In this guest post, Suzanne Dittenber and Susan Klein share the inspiration and ideas that led them to organize 2020 Summer Residency Session I: Material Intersections. Additional participating artists include Eleanna Anagnos, Philippe Hyojung Kim, Carole d’Inverno, Nicholas Nyland, and guest artist Lauren Mabry Space in the session is available for those interested in joining the group from June 7-19. Learn more and register for this session.
Our session explores the intersection of painting and ceramics. We are trained as painters and teach painting, yet clay has become an important material for both of us and we are excited to offer a residency opportunity for ceramicists, painters, and all hybrid artists. The residency will focus on painterly qualities as embodied in clay. We are inspired by the long history of artists who play with the relationship between sculpture and painting.
Susan: Ceramics are a natural development in my work. I have been building structures as subjects for my paintings since undergraduate school, but it has only been in the past 3-4 years that I have let sculpture take the leading roll. Clay is the perfect material that allows for a balance of planning and improvisation. My sculpture practice is completely intertwined with painting. As a painter, response and improv are key – I rarely make an image that is preplanned. Clay takes a bit more planning, so I do prepare with drawings, yet I am able to change my mind, make mistakes, and work fluidly. I think about surface in similar way as to a painting – where is it glossy? Matte? Smooth? Gnarly? Patterned? I am able to feel my way through the process just as if I were painting. I glaze and oil paint on my ceramics – I like the mash-up of processes and surfaces.
In this workshop I look forward to fostering playfulness, placing tactile response and funky improvisation at the forefront of the process. It is also our intent to work closely with the other artists to trade ideas, collaborate, and experiment with the possibilities of a painterly, open- ended approach to ceramics.
Suzanne: About four years ago, I began to fold ceramic processes into my studio work. I had been making paintings of water-damaged magazines and books. While I was interested in the translation of these sculptural forms to a two dimensional expression, I also wanted to capture their reliefs in a three dimensional capacity with their subtle undulations and variations. I began by dipping water damaged pages of Artforum in plaster and this has expanded to a mold making, slip casting process. The resulting body of work considers the minute and subtle mark-making two- dimensional surfaces, namely books and magazines, isolated from the attendant imagery and text these publications house.
Color has long been a very prominent investigation in my practice. While my work has recently focused on a tighter range of neutrals, I am excited to nudge color back into my work in a more expressive way. At Watershed, I will be working with pigmented casting slip to create new sculptures.
Susan Klein is Assistant Professor of Painting at College of Charleston. Suzanne Dittenber is an Assistant Professor of Painting at UNC Asheville.