Artist of the Week – Ian Thomas

Posted on March 25, 2013 · Posted in Artist of the Week

Interior/Exterior: Klein Bottle

Growing up in a very low key environment, Thomas spent his childhood on the family farm. It was during this time he began to consider the relationship between nature and modern objects. Nature juxtaposed to man-made objects are elements that are still evident in his contemporary and conceptual projects. Thomas frequently collaborates with other artists to create sculpture and installation works. Collaboration is a rare practice amongst artists, quite possibly his ability and love to collaborate with other stems from his many years of playing music.

Despite studying Ceramics and Painting he has explored other Fine Art avenues. He now incorporates Sculpture and Printmaking in conjunction with Ceramics and Painting into his portfolio of work.

August 6 – September 10, 2011 “Response II: Culture Laboratory Collective in collaboration with Noah Simblist”

Some highlights in Thomas’s career has been spending time studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava Slovakia, as well as serving as an assistant to ceramic artist Edward Eberle. Thomas has also worked with James Watkins, Von Venhuizen, and Juan Granados. In 2006 he received his MFA. His work has been shown nationally, internationally and is part of several private collections.

In his own words

Please tell us more about your art and design background and when did you first realise you were an artist?
I never remember wanting to be anything else. I had a very supportive family who always encouraged my creativity. I took private classes as a child and after high school went on to art school, (BFA) then to Texas Tech from my MFA.

Can you get the Remote Earthenware, Graphite, Found Chair, Paint 50in ht

To me, your work is a delicate fusion between Fine Art and ceramics. You certainly use a traditional medium in an extremely unconventional manner. Did you start as a Fine Artist or a Ceramicist? Was it a conscious decision to fuse drawing and ceramics together or was it a natural process?
Drawing has always been a huge part of my life and drawing on a clay objects seemed as natural as paper. I have never seen Ceramics as anything other than Fine Art. I guess more specifically I have never seen myself as anything other than an artist, so any medium has possibility. For me it is what the idea needs more than anything.

When creating your art, you often switch between drawing, painting and clay. What’s it like creating in so many different mediums simultaneously and how do you handle their various characteristics?
Most of my life has been focused on finding new ways to express an idea, this methodology lends itself to finding new mediums to do so. Most currently I have been doing installations that utilize all of these skills in one piece. Each medium can say something slightly differently, even if they are depicting the same image. A drawing of a person is different than a painting of the same person, and both are different if the person you draw is on a little ceramic house. I view my interaction with mediums like conversations, some are fast, funny, serious but all are different and we engage in different types of conversations each day.

Small Packages: Untitled Pair Earthenware, Slip, 22in ht each

Small Packages: Untitled Pair Earthenware, Slip, 22in ht each

What elements do you find most challenging in your work?
Around when a piece is 80-90% done. This is when things need to slow down and true commitment to the piece needs to be implemented.

The-4 of the 8 22in ht each

At times you collaborate with Shreepad Joglekar. How does your collaboration fuel your work? What are the difficulties of working with others, having to compromise, but at the same time staying as engaged with the work?
I have played music for 15+ years and always loved how playing with someone else can enhance the experience. Doing a collaboration is very similar. You are forced to give something up and to take something in its place. It affords me an opportunity to embrace someone else’s ideas and methods and a chance for me to impart my own. A good collaborative experience is an effortless exchange, if it is not, you are playing with the wrong person.

Two for You: Water Receptical Collabortive/ Piotr Chizinski Slip Cast Porcelain, Graphite

Can you describe and discuss your most recent work?
My most recent work is a delineation of myself. I am drawing connections between despondent facets of my life and working to gain a larger understand of how I fit into the world and how my art fits into the art world.

When I Move 6.5in ht

What’s next for you?
I have several projects going right now. Several are works for 5 exhibitions I have in Houston Texas this Spring. These works are dealing with my notions of self, looking at memory and how in informs the now. Additionally I have an exhibition next Fall where I will be living in a gallery for a week doing “scientific field research”. I will be creating a false history for the gallery by over analyzing mundane marks in the gallery.

Honeymoon Platter, Porcelain, Graphite, 16in ht, Porcelain, Underglaze

Ian F. Thomas (born 1976) is an American installation artist formally trained in ceramics. He currently lives and works in Silppery Rock, Pennsylvania. In 1999, Thomas received his Bachelor’s Degree from Silppery Rock Univsersity. During this time, he also studied at The Academy of Fine Art and Design in Bratislava, Slovakia. After graduating, He became a studio assistant to ceramic artist Edward Eberle. Thomas has also worked with James Watkins, Von Venhuizen, and Juan Granados at Texas Tech University where he received his MFA in 2006.

All images courtesy of Ian Thomas

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