PERFECTION OF FORM is often the content of ceramics; after all, crafting luminous glazes and smooth, well-formed vessels is already an achievement. But there are times when ceramics transcend form and function as the ceramicist gives voice to poetry, humor and ideas. Numerous works in Serve It Up, the first national juried competition at Clay Arts Vegas, ride the line between art and craft with wildly fun, quirky objects that are still usable in the kitchen.
“A lot of places do functional shows,” CAV founder Peter Jakubowski says. “We wanted to do a functional show that had a definite artistic voice to it.”
The droll offerings include such delightful oddities as salt and pepper shakers resembling small headless sheep by Amy Chase; a fish-shaped sugar bowl by Coni Kalinowski, complete with red worm spoon; and a twisted root forming a teapot, by Judi Tavill. Fairy tales are invoked by a pair of foxes fighting in the bottom of a soup cup by Kari Woolsey, and in a work by Stephanie Sterling, titled “Delicious,” containing a small human curled up in the bottom of a serving dish.
The show also offered tasty tidbits of Americana, with a ceramic hip flask marked with an arrow by Stephen Heywood, and a hand-drawn mermaid pinup on a serving platter by Nicole Geary.
A trio of whimsical white objects with curvilinear handles and fluted supports by Mikey McGhee are more surreal sculpture than teapot, yet, perfectly balanced, they are fully capable of serving your Earl Gray.
With its bulky, swooping forms, the large ceramic by Zimra Beiner is not your average fruit basket. Pockmarked with dots and small craters from a final sand-blasting, the sculpture has a storied, worn surface, defying the typical attitude of preciousness and fragility accorded to ceramics.
Nothing against perfectly formed pots and cups, but when function and voice meet, the results are so much fun.
CLAY ARTS VEGAS, 1511 S. Main St., www.clayartsvegas.com