Creating vases may seem like a standard practice, but Alison Owen does so in an another-worldly manner that makes you reconsider the traditional form. Pulling inspiration from Morandi and Bonnard paintings, ancient Egyptian vessels, and the architectural diversity of Brooklyn, N.Y., each piece is a blend of color, materiality, and shape.
Currently her works are available at Greenpoint Hill and Dear:Rivington, as well as her websites Field Studies and alisonowen.com, which focuses on her own art practice.
As part of the Maker Monday series, interiors+sources recently discussed art and inspiration with Owen.
interiors+sources: You work with kids a lot. What do you enjoy most about teaching art to children?
Alison Owen: I love the energy and adventurousness that they bring to the art room. They are willing to try new things without a lot of self-criticism or doubt. I feel like my work has become a lot freer since I began working with kids. Also, their drawings of vases and still-life arrangements have such a wonderful sense of space, with forms that hover between 3D and 2D, and I know that has affected the way I approach my vases.
i+s: On Instagram (@alison__owen) you’ve been displaying different ways of creating “pottery art” through form with different mediums. How does this expand your artistic work?
AO: The “daily vessel” project began as a way to stay committed to my own art practice while still teaching, raising a kid, and keeping life reasonably organized. It has turned into a really interesting design challenge as I have been crossing over into different mediums and letting each day affect the next day's output. I'll do collage for a little while, then switch over to painting on vases, then I'll try to make them out of wood or fabric. The ideal outcome for this project is to show them all together in a big installation, arranged so that you can see the connections, overlaps, repetition, etc. Another benefit to the daily sharing practice is that I have to let go of some of my self-consciousness and just show people whatever ideas I'm messing around with that day.
i+s: How has art impacted your life?
AO: Art has woven through all aspects of my life. I teach art, I create site-specific installations in galleries, I sell ceramics in shops. And instead of taking vacations, I spend my free time at residencies whenever possible (I'll be at the Women's Studio Workshop in April). I work on my pottery at a communal clay studio in Greenpoint, [Brooklyn], but everything else I make at home, so my house is basically overrun with art projects. It takes up most of my time but in the best possible way. I'm very thankful for the framework of my life and the freedom and flexibility in it.
I went to school for painting, so my interest in ceramics started as an interest in still-life paintings by artists such as Morandi and Matisse and Bonnard. I wanted to make ceramics that had a two-dimensional and painterly quality to them. I use a slab roller and work very thin, so the pieces often look like they're made of canvas (and then I complicate things by making vessels out of actual canvas, too). And I'm inspired by my students—their wonky drawings and sculptures.
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