the surface of the vessel, a singularly rich and varied surface remains, resembling spider webs intertwined with cartography. More recently I have begun using salts and sulfates in the firings which fume the work with splashes of color.

I find that these fore varied surfaces increase the sense of "history" for the vessel. The desired result is timeless mystery, a sense that the pot has had a long life of its own, independent of its creator. I think of myself as but one of three integral elements that share equal responsibility for the creation of the work: artist, material, and fire.


For Further Information Contact

Jimmy Clark, 131 Sumac Street, Philadelphia, PA 19128

Photography: John Carlano