Mike Stumbras
I feel an internal imperative to create beautiful functional objects. This feeling stems from a greater desire to contextualize and celebrate the world in which I am a participant. In form and surface, I try to capture the things I see and experience in order to record their beauty and frailty and meaning. In this way, I create objects that satisfy my sense of how the world should be without the many complicating interferences of actual life. As a teacher, I desire to see my students succeed in obtaining the tools to express themselves. As an artist, I try to create a delicate place where users can leave themselves to momentarily dwell in the thoughts and experiences of others.
I draw comfort from the expressive potential of porcelaneous and chocolatey iron-enriched clays that I throw with on the potters wheel. I alter my forms softly after throwing to create an undulating canvas that attempts to compliment the form as thrown and emulates natural processes: I think about a river of hot coffee flowing from an altered mug as an ancient generative stream wandering through the countryside. I use a historical “mishima” slip inlay to create sharp floral imagery that is draped in either a thin glaze or patina that I formulate myself.
My creative process draws heavily from personal narrative. I feel a strong emotional relationship to my raw materials: the growth of a kaolin from quarry->wheel->teapot significantly mirrors my own development as an artist from womb->life->potter. The floral imagery on my pots elicits metaphors about growth, sex, and the fragility of life in general. As I work, however, I think about the floral patterned wallpapers, the peony bushes, and the delicate objects I studied while living in my mother’s house as a boy.
These objects pander to a stilted view of real life, where things are neither as positive or as negative, nor nearly as important as they seem. They validate an ambiguous morality, or rather, make pertinent those moments in which morality hardly applies: a drink of water, a kiss, an empty gaze, a book lost before completion.