Clay Leonard is an American artist. He received his Master of Fine Arts from Bowling Green State University and his Bachelor of Fine from Adrian College. He currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Ceramics at the University of Houston – Clear Lake in Houston, Texas.
Clay has also been an Artist-in-Residence at the International Ceramic Research Center: Guldagergaard in Denmark, Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, and C.R.E.T.A. Rome in Rome, Italy.
His current research focuses on the important ritual of sharing a meal, utilizing ceramic serving forms as a catalyst for interaction and communication. His work has been featured in various international and national exhibitions and publications including being featured in the May 2009 issue of Ceramics Monthly, as an Emerging Artist. His work is included in various public collections including the International Museum of Dinnerware Design in Michigan, Guldagergaard: International Ceramic Research Center in Denmark, and in the National Museum of Slovenia.
Some of my favorite childhood memories were formed around the dinner table with family and friends, eating and engaging in conversation. These experiences have informed my interest in and research of utilitarian objects. I am drawn to the communal aspects of serving vessels and the rich cultural history and traditions of these objects, while continuing to investigate their contemporary social significance. Through my work, I highlight the important ritual of sharing a meal, utilizing my ceramic serving forms as a catalyst for interaction and communication.
Formally, I’m interested in the sculptural considerations of minimal form and surface, striking a balance between pristine design and qualities of the handmade object. I have an affinity for crisp lines, creative innovation and simple geometric form and pull inspiration from mass-produced objects and minimalism. My designs are developed from geometric shapes and sequences, but instilled with subtly and softness that serve to highlight the process of production and humanize the work. Repetition plays a significant role, as I utilize the stacking and interaction of multiple forms to mimic the works intent through form and surface while making connections to mass production and social interactions.
My current body of work draws upon this strength and utilizes my communal vessel forms to reinforce the social significance of this dwindling tradition. Offering an incentive for interpersonal interaction and to reclaim the table.