About Me

Hey Everyone! I am Bianca Del Cioppo and I am in love with art!

I am currently a student at Sierra Nevada College in beautiful Lake Tahoe. I am working towards my BFA in ceramics. I am relatively new to the ceramic art world, but I am quickly making up ground and filling every moment of my life with art shows, conventions, ceramics history and time in the studio. This blog is just a collection of what I make, what I see and things that peek my interest in the art world. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

NCECA Influences 2013

This year at NCECA there were a multitude of artists that I learned from, whether it was lectures, or one on one talks, or just witnessing their work. Since I am so close to graduating and starting the next chapter in my artwork, I wanted to focus on hearing how certain artists got their start, what they worked on when they were in undergraduate and what was most beneficial to them. I wanted to get many opinions on grad school verses residency programs and post bacc opportunities.

NCECA chooses a collection of emerging artists every year to showcase, and they were all extremely inspiring to me. Lauren Gallaspy was one of the most influential when it came to her undeniable passion for her craft and work ethic in general. I have always been told that it takes a ton of time in the studio to make it in this world, but she took it to a new level that even I marveled at. Lauren is both a functional and a sculptural ceramic artist and both captivate me. They are very closely linked to the odd qualities and seeming awkwardness of Egon Schiele, one of my influences currently.

"My work is about that imbalance: the vulnerability of living things and the sometimes violent, sometimes pleasurable, almost always complex consequences that occur when bodies and objects in the world come into contact with one another. I use ornamentation, obsessive mark-making, and decorative imagery as a kind of devotional or transformational act, a way to render interior spaces and intense psychological experiences physically." -Lauren Gallaspy

One thing that I learned, that was very apparent, was the unrelenting drive she has, and how hard she had to work to get where she is now. I already knew that it takes a lot of time and effort, but she talk and our one on one conversation really drove it home for me. My goal is to become an "Emerging Artist" at an  NCECA in a few years.

Lauren Gallaspy
Clay, Stain, Decals

Another emerging artist that I found moving was Lindsay Pichaske. She is a sculptural artist, mostly dealing with animals, but with a twist. Instead of using a regular glazing techniques, she goes outside the ceramic world using covering like rooster feathers, sequins, and blonde human hair. Her coverings take these already amazing animal renderings to the next level which abstracts them.

"What separates human from animal? What borders exist between real and imagined, beautiful and repugnant, animate and inanimate?

Through the act of making, I swim in and around these margins, exploring how slippery the answers to these questions are. I create animals that blur boundaries. They challenge the perceived order and comfortable classifications of life. These animals are tricksters; familiar but also alien, seductive but also scary, animal but also human, alive but also dead. In a world where petals mimic fur and hair impersonates bone, even materials upset their expected roles. These creatures are not to be trusted. Once we identify with them, we admit that perhaps the definitions they upturn are not so clearly defined as we think. 

Material and process are the tangible means through which I contemplate the space between these opposing worlds. I sculpt and articulate animal forms to generate a semblance of life. The fleshy coverings are meticulously and lovingly applied, allowing me to both control and understand the figure as it comes into existence." -Lindsay Pichaske

From Lindsay, I learned that I need to take more risk with the surface of my pieces. Since they are raw figures, I can play around with different surface techniques and if it doesn't work, it is very easy to remove. When I talked to Lindsay about my work, she wanted to see some different materials coming from my figures, which excited me. I want to push forward with different mediums with my clay figures.

Lindsay Pichaske
Low-fire ceramic, 26190 sequins, paint, adhesive, steel bracket

Low-fire ceramic, rooster feathers, flocking, paint, adhesive

 Low-fire ceramic, sunflower seeds, beet dye, acrylic paint

The one lecture that I found captivating above all others was Bonnie Kemske: Grounded Sensuality: Affective (Emotional) Ceramics. I walked into the lecture hall and was immediately taken to this place where I felt a sensual connection to my ceramic work. Bonnie's work revolves around the idea of having a deep, personal connection with clay objects as something to be loved. She would sit in the studio and hug a large balloon full of plaster until it set, then make a plaster mold of that piece, fill it with clay and it would create these amorphic shapes that, when fired, would become these pieces that yearned to be close to the body. They are heavy, which Bonnie says is a highly thought out result, because it makes the viewer/handler cradle the piece and hold it with a sense of fragility.

"As humans, we have a long history of engaging our sense of touch in ceramics, and we are never far from ceramic objects within our lives. We touch them daily, even if it is only to clutch our coffee mugs as we sit at the computer or lean against the edge of the sink as we go through our morning rituals. In fact, ceramics is an almost universal medium. This gives us an innate and intimate sensitivity to fired clay. We understand it; there is a sense of the familiar when we handle ceramic objects. This familiar quality lends itself to developing the sense of comfort and quiet excitement that I seek to elicit through my work.

Touch is the most direct and least analyzed of our senses; it is the grounding sense, the sense of tangibility that places us in the world. As the full proverb states, ‘Seeing is believing, but feeling is the truth.’ Yet, in our western culture a hegemony of vision often erodes our tactile sensitivities.
My sculptural work challenges the dominance of sight by more fully engaging the body’s sense of touch through physical interaction with the objects I create. The work is textured and invites the viewer to become the toucher." - Bonnie Kemske

I am combining the ideas from both Lindsay Pichaske and Bonnie Kemske to explore the world of textures more. I have in the past, but my pieces still didn't have the draw that I want the viewer to feel when they look at my work. I want them to want to touch my work, make it inviting and initiate a dialog between my pieces and the sensation of touch that the viewer experiences.

One artist that I came across was Carol Cook. She was showcased figurative artist, at a gallery opening for the University of Dallas. I was completely fascinated with the texture and surface treatment of her work. When I looked closely her work just melted away into these quick gesture lines combined with meticulous details to convey emotion and movement.

Carol Cook
"Housekeeping"" to Room 13"
Cone 04 clay, Engobes, Low Fire Glazes

 One piece that totally blew me away was this 4 foot long porcelain hand emerging from the wall. This piece was created by Ovidio Giberga. I am drawn to the extended fingers and how they seem to reach towards the viewer. I am also intrigued by the scale of this piece and others that he makes. It asks the viewer closer, both with the way he shows his work and the small details that make it humanistic.

Ovidio Giberga

Other work by Ovidio.

This piece tested my perception. It was interested how Colby Parsons isolated the projection to specific parts of the ceramic wall piece. I especially liked how different each projected clip was radically different. 

Colby Parsons
"Bedroom Floor" 2012
Ceramics with Projection

This piece by Nicole Carew Merkens was probably one of my favorites among the gallery shows. I am in love with the surface treatment, the addition of wire and other misc objects. 

"Psychic Energy,
Mental energy such as thinking, perceiving, and remembering.
Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. © 2009, Elsevier.

Psychic Energy,
N, the subjective force responisble for causing change and motion in the nominal world. Also called mental energy.
Jonas: Mosby's Dictionary of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. © 2005, Elsevier.

This piece is entitled "She was a Sender". She is from a body of work called "The Psychic Energy Series". It is about the psychic energy and my fascination with the possible ability to mentally send thoughts, images, emotions thru the mind in psychic vibrations.
The wires in her hair help depict the brain waves she is sending out. Her hand to her forhead; for concentration on zoning-in on her subject. I believe everyone has the ability to either be a sender or receiver. She is a sender, I personally think I am a receiver. What are you?" - Nicole Carew Merkens

Nicole Carew Merkens
"She was a Sender"
Clay, Underglazes, Engobes, Wax, Wire

Walter McConnell was one of the lecturing/demonstrating artists that I truly loved. He is doing with his work, what I am just touching the surface of. He creates these masterpieces of intricate scenes and presents them in the raw state. I want to do this and now he has put this fire in my belly to make me succeed at this new raw work. I watched him create these enclosures for his work, that makes an air-tight case for these pieces to live and create condensation from the wetness of the clay.

Walter McConnell
Clay, Plastic, Plexi Glass, Wood 

Gerit Grimm was also a lecturing/demonstrating artist that I watched. She was a co-lecturer with Walter McConnell and it was very interesting to see them both together. Gerit throws and alters to create figures. This was interesting for me because she was very meticulous about the proportions of each piece and that they were adjustable. This was very important to create a sense of freedom in their movements. I want to try this technique of having sections of a figure, then mix and matching each piece in order to make a whole. I haven't done this at the life-size scale, but I have learned how to with a smaller figure from Michelle Gregor. This is my goal for the immediate future.

This NCECA was the most beneficial conference I could have attended thus far because it has given me all the tools necessary for furthering my art work into the next chapter of my life.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My BFA Show Speech and Questions


BFA Show- February 21st

 A Vacant Chair
“I am not sculpting the figure, but rather the shadow that they cast.” - Alberto Giocometti

I created this show in response to a dear friend’s passing last semester. I was experiencing new feelings and states of mind that I hadn’t experienced before and they inspired my work in ways that I couldn’t fully understand. Each figure I created started to  speak to me about a memory; a memory embodied itself in a moment in time that reflected my states of mind during the grieving process. These memories were so powerful that I found no answers in traditional ceramic techniques. Each moment in time, was new and raw inside me. I felt the need to capture these exact moments with an equally raw feeling of clay. I think if I had gone about this project with a method I had already learned, it would have lost something. Because these are temporary feelings to a permanent outcome, I wanted the impermanency of unfired clay to capture and mimic my emotions. I wanted to make them life size because the emotions I was feeling were so massive they couldn’t be miniaturized.  
The strokes that I made in the clay were direct movements of the emotions I was feeling as I was in the process. How I treat my figures is very similar to how I sketch. I have always been attached to sketching as an outlet for my life. Sketchbooks were always the first thing I packed when I would go on family trips. 
For the last few months, my life has been laid out in my sketchbook. It has been a way for me to vent, think and come to terms with the events that had occurred. For me, this way of creating is completely new.  It is about trying to capture something that is intangible. I am not firing my pieces because there is that immediate sense of permanency with fired ceramic work that I am looking to draw away from. I am not creating to profit. I am creating purely as an outlet for my emotions. 
I have been looking for a different way of expressing myself in my art since last year when the SNC’s Clay Club travelled to Seattle for NCECA. The National Conference on the Education for the Ceramic Arts hosts many exhibitions, one of which, we entered into. The running theme for that year was “On the Edge” and our group immediately thought of ‘on the edge of extinction.’  We wanted to create these life size figures with animal heads representing the bond between humans and the endangered species in the Puget Sound region. We created these figures with found materials, trash, chicken wire, and hand dug clay. It was ironic that these figures were made of the very materials that were killing the animals in that area. It was a very moving experience for me, I was completely consumed in the entire process, so much so, that I started searching for more meaning in my own work. Before, I was solely working on sculptural pots with wire detail. I was taking everything I had learned.  After NCECA, I started exploring the ways that nature creates a beauty in even the ugliest parts of the world. For example, when you see a fungus from a distance, it may not be beautiful, but when you look closely the patterns created are unquestionably fascinating. I wanted to look into this play on peoples perception of beauty in nature. When I moved into figurative work, it was an easy transition because my forms were already very figurative. Then I went life size.
When I started making these figures, they were solid pieces of clay. It only took six hours to completely finish one, but the piece didn’t have anything to support it. I started thinking back to the NCECA trip and how we made a skeletal structures for each figure. I took that idea and incorporated it into my final pieces. I created a wood frame base, wrapped them in burlap and finally chicken wire. Both the burlap and the chicken wire were used to grip and hold the hundreds of pounds of clay I added to each figure.
I wanted to express looseness in the figures similar to that of Egon Scheile. I was introduced to Egon shortly after I started figurative work and I fell in love with the wide gesture marks that he used to convey movement and emotion. He would take liberties with the figure that were new and exciting to me. I saw a lot of similarities between Egon’s paintings and my sketches and I wanted to take both styles and make them come to life in clay. 
This whole process has been extremely beneficial and moving for me, both in my personal life and for future plans. I want to explore this new way of creating clay figures and see what more I can learn from it. I like the sense of freedom working raw has brought me and I look forward to bringing this new skill into grad school and my future practice.

Egon Schiele Inspiration