I grew up in Vermont’s countryside off the grid on an organic vegetable farm absorbed in science fiction and fantasy. I first encountered clay during my undergraduate studies which began at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. I completed my ceramics BFA in 2001 after transferring to Maine College of Art. After a short stint as a production potter I worked out of my studio for six years and attended residencies at Medalta (Alberta, Canada), Haystack, Domaine du Boisbuchet (Lessac, France), and Watershed. This year I graduated with an MFA in ceramics from Rhode Island School of Design and now live in Rumford, RI with my wife and son. I am currently the Artist in Residence at Arch Contemporary in Tiverton, R.I. and an employee at Gleena in Pawtucket. In September I will be the Visiting Artist at Albion College in Michigan and will then begin a long term residency at Worcester Center for Crafts in November in Massachusetts. In my work I hope to offer my viewers a moment of reprieve from their hectic existences and allow them a chance to reflect and meditate. I grew up living a self-subsistence lifestyle off the grid in the county side of Vermont on a vegetable farm. As a child, the culture shock I experienced moving between my home and the post-industrial computer age awakening in New England was alienating and overwhelming. In response, I use my work to create and illustrate balance. I design using a language of the wheel, speaking a dialect of circles, cylinders, and curves which converge into compositions of peaceful monumentality. The space between elements and the relationships of differing proportions generate balance and clarity. I have recently expanded this dialogue, introducing other processes and materials yet wheel throwing remains the foundation. As a result, material and process are elevated within the overall meaning when in conversation with contrasting methods and substances. In my most recent work I explored Brutalist architecture, urban and industrial decay, and the utopian/dystopian concepts presented in Science Fiction and used these themes to express an environment of peaceful monumentality. I hope to reflect on these ideas and fully evolve my designs into a mature body of work and apply them to functional pieces. In my work I hope to offer my viewers a moment of reprieve from their hectic existences and allow them a chance to reflect and meditate. In the modern world we are working harder and longer then prior generations for less, while frivolous distraction and tumult divert us from the substance of life that nurtures our souls. I possess a unique understanding of this contemporary struggle. I grew up living a self-subsistence lifestyle in the forests and fields of Vermont on an organic vegetable farm without running water or electricity modeled on the lives and writings of Helen and Scott Nearing. As a child, the culture shock I experienced moving between my world at home and the post-industrial computer age awakening in New England was alienating and overwhelming. I find in working with clay, particularly on the wheel, a subconscious communication transpires between the material and the maker. The volume and breath that can be achieved through its use can hum with beauty and energy. When designing work, I do so internally, using a language of the wheel, speaking a dialect of circles, cylinders, and curves where they converge into sentences and paragraphs of peaceful monumentality. The space between these elements, the relationships of differing proportions generates balance and lucidity in these objects in a way similar to what is possible within well-conceived architectural spaces. Recently, I have expanded upon this dialogue by introducing other processes and materials into my work. I have begun working with steel, concrete, and glass and have adopted the use of slab building, 3D design, and slip casting in my studio practice. It is important still that wheel throwing maintains a presence, but the material and process are elevated within the overall context of each piece when in conversation with contrasting methods and substances. It is, in part, because of my upbringing that material and the labor of making are so important. My work is formal in the sense that I am interested in composing individual elements to emphasize intersecting planes and curves and the relationships created by the proximity of these divergent forms. Because I mine nature, architecture, urban decay, fantasy and sci-fi for visual and contextual prompts, associations can be formed between my work and these sources. I am a Minimalist, especially in relationship to architecture (i.e. Louis Kahn) and design in which compositions have been reduced to only the necessary functional and aesthetic elements. These components and their relationships with other facets have been carefully considered to achieve a coherence of geometric form. My practice is a reaction to the chaos and complexity of the modern world; there is clarity and strength in simplicity.
- Brandon Sullivan
- Jim Salge