Ceramicists know how to deal with heartbreak — these are artists, after all, who make something they love and then willingly throw it into a fire. So while the I’m Revolting Ceramics Shop that I’ve curated for Sight Unseen OFFSITE — opening at noon this Friday at 200 Lafayette in Soho — is in many ways a survey of talented young people working today in clay, it’s also a small tribute to the beauty in unpredictability and letting go. Unlike painting or weaving or most other mediums, potters don’t get to see the thing complete in front of them as they work. They shape a piece of clay with their hands and then give it over to the heat of the universe. And though this sounds totally cheeseball, that might be why I love it so much — that every piece carries in it some accident. The range of work in the I’m Revolting Ceramics Shop is a reminder of this possibility in imperfection: our perpetual struggle to take the same stuff there has ever been – mud and fire, failure and ambition – and create of it something distinctly personal.
In this slideshow, I’ll be previewing a few of the amazing pieces that will be on sale in the I’m Revolting Ceramics Shop from May 16-20 as part of Sight Unseen OFFSITE. The full bonkers list of artists is: Julianne Ahn of Object and Totem, Dana Bechert, Laura Carlin, Jonathan Cross, Chie Fujii of ChieCo, Sally Hackett, Julia Haft-Candell, Lindsey Hampton, Jessica Hans, Natalie Herrera of High Gloss, Cody Hoyt, Juliana Hung of Jujumade, Jennie Jieun Lee, Matthias Kaiser, Andrew Kazakes, Katy Krantz, Helen Levi, Ian McDonald, Michael McDowell, Keiko Narahashi, Joanna Pike, Joseph Pintz, Takayuki Watanabe, Joey Watson, and Bari Ziperstein of BZIPPY & CO. If you’re in the area, please come and see them in person — and bring your wallet!
Is it every blogger's secret wish to go into retail? This year alone, we’ve seen Sight Unseen’s own Shape Shop, Rhiannon Gilmore's Dream Shop at the Walker, and as of this Saturday, Su Wu of I'm Revolting's pop-up at Creatures of Comfort LA, entitled We're Revolting. Perhaps it's inevitable that we would all want to touch and feel and hold the objects we covet from afar, and to make tangible the narrative we create every day. But maybe it’s just as simple as this: “It’s kind of lonely being a blogger,” Wu says. “And this was a reason to get to know people. It’s kind of a scary thing: You think, ok, I admire their work, but will I actually get along with them? But in fact, I’m still kind of basking in it.”
If you want to get a sense of exactly how new to the scene Natalie Herrera is — well, she just launched her online shop last night. It’s not that she’s a newly minted graduate — Herrera got a BFA from RISD in 2009, after all — it’s only that it took her this long to figure out she was really, really good at ceramics. A glimpse at her work can immediately tell you why: When you look at her forms, which have more rigorous lines than your usual wheel-thrown vessels, as well as hand-built surface decoration in the form of shapes and squiggles, it comes as no surprise that what she was doing before she stumbled into ceramics was graphic design.
By the close of Sight Unseen's four-day pop-up during the Noho Design District last year, we'd come to realize a few things. One: that we quite enjoy being shopkeepers — the merchandising of objects, the banter with the public, the satisfying swipe of each credit card through our handy Square readers. And two: that four days was not nearly enough. As we watched the objects we'd put so much effort into procuring move on to more permanent retail homes, we felt a vague sense of deflation, almost like a break-up, and we immediately began plotting for pop-up number two. Never, though, did we dream what would happen next: We were approached by Jade Lai, owner of the impeccably curated Creatures of Comfort store in New York and Los Angeles, to create a Sight Unseen pop-up in the gallery space of her New York store, which had previously played host to temporary outposts from the likes of Confettisystem, Textfield, and the Japanese housewares shop Playmountain. After months of planning, we finally debuted the Sight Unseen Shape Shop this Tuesday at a blowout party.