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Figures of a different kind

Art in his DNA

February 8, 2018 Comments (0) Views: 714 Art, Ceramic, Craft, Pottery

Seeking movement in clay

‘Honoo-no-Mori’ (Height 7 feet, Stoneware). Guest Artist program at the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park, Japan 2017

Ashwini Bhat trained and worked as a dancer for many years before she turned her creative energies to making striking sculptural ceramics.

“When I moved away from dance to clay,” she remembers, “I was leaving behind 13 years of training in Bharatanatyam, a complex classical Indian form, and five years of experience performing as a professional dancer in a contemporary dance company.”

As various as her work can be, there are certain elements—earthiness, upward-straining shapes, references to the human body, a vigorous, intelligent sensuality—and certain themes—ritual and its implements, feminine potency, dance—that Ashwini’s style can be identified in much of her work.

‘Priestesses of Pahoehoe’ (Height 7 inches, Soda fired). Red Lodge Clay Centre, MO, USA 2016

Making of Cat’s Cradle, Asheville, NC, USA. Photo: Forrest Gander

‘Tactile Language’ (Width 25 inches). Fired in the salt chamber of Anagama kiln at Cub Creek Foundation, VA, USA 2016

While preparing for solo show, she loves spending time in the exhibition space ahead of time:

“I listen to what the curator has to say. If I can, I go to see other shows there. When I have a body of work, I listen to the sculptures, hoping to identify the necessary conversation that holds the work together in the particular exhibition space.”

‘Unknot’ (Height 16 inches). Fired in an Anagama kiln at Gustin ceramics, MA, USA 2015

‘Standing Wave’ (26 inches wide, 2016). Photo: Forrest Gander

Ashwini is looking forward to a three-week workshop she will be teaching along with a close friend, Heidi Krietchet in July 2018, at Peters Valley School of Craft, New Jersey:

“It is going to be an important event as it’s the first time in the history of Peters Valley that two women instructors will be firing their magnificent Anagama kiln. All these collaborations, workshops and residencies have made me question my own practice and challenge me to extend my work further. However, challenging as it is to work with groups of people, in some sense it opens up directions that no individual might have otherwise imagined.”

Read this story in POOL 90.

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