Clay School Confidential
You've probably noticed that I don't include much ceramic work in Extreme Craft. I've written about it before, and I think it's generally because ceramic artists get sucked into a mire of glaze geekiness or function anxiety. Most ceramic art fits neatly into stereotyped categories--it's very similar to the way artists are satirized in (the terrible but awesome) Art School Confidential. First, you have the brown potter & "whimsical" potter...then you have the maker of natural forms, inspired by gourds and anemones. Next up, the maker of enigmatic objects, churning out weird organ-like objects, followed closely by the boat-as-metaphor-maker (vessel! I get it). There's crusty drippy abstract sculptor, who feuds with figural sculptor, and her close relative... THE FREAKIN' DOLL ARTIST (and her corollary, CREEPY GOTH-ESQUE DOLL ARTIST). Now I have profiled some amazing doll artist in these very digital pages, but rare is the artist who can transcend the mire of cutesiness, soft-boiled feminism, and...um...general suckiness.
I love it when an artist comes along who proves me wrong, so imagine my delight when I found out about the work of Marina Bychkova, a Russian emigre who wound up in Vancouver. Bychkova is finishing up a stint at the Emily Carr Institute, where she has been pushing the boundaries of porcelain doll art, creating anatomically accurate, beautifully rendered jointed dolls with insaaaaanely intricate detailing and costumes. Bychkova revels in her craft, spending on average, 500 hours per doll, sculpting pieces out of polymer clay and creating molds for each piece and casting them in porcelain, which she hand-paints. She doesn't shy away from the traditional aspects of her craft, pushing them into a rarified, obsessive level. Pixelsurgeon.com recently interviewed her about her art, her craft (process) and worldview. The result is a complex and fulfilling portrait of an artist exploring her interests. The interview garners bonus points for references to Jan Svankmajer, genitalia, and necrophiliac princes. Bychkova's own website has some great galleries of her work, along with musings about the fantasy and craft aspects of her work.
LINK via BoingBoing