Mariko PatersonHalifax, Nova Scotia

Red Lodge Clay Center – Short-Term Resident (AIA) 2011

Mariko Paterson has been around the ceramic block. Born and raised in Vancouver, she skedaddled after a stint at Langara College to pursue a degree at the Alberta College of Art in Calgary and then Kent State University in Ohio to complete her MFA degree. While New York, Michigan, Ohio and Manitoba have served as some points of professional pursuits, Halifax now serves as the world ceramic headquarters for Forage Studios.

Forage Studios presents a ceramic style not intended for the faint of heart. Historical interests mingle and meld with hand building techniques when it comes to satisfying Mariko’s sculptural wants. Her dalliance with the pottery wheel has resulted in functional forms that explore Mariko’s love of creamy clay bodies and curious illustration.

Historical collides with hysterical to pay both homage and put forth a subversive take on future ceramic trajectories in Mariko Paterson’s work. Paterson very much enjoys scouring the annals of history for clay greats from centuries past looking for “victims” to pull into her “lab” for a little tinkering and reworking. She particularly loves the forms offered up by the English, the French and the Japanese to explore and disseminate, but she saves her greatest efforts for the pomp-and-and-circumstance of all ceramic granddaddies, namely, the Chinese.

With so many styles and shapes to choose from and so little lifetime to tackle them all, Paterson has honed on Dynasties Qing and Ming as well as the familias of Famille Noirs, Jaunes and Verts that can bear her brutish touch. The one common denominator she does like to maintain is that the forms be somewhat recognizable and accessible to those not necessarily in the ceramic know. The theory derives from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s quote, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Paterson’s aim is to lure viewers of all ceramic sophistications into her lair of subversion by first baiting their gaze with ubiquitous forms, recognizable styles and easily identifiable graphics before bombarding both the historical inspirations as well as the viewers with a smorgasbord of stimulation. Once again, the formula is intended to bring together historical + hysterical, but Paterson often admits to adding a touch of maniacal to the mix.