Meet Marion Angelica, our latest featured LEAP finalist. Her beautiful, functional tableware is meant for everyday use and enjoyment. You can find her artwork in the Store throughout June and July.
SCC: Tell us about your work.
MA: Much of my work is tableware, which I design to be both functional and interesting to view when not in use. I was originally trained as a sculptor, so form is a strong focus for me. Designing new functional ware that explores sculptural possibilities within the limits of functionality is the most exhilarating aspect of my practice. When I returned to the studio after a twenty-year hiatus, I committed to make work that people could enjoy in their own homes rather than view in public spaces. I want people to interact with my work intimately and on a regular basis—to make my pieces part of their life activities. My goal is to make my creations an invitation to pause and savor the moment: a favorite cup with which to start the day, or a serving bowl used to bring friends and family together over a meal. Beyond that each owner will imbue personal meaning into their piece as they interact with it. I believe that hand-made work invites and grounds people in the importance of direct, tactile and authentic experiences, and that this provides a critical balance with our involvement with the technological world.
SCC: Please share with us how your background and education influenced your work.
MA: After college, I studied as a post-baccalaureate ceramics student in Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, and then earned a masters degree at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and an MFA degree in ceramics at SUNY-New Paltz. My plan was to work as a functional potter while living in Duluth, Minnesota. I did that for four years, actively selling my work and participating in national shows while teaching as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Then a career move by my husband and the choice to have children required a move to the Twin Cities and my earning more than I could earn through my ceramic work. Over the following twenty years I always kept my hand in the arts, although I was not a maker. I worked in arts funding and administration, taught college as an adjunct, and had my own consulting business that worked with nonprofit arts organizations.
Over that period I also earned a PhD degree. My doctoral studies and dissertation focused on the nexus between creative thinking and conflict resolution. These studies have strongly influenced my philosophy of art making. A key to my philosophy of making is the importance of continually exploring and challenging my materials and ideas in order to fully activate my creativity.
Also, I was a recipient of two grants that enabled me to spend time living and working in the high desert in New Mexico. The high desert, with its sparse vegetation, allows the effects of wind and water shaping our planet very visible. I find this very powerful visually and emotionally.
SCC: Why were you drawn to ceramics?
MA: I discovered clay as a medium in my senior year of college while a visiting student at a nearby university. When I touched clay, I immediately knew it was my medium. The softness of clay and the ability to work it directly with my hands was seductive. As a sculpture major, I had worked in lost wax bronze casting, welded steel, stone and wood. Clay allowed me to use both additive and subtractive processes and I liked the chemistry aspect of glaze formulation. My interest in sculpture, however, remains strong, so I choose to apply sculptural concepts to functional ceramics. The opportunity to have people enjoy my work privately and regularly draws me in this direction.
I work in high fire Grolleg porcelain and fell in love with this pure white clay the instant I touched it. Its fine grain is sensual to the hand and very receptive to subtleties in texture. It is satiny when left unglazed and polished; its whiteness enables glazes to show rich colors and depth. On my textured surfaces, glazes flow and pool around the textures to create color variations and patterns. Although trained on the potter’s wheel, I choose to create my work from soft slabs and coils of clay. This allows me to readily create many different shapes and add texture as I work the soft clay. Porcelain has a reputation for being difficult to work with and prone to cracking. I like this challenge. My secret is to cajole it into submission and then patiently wait for it to very slowly dry. I like to work in series, making, modifying, re-making and refining a given form. The question that continually invigorates and propels me is, “What if……?”
SCC: What inspires you?
MA: My inspiration is drawn from forms and textures in nature, although I do not try to replicate these. Over the past several years I have been creating work that is evocative of the forces of wind and water as they sculpt our planet. I incorporate the subtle colors, textures and shapes created by these processes of change into my pieces. I combine lyrical lines with textures drawn from rock formations into my forms. This combination imbues both an elegant and primal feel to my work.
Weathering and erosion move me. They demonstrate to me that even things that seem everlasting evolve and change into new and different forms; that change is ongoing and inevitable; frightening and beautiful.
SCC: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received as an artist?
MA: The best advice I ever received was to go into the studio every day and work. Don’t wait for inspiration or the right mood, just go in there and start working and something will happen.
SCC: What advice do you have for others considering a career in the arts?
MA: My advice to others is to follow your passion, not the current trend, and go into the studio every day and work.