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He is also known for very complex surface textures which are similar to the masterful use of positive and negative space seen in MC Escher’s drawing techniques. He also was one of the first ceramic artists to revive the use of a highly decorative surface on his pieces. This was accomplished using complex overlays of enamels and glazes, including enameled silver and gold, to achieve various effects. In interviews, he continuously insisted that he did not have any political, social, conceptual, or even intellectual agendas – he just wanted to create beautiful works of art that challenged his abilities. In one interview, he said, “When it is finished, the piece should be like an ornament, exquisitely beautiful” (). What I like about his works is their uniqueness. Each one has its own character and design. Some of them are very practical cups, bowls and platters, but they may have a distinct shape to them that makes them stand out from others, or the surface decoration provides a very high degree of aesthetic interest. For example, I’ve seen some pitchers and cups that look almost like they’re melting where they stand, yet they’re very sturdy and functional if you ever dreamed of actually using such beautiful works in a functional way. Even if you don’t like distorted shapes, and not all of Bacerra’s works are distorted shapes, the surface decoration is gorgeous. Betty Woodman Betty Woodman (1930- ) is a ceramics artist who specializes in exploring the forms and functions of the vase. Her work

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since the 1950s has been dedicated to created objects that enhance and beautify everyday life. An often quoted saying of hers is, “The centrality of the vase in my work certainly implies a global perspective on art history and production. The container is a symbol — it holds and pours all fluids, stores food and contains everything from flowers to our final remains” (American Ceramics, 2013). Her love for the vase has led her to travel the world learning about its form and function in other cultures and regions as well as through history. Her surface designs reflect this wide-ranging life-long passion, often, not always, reflecting the colors of the Mediterranean world which remained a strong influence on her art. When considering that she makes vases, though, forget everything you thought you knew about vases. Her artwork goes well beyond the tall, bulbous shape you might have in mind. In creating her works of art, Woodman adds whimsical slabs and shapes, sculpting them as the mood strikes and exploring how they might bend, turn, or twist to give them a more unique profile. Whether used as a vase or not, each piece is capable of standing on its own as a collector’s work of art. Regarding her chosen medium, Woodman says, “It makes good sense to use clay for pots, vases, pitchers, and platters, but I like to have things both ways. I make things that could be functional, but I really want them to be considered works of art” (American Ceramics, 2013). What appeals to me about her work is the fun of it. The surface decoration is interesting, engaging, and abstract without any sense of trying to be heavy or to make a statement about something larger than itself. The shapes are also fun and exploratory. They encourage you to think outside of the basic form and to play with the concepts, colors, and shapes

Summary

Ralph Bacerra Ralph Bacerra (1938-2008) was a famous ceramic artist who lived most of his life in California but who took a lot of his inspiration from Asian cultures. According to biographies of the artist at (), Bacerra drew these Asian influences from his time in the military, when he was able to travel to China, Japan, and Taiwan…
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