Ryan Olsen – Red Lodge Clay Center

Ryan OlsenCasper, Wyoming

Red Lodge Clay Center Long-Term Resident 2008-09

I am originally from Casper, Wyoming. I earned an AFA from Casper Community College in 2002, a BFA from Utah State University in Logan Utah in 2005, and an MFA from Wichita State University in Wichita Kansas in 2008.

Through my interpretation of the natural I am investigating how we experience what we are attracted to. This experience is multifaceted, involving an awareness of nature, various cultures, and histories, as well as their connections with ceramic vessels. I do this with the understanding that visual and physical attraction is different than our experience of beauty.

The idea of beauty is a human understanding of attraction. For example, an insect is attracted to flower through form and color, not the insects understanding of beauty. I see my vessels operating in similar ways when their formal attributes are experienced through their physical qualities. Through form and color their relationships become clearer; saucers contain and hide the feet of cups, lips of cups undulate to conform to vases. Their understood utility becomes hidden when the collection of forms are viewed as a whole, not unlike a garden of flowers. These larger forms can then be separated into single vessels–not unlike picking a single flower from a garden. This facilitates an understanding of the individual utility of each object inside a larger whole.

Objects that create an awareness of beauty further our understanding of the ways in which we are attracted to them. Vessels are not only utilized by their intended function as objects but also with an understanding of our capacity to aesthetecise our environment. This beautification of the everyday lies in a relational experience of physical and conceptual qualities. My work functions to contain and transmit information through a relation to the cultural, historical, and social indicators unique to ceramic tradition. I draw upon historical ceramic forms to introduce cultural notions of beauty; taking forms and imagery from separate cultures, and interpreting them through a single piece. In this way my work operates as an interaction between culture, nature, beauty and meaning within the context of the utilitarian vessel.