Korean ceramics artist Maeng Wookjae creates strange animals and figures that feel both familiar, yet disconcertingly outside the realm of reality. Yet, the artist’s work may be more tethered to our own world than one would imagine. In a statement, he details his thought process in engaging with the viewer, saying one “not only intellectually comprehends the work but also viscerally appreciates it if their preconceptions are challenged or senses other than sight are stimulated.”
Linda Cordell’s ceramic sculptures offer familiar creatures and figures, yet many carry a darker edge. Much of Cordell’s work depicts the animal kingdom, in varying states of tension or external conflict. Most sculptures carry the natural color of porcelain, with pops of bright hues that mark points of interest (or impact, depending on the piece).
Tennessee native Richard W. James uses ceramics and found objects to create surreal figures and scenes. Using earthenware, fabrics, and underglaze, he forges these characters from materials he associated with his youth. The artist says that in doing this, he “explores the discrepancy between how we, as humans, see ourselves and how we would like others to see us.”
Charles Birnbaum, a New York City-based artist, creates abstract ceramic pieces that seem both alien and influenced from the stranger part of nature. Whether it’s his wall sculptures or free-standing “vessels,” each pushes the form far beyond its classical uses. His work is held in collections and exhibited across the world.
Evan Hobart, a California-based ceramics artist, creates beastly mixed-media creatures that offer commentary on both urban and social issues. Living in large urban areas inspires the artist to explore consumerism, global climate change, pollution, and “eventual extinction” in his sculptures. Hobart crafts cityscapes on and inside ceramic fossil heads, absorbing at different distances. In the works, “the imbalance between the innocents of the natural world and the chaotic blind dominance of humanity” is on display.
Jocelyn Y. Howard, a ceramics sculptor, creates surreal figures that explore identity, gender, and other social topics. Howard immersed herself in ceramics after studying under Michael Sherrill in 2005. Since, she’s amassed a collection of strange and absorbing characters, all reflecting both the potential and otherworldliness of the material.