Always Becoming

Solo Exhibition at Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Centre | Skaelskor, Denmark | 2016

 

In ancient times, all matter was understood to be composed of  the four terrestrial elements fire, air, water and earth, in addition to a fifth celestial element, ether. These elements multiplied, combined and passed into each other in the process of becoming the composite body of the world. In contemplating how the world comes to be, Plato explained reality with geometric models that represented the proportional order underlying the cosmos in all its manifold forms and qualities. 

 

Now known as the Platonic solids, the models corresponded to the five elements and took form as regular convex polyhedra, perfectly symmetrical and considered the most beautiful. The tetrahedron, whose four triangular faces meet in sharp, stabbing points, represented fire as the smallest form with hot and dry qualities. The octahedron was associated with air, as its eight triangular faces point in all directions like the winds. The icosahedron, with twenty triangular faces, was associated with water as it easily rolls or flows, and is the smoothest and largest of the forms. The hexahedron, or cube, with six square faces, stood for earth as the most stable of the elements, immobile yet malleable. The dodecahedron, with twelve pentagonal faces, was associated with ether or the cosmos, as its form most closely approaches the sphere, and stood in for the sphere of the heavens. 

 

Today we have different terms by which we understand the world, scientifically and poetically. Yet in this series of small-scale ceramic sculptures, these ancient models reopen questions for us about the ever-changing nature of things. The five Platonic solids were cast from digitally printed models. The geometric forms of the elements both inflect and are inflected by the different qualities of various clays, glazes and firing methods. The resulting forms may evoke the original qualities of each element as well as invert or combine them to suggest new ones. ‘Air’ might be dense or friable; ‘fire’ might feel cold and hard. Visitors are invited to touch and hold the works in order to fully experience this new spectrum of elemental qualities.