Rustic Decanters. The ubiquitous metal containers
still found in rural environments inspire this series. Originally designed
to hold water, kerosene, gasoline, and oil, they now represent a bygone era,
since molded plastic containers have largely replaced them. My porcelain
and stoneware forms imitate the down-to-earth, unpretentious
beauty of these aged and heavily used containers. Surfaced by years of
exposure and neglect, their slowly acquired patinas of old worn paint and
oxidized metal reflect their character. Beautifully marked with accidental
dents and hastily painted labels, these old farm dispensers often radiate an
aura of strength, hard work, and long selfless lives of service.
fuel cans are made with porcelain or stoneware clay and fired to cone 10.
They are wheel thrown in sections, altered and textured, assembled, and
modeled. Fluting on the sides is done by hand, just after throwing. I fire
them with glazes and metallic oxide stains in a single cone 10 firing to
imitate used, worn patinas on the surface of the clay. The handles of wire
and wood are appropriated from actual containers.
This collection includes two Decanters that have received awards in
Ohio Designer Craftsmen’s annual “Best Of” exhibitions, and three that
traveled to three museum venues in 2010 as part of the Contemporary Ohio
Ceramics invitational exhibition.
The Rustic Decanter Series is represented in three Ohio museum
Included here are kiln-formed glass sculptures, panels, and
pendants, representing work completed as part of my BURC Grant project in
the summer of 2010. Through this work I experienced the joy of being an art
student, humility in encountering the complexities of expression in a new
medium, and recognition of the nuance and intuitive design that are second
nature in my expression in ceramics. I gained a basic understanding of
glass as a material, and of warm glass techniques, tools, and equipment.
This experience fueled my teaching of the first glass course offered at
Bluffton University last Spring Semester: ART 380 Kiln-Formed Glass.
This work includes thrown and altered jardinières, baking dishes, bowls,
vase forms, and a small “army” of bottles. It celebrates the joy of
variety in form and balance, of creating and sometimes enclosing a volume,
and of colorful and textural surfaces. It also recognizes and honors humble
materials, directness of approach, and collaboration with fire.
Philip Sugden studied
in Paris under French painter, Arnaud D'Hauterives (winner Grand Prix de
Rome). Since graduation from the New York School of Visual Arts and the
Paris American Academie des Beaux Arts in Paris, Sugden has made twelve
journeys throughout the Himalaya and Tibet, including the Kingdom of Mustang
and Ladakh. In May, 2007, he and writer, Carole Elchert were married by Lama
Nawang Tenzin at Tengboche Monastery near Mt. Everest.
In 1990, the two were awarded grants from the Ohio Joint Projects in the
Arts and Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities, to create
a Public Television presentation and companion book based on their 1988
Cultural Arts Expedition to the Himalaya and Tibet. As guests of His
Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile, they spent
six-months in Tibetan communities throughout India, Nepal, Ladakh, and
Tibet, gathering images and recordings for the production entitled, White
Lotus, An Introduction to Tibetan Culture, (companion book published by
Snow Lion 1991). During that trip Sugden completed 165 ink drawings on
location some of which were used in the book.
In 1991, Sugden and Elchert organized the Dalai Lama's two-day visit to
their home in Findlay, Ohio, with a speaking engagement at The University of
Findlay, where both were faculty at the time. While visiting Sugden’s
studio, the Dalai Lama accepted one of Philip’s drawings for his private
His drawings have been published in an exquisite, full-color exhibition
catalog entitled, Visions from the Fields of Merit; Drawings of Tibet and
the Himalayas. The book includes a Forward written by His Holiness the
Dalai Lama and Daniel Entin, Executive Director of the Roerich Museum, NYC.
the guest curator at the Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York City, Sugden
organized a six-month series of exhibitions, opening with a solo show of
Tibetan Locks and Keys, silk-screens by Robert Rauschenberg, celebrating
the 1991 International Year of Tibet. In the summer of 1998 he was invited
to mount a solo exhibition at the Denis Bibro Gallery in New York City,
sponsored by Artists for Tibet as part of "Art Against Chinese Human
Sugden’s work has been exhibited in more than 90 solo and 130 group shows
internationally including galleries and museums in New York, Los Angeles,
London, Paris, Washington DC, Melbourne, and Kathmandu. He is currently an
Assistant Professor of Fine Arts at Bluffton University.
Topophilia is the
description of how human beings identify themselves with their environments,
attitudes, perceptions, and values. I illustrate the fleeting nature of life
by capturing the space of a home through photographic documentation, while digital manipulation
complements the natural decay of the space, which echoes the overarching
entropy embodied in the places.
There is an
existential relationship between the home and the human existence that once
inhabited it. Home is a place of organized meaning to those who dwell in it,
a cocoon that one weaves in order to feel at ease in nature. The orientation
and organization of these interior environments become directly related to
that of human life through the channels of space and time. An interior space
serves as a space of the mind, one which inhabits an imagined, as well as an
actual, existence. As we encounter manifestations of a space, it affects our
behavior and our understanding of both our environment and ourselves. The
spaces in which we live begin to affect us, consume us, and actually help to
define who we really are. Home evokes pride of ownership, and ultimately, a
link to personal identity.
transformation occurs reciprocally between the home and its inhabitants;
however, the demise of human existence within a home sparks a new
continuation for the home itself.
The Second Law of
Thermodynamics reveals that everything is in constant degradation and
breakdown, also known as the measure of entropy. Entropy is an irreversible
system that can be applied to our universe and beyond. The outside world
expedites the decay of the home in its own unique way, through the specific
arrangements within the interior space. Though some of these time capsules
have not been opened in decades, the constancy of entropy becomes evident in
photographic captures of time and space.
The exploration of
these interior spaces generates a sense of wonder that overwhelms me, where
nothing is explained, but all is imagined. Unfamiliar interior spaces all
have a definite, yet mostly unknown past, and an indefinite, but mostly
predictable future. The testimony of human life becomes apparent by studying
the traces of what happened in the history of these spaces, but within time,
will be forgotten forever in the succession of existence.