Brad McLemore

Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, my wife and I moved to Oregon in 2010 from Williamsburg, Virginia, where I had been teaching Three-dimensional Design and Ceramics since 2004. I now teach two Ceramics classes at Portland Community College in Rock Creek and work on ceramics in my garage studio at home. I use stoneware and porcelain clays in my work and have spent most of the last 15 years exploring both functional and sculptural forms fired in sodium vapor atmospheres or wood fueled kilns. Originally drawn to ceramics as a medium to create pottery and traditionally wheel thrown vessels, I think my work has evolved in a way that also reflects several years of teaching Three-dimensional Design courses. Guiding students through an observation of natural and human-made structure, then methods of distilling those observations into compositions that reflect some essential formal design forces has resounded in my own journey of abstraction—seeking to identify tactile elements particular to the ceramic processes that compel me and can serve as foundations for compelling structure and composition.

These objects intend to create a fiction, the original context of which is no longer known or accessible. I hope to evoke a story of arcane, perhaps purposeful devices presented as relics of industrial (or perhaps, industrious) design. Although the object may indicate a component relationship within itself; some information seems lost, decayed or edited over time–as if a fragment of a greater, discarded system, or a castoff, a prototype—its components referring to seemingly un-related purposes. Organized to implicate a utilitarian reasoning, the somewhat awkward forms betray any singular purpose to the tool, yet try to charm with a certain hand-hewn conviction. What seems as an ambivalence of design leaves reason for the artifact just beyond logic. While often employing a repetitive order within the structure, I also like to build in contrasting clay types and textures (dark, rough with white, glassy) within the same object to heighten the notion of fabricated components. The process of a very hot firing of vaporous sodium and/or wood ash imbues the surfaces with an aged patina further blurring the provenance of the artifact, while richening some tactile qualities within the formal forces of the structure.

Brad McLemore

2013