Clay Pop: Author Alia Dahl
Clay Pop documents the reinvention of ceramic sculpture by a new generation of artists.
A medium that has often been characterized as more craft than art, clay is now an exciting platform for formal and conceptual innovation. Traditionally diverged from engagement with popular culture, clay is now adding a new dimension to Pop Art.
Paralleling current concerns in painting, many of the thirty-eight artists featured in Clay Pop are also exploring issues of gender, race, and identity, using clay in novel ways to engage with social issues. Artists are employing the medium to create a personal narrative, pushing clay beyond the confines of craft and design.
Much of the new work is exuberant and figurative, expanding on how the medium of clay has been traditionally used. Glazes are especially colorful, reflecting a range of influences that encompass vernacular commercial imagery and artistic sources from African American assemblage to Walt Disney. Funk art from 1970s Northern California is a source, as is the work of Pop artists like Claes Oldenburg. Some of the artists also draw on artistic influences from the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
Sections on each of the forty featured artists include a profile on their ceramic practice, images of their work, and a biography. The introduction describes the artists’ interconnected community while two longer essays place the work, mostly created in the past five years, in the context of the histories of Pop Art and ceramics.