Arts & Crafts Statement

Arts & Crafts Statement

The difference between art and craft is that art usually does not have a real function in people's lives other than it aesthetic beauty. Craft, on the other hand, has some function in a household. Functional pottery, tile, a vase all have uses. A painting or sculpture works on its aesthetics. Paintings and figurative work have traditionally been thought of as fine art. Also, if it hangs on a wall it can be referred to as art similar to a painting or drawing.

In my work, coming from western art training, I decided to use the wall as a place to display a lot of my work. In western architecture there is a vast quanity of open wall space in homes. From a marketing perspective, as an artist, I decided to compete with painting for this open wall space. Ceramic vessel and object makers always need a shelf or pedestal to display their work. Since the walls are so large, I make large pieces to fill this empty space.

Tiles and plates on the wall can form modular units. By making large ceramic pieces I am defeating the idea of practical use. I am also isolating my work in the market because very few ceramists work on this scale because of their physical strength, limitations and technical knowledge – fabrication, firing, shipping, etc. So, as a ceramist my work is unlike other ceramists. The market is looking for alternatives to traditional painting for walls. I have found that long narrow pieces are easily fit into western homes. There are many long narrow wall spaces left in a home where traditional paintings are displayed on the big wall spaces. One of the most important remnants that document ancient Greek civilization is from ceramic pieces. Ceramics has the ability to withstand the elements over long periods of time and can be displayed outside unaffected by sun and weather.

There are a few good museums that specialize in the collecting of ceramics. Many of the most famous art museums have some pieces also. But for the most part contemporary ceramics is not collected by the famous museums. Also, ceramists complain about not being included, but the fact is they do not produce enough, and their art is not large enough, to fill the huge museum spaces. Let's face the fact many museums do not have room for ceramics. They are filled with a bunch of deceased artists' works. Storage of ceramics is costly and takes up space. With the majority of universities emphasis on imagery type work the big museums will see new artist's different ways of working with clay instead of traditional pottery. They may open their doors to some ceramists. In the meantime potters and tile artists are the usually the only full time ceramists that make a decent living. The rest of the imagery type, or ceramic sculptors, make their living in other ways like teaching, another job, an inheritance, or a spouse. Very few abstract ceramists make it on their work unless it is figurative or they have a bread and butter line of work to sell.

I am not here to discourage young ceramists from pursuing their dreams… My advice is to work hard and make at least 10 of each style, size or shape of your creations. Be as creative as possible within your kiln size. Try to leave some steps out of processes during art making to have more varied results. Use production techniques of working. I fabricate for 4 or 5 months, bisque fire for two months, glaze fire for two months. Then, it is finishing, photography, marketing, shipping for two months. This will streamline your art producing capabilities and allow for greater success. In the art business, like many others ask and you may receive. Market your work widely. An artist looks for an empty space in which to place their art.

Winning competitions and having museums and galleries show my art are big incentives to keep creating, but that is only a part of what keeps me going. The fact is I create better work when I am grappling with multiple pieces at the same time.

* Shipping Info

Shipping and handling to continental US has been included in the price of the work. International, Alaska and Hawaii shipping is at a different rate. Please contact the artist to get a quote.

Artist Statement

Kenney says, "My abstract ceramic pieces are experiments in design. Finding balance between geometric and organic is my goal, like the ideal relationship between humankind and the environment. Abstract design welcomes a little chaos, so long as it does not affect the craftsmanship or integrity of the piece." The forms, colors and glazing and firing techniques of Kenney's work have been developed over three decades of working with clay. Living in Hawaii for 11 years has put a little twist of Hawaii into the visual language of the surface decorations.

Kenney's original concept of old and new ceramics (developed in graduate school) is now an abstracted version of the same idea. He uses traditional forms plates and vases along with stack forms, sculpture and tile to display this surface treatment. Kenney say's, "The excitement in ceramics for me comes from the process of making objects and the finished product when displayed. I like bright colors that stand out while the layering of information creates an illusion of depth. The approach is similar to that of abstract paintings but with ceramics the shape of each object and the permanence of firing make a unique statement."

The latest challenge Kenney is faced with is the completion of the 50' X 30' new studio that is to be built next to his new house on a 1.81 acre property in the Mt. Helix area of San Diego County. It is here where Kenney will continue his ceramic art making endeavors. The new state of the art studio is to be nestled among 85 foot pine trees on a 125' X 65' building pad.

Kenney's ceramic art is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, the City of Honolulu, and the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park Museum, in Japan. His art has been exhibited in many important cities throughout the United States, Paris, Tokyo, and Seoul

Read More:Douglas Kenney Bio