Red Lodge Clay Center Long-Term Resident, 2007, Short-Term Resident (AIA) 2012
Stephanie Lanter has been an artist and educator working in clay, fiber, mixed media and words since 2000. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Ceramics at the University of Hartford Art School in Connecticut, after teaching for 15 years in Kansas, at Emporia State, Washburn and Wichita State Universities. She was one of the founding resident artists at the Red Lodge Clay Center, and has also had residencies at the Archie Bray Foundation, Arrowmont’s Pentaculum, the LH Project, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, and the Mendocino Arts Center. She was the first Jentel/Archie Bray Foundation Critic at the Bray.
Along with exhibiting her sculptural work and drawings across the country and internationally, she has given numerous workshops and presentations, including for NCECA, ArtAxis National ClayWeek, CAA and more. She has written for and been featured in journals such as Ceramics Monthly and Ceramics, Art and Perception. In 2010, she received a Kansas Arts Commission Collaboration Grant to support the interdisciplinary installation and publication series The Waiting Room Projects, exhibited across the country and in the Netherlands. She received an MFA from Ohio University in 2002 and a BA from Xavier University in 1998.
Currently, my work investigates the slippery condition of language, technology, and epistemology through sculpturally manifesting words, phrases and symbols. Utilizing an analog 3-d printing process, or manually slip trailing, I trace and obsessively retrace to build ambiguous yet personally significant terms with liquid porcelain, facilitating the evolution of virtual thought into visceral object. As in the one-ear-to-another, whispered telephone game, these works are layered, interrupted, slow journeys and surprising destinations. Perhaps a single phrase can be a dimensional map, poem, or even an entire landscape – full of nuance, power, and possibility.
Over the past fifteen years, my forms have transitioned from pacifiers to telephones to text bubble vessels to text. I have consistently wondered about the ways humans try to get what they want and need in relationship – and the substitutions and devices used (and misused). From the 4,000 year-old Cuneiform impressions on clay slabs to Saussure’s theory of Semiology, signs of language have always been elastic and transactional. Words are vessels, shifting containers. As a twin, homonyms have especially resonated with me. Present, state, and mean, for instance reverberate in simultaneous simplicity, flexibility, and breadth.
Transforming something as elusive as a digital word on a screen (light) into a permanent, hand-made object with mass and texture is a meditation on reality. In a similar move from flat to dimensional, slip-trailing, traditionally a surface design process, is used instead as construction. These handwritten pieces amplify imperfections, insertions, and improvisations. When fired, they are warped and fragile, and sometime illegible.
By isolating, objectifying, outlining, and embedding words, I emphasize their import and strip them of it, inviting viewers to examine personal contexts and applications. The word text itself is a noun and a verb, signifying presumed historical authority (the text) and ephemeral spontaneous messaging between individuals (texting): macro and micro navigation systems. Though referencing topography, the layered lines of these pieces do not describe locations, but the act of traversing across terrains– inevitably turbulent, yet ever full of wonder.