LA based ceramicist and artist Ben Medansky is having a show at Poketo opening this coming weekend (March 1st) and will run until March 30th.
What I love about Ben’s work is his playful use forms, as well as his bold color accents and textures. I recently caught up with him to chat about the upcoming show:
What attracted you to working in Ceramics?
I guess I like getting dirty… that’s a huge thing for me… I first started doing ceramics in middle school, with just a few classes, and then I really got into it in high school. I went to an arts high school and was able to take a Ceramics class and really focus more on it there. During my time there, I also got to do a lot of film making, design, and sculpture… and then in college I did more sculpture, performance art, painting, and product design. Towards the end of school I started focusing on ceramics because it was the one thing I never got sick of. There’s no math really involved, it’s more about chemistry and physics. When I would do woodworking or furniture designing, I was constantly running into problems because I’m not that great at math. However, if you make a mistake in ceramics, it’s kind of ok… there’s ways to fix it, and a lot of times it becomes more beautiful because of the mistakes. Also, the possibilities of ceramics is really attractive to me. I could be doing this for the next 50 years and I still won’t know everything about it.
Was there a specific theme or concept that you were exploring or experimenting with for the pieces in the show?
This show is really a reaction to some of my previous work, which were much more about soft shapes and things hand built…basically very much about the hand being involved in the work. This show is much about geometry and symmetry.
My studio sits in front of this power plant, and I see it when I’m having lunch at the back of my studio. It has these cool radial heat transformer things. They kind of look like these spiraled objects I’ve been making. Also, there’s these new light bulbs that have fins on the sides of them that I think are really cool… I’m really inspired by new technology. Ceramics is one of the oldest form of making things and I like using that as a medium to display these new technologies. Whether or not that comes across in the work doesn’t really bother me, but it helps me have a jumping off point of reference.
Does your creative process start with a certain image, or do you “go with the flow” as it progresses?
It depends… There’s not really a pre-plan, except for the process. I come up with the process first and then the pieces are formed by the process. Other pieces like the cups with the handles on them, those are something that started from a series that I started in the studio, where I’d make a bunch of cups with a certain type of handle. I’ll then produce that handle a bunch and make a small run.
The cups I’m doing are kind of a special thing for every store or shop I work with. Each store will have their own line of cups just to keep it fresh for the audience. I used to work in the wholesale industry and all the pieces would become so much the same after awhile. Then every time we made something it would get copied. I’m more interested in starting a new thing every single time.
What’s next for you?
After this show I’m working on another show for the Salone del Mobile in Milan, and then also relaunching my website with an entirely new collection of works. It will have a webstore so that my customers can work directly with me, instead of having to only go through a store. That way I won’t have to produce a catalog every season and go through having to make 10s and 20s of everything and just do 1s and 2s of things. That way everyone has something very unique. I’m also looking to make larger scale vases. I’ll still make cups of course, but just trying to make bigger things too.
Thanks Ben for hanging out at Happy Mundane!
If you’re in the LA area, please go check out the show at Poketo, opening this Saturday, March 1st, 2014- from 6-9pm.
More information is at the Poketo site.
Also be sure to keep tabs on Ben’s work via his website.
Images provided by Chantal Chadwick at Poketo, cover image styled and photographed by Jonathan Lo