NCECA 2019

I had the wonderful privilege to experience NCECA for the first time in the beautiful city of Minneapolis, Minnesota with my peers and professor in late March. It was a fun and joyful adventure to see and be around a ceramic world filled with artists of all measures and types. I learned much through workshops, presentations, events, and I even participated in the mug and peep shows that go on in the convention. The weather was cold but enjoyable, and the environment was nice and welcoming. The food was great as well, I had some memorable pho in solitude at a local restaurant and that experience vividly stuck with me for some odd reason, as well as a trip to the museum. I had a great time, and I am so grateful to have had this experience alongside loving people, I cant help but be humbled and appreciative towards my professor for providing this opportunity for all of us.

Sgraffito techniques and the search for relationships with form and depth.

INTRO

My background is in painting and what I constantly explore is depth. This curiosity and focus has carried over to my ceramic work as I am concentrating in the relationship between visual depth and form in clay.

Materials, Curiosity, and Process

I’m a very simple person when it comes to my materials. I keep my palette limited and my tools specific but versatile. The list of materials are as follows.

  • Needle tool

  • Loop tool

  • Sponge

  • Brushes

  • Washcloths

  • Palettes/Containers

  • Decorative Slip, Patinas, Underglazes, and Glazes

  • Water and Clay

You will need curiosity to continue, find something you admire or something you would like to etch into your clay, be it patterns or designs, or just abstraction and color. Most importantly find the fun in the process.

My process is all about figuring out two things, the composition and form. What I focus on is trying to execute a connection with all the materials listed, not for the sake of it but because of the different textures and variety they create as well as how the process can differ constantly to create new forms and compositions. Because of my painting process, it felt natural for me to find a way to explore the same with ceramics.

BIG UPDATE - A grateful thanks.

I am extremely grateful for the semester spent studying under Raheleh Filsoofi, the time and passion she shares with us as artists and students is something I will always look back on as something to strive for and harness. I learned beyond the class this semester by suppressing my fears of being more open with my ideas, in turn I learned how to balance myself more in line on what is approachable or not in my artistic ventures. One thing that really sparked my passion for visual expression again is the simple and peaceful guidance of letting go of forceful narratives and to just create from pure curiosity. It’s a beautiful feeling and something I really am thankful for in connection to the overall venture of the semester, of my classmates, my professor, and our visiting artist Walford Campbell. I am looking forward to next semester and really focusing everything I got into creating fine art.

WALFORD CAMPELL, and curiosity

Walford Campell is a close friend of Raheleh, and someone who fit in well as a friendly and caring mentor for our class. Mr. Campell is a ceramic artist currently living in Florida and his visit really brought the class together like a passionate and energetic community. We were all working constantly and that felt good. This is the moment, alongside great advice, that really made me see that this dormant passion that I held for ceramics is something to continue focus on as it has taught me more about myself as an artist than any of my previous semesters entering university. For this, alongside Campbell handing over a bowl he threw to play with, I am thankful.

Something I know now as to what made me admire fine art, the world, and life in general, and also something that I think ties my “Final Project” well is my curiosity and passion. I tend to overthink a lot in my life and especially in my art and it is a balancing act that I still struggle with but the more time I put into ceramics the more I learn about letting go and just having fun. I find that this is much easier to do than painting because it is more tangible, more on the hands and feel for the medium. Because of all this I am focusing my “Final Project” as a venture into figuring out what I really enjoy creating, and eventually communicating with ceramics. I aim to solidify several techniques, even just loosely, so that I can work on a strong body of work or maybe even a narrative. For now I’m going to keep playing and having fun letting my curiosity wander.

FAILED GLAZE and clay body

I decided early on that I wanted to try raku since I still havent created a piece using this method. I chose to create a specific Raku clay body and glaze to then experiment on if all went well. My results were poor, so I will try and redo this as well as try some new glazes and clay bodies this upcoming semester.

Vince Pitelka’s Raku Body

Cone 8-10

  • Ball clay 25%

  • Cedar heights Goldart 25%

  • Fireclay 25%

  • Fine Grog 25%

  • Shrinkage 5-8%

Copper MATT Raku

Cone 010-06

  • Bone Ash 33%

  • Gerstly Borate 67%

  • Copper Carbonate 8%

  • Cobalt Carbonate 2%

ADV CERAMICS - MARATHON CONCLUSION

First off I want to say that I learned a lot from this project, which is great! I remembered how to start handling clay again as well as learning how to stay on track when it comes to my goal. My original idea was to play around with shapes and color, but towards the end of my work I started thinking too much about narrative and how to tell a story to my viewer. I always have this struggle about my work in which the only way it can be solid or accepted is if it has some deep underlying meaning or message to it. Everything has a time and place, in this case I lost track and quickly came back to what I originally intended.

So, I feel overall happy with the end result and also feel that I ended up representing my original sketches and concept well

ADV CERAMICS - MARATHON IDEA

THE ASSIGNMENTS

My name is Jonathan Manases Hernandez and I created this blog to organize my ideas and sketches. On top of this, blogging is naturally becoming like a diary, so I think I will keep treating it as so as I am learning a lot about myself and how to map out my thought process.

There are three different types of clay bodies.

  1. Porcelain - A fine-grain high-firing clay body. Fires to a very durable and strong pure white ceramic because of its high kaolin content. Kaolin is the purest form of clay and because of this porcelain lacks some of what is needed for it to be stretchy. This makes porcelain difficult to work with.

  2. Stoneware - A coarse-grained mid-high firing clay body. Fires to a grayish to dark brown color due to iron and other impurities. It is very durable once fired.

  3. Earthenware - A fine-grained low-firing clay body. Fires to a red to brown or orange state due to impurities/iron and are not very durable as it is very porous.

The color of clay is affected by the materials in it, including impurities.

SOURCE

THEME FOR THE MARATHON

My theme for the marathon was the three body parts said previously. I was proposing a large installation project that covered several topics in your syllabus. I guess it was confusing so I'm proposing this instead as my marathon theme.

Andy_Dixon-10-1410x940.jpg

I want to focus on the color harmonies and patterns in Andy Dixons work. I really enjoy his use of colors and shapes and how he breaks it all down into his compositions. I want to do something similar in my marathon project. I also want to experiment with the glazing portion as well, taking into considerations the vivid colors Dixon uses. My plan is to create three decorative ceramic bodies each made with the techniques listed in the syllabus. I want to engrave and add texture within and around the bodies so that there can be some contrast in the piece. I'm trying to explore interactions within my piece so I created slots in which the ceramic bodies enter and interact together, creating a type of island piece.

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ADV CERAMICS - PROPOSAL

a brief summary

Recently, a large part of me has been enjoying music more than the visual arts. I ventured off into creating music about a year ago and started practicing the Bass, Piano, and Drums. These are the three main instruments of the music genre that  I enjoy the most. Hip Hop. The most common view on Hip Hop is its drugged up, gang related, violent culture, but this can be a very ignorant and stereotypical concept of what Hip Hop is or stems from. Hip Hop's origins was all undeniably political and the reality is that Hip Hop culture in its entirety is very diverse and ever growing. It is and can be a tool for communication and empowerment, and many artists/musicians have created sub genres and styles that take Hip Hop towards beneficial territory. 

The utilization and manipulation of icons, symbols, and pop culture are irreversibly ingrained into what Hip Hop is today, very Trap oriented. What I want to take from Hip Hop though is a sub genre called Lo-fiThis sub genre has shaped itself into a melting pot of internet culture, that of a whole new era of social media and Memes that is still in its infancy. This is surprisingly important to discuss as it takes into consideration the use and manipulation of icons, symbols, and pop culture. Through this, communication, empowerment, or even individuality can flourish. 

So, now that I have unjustifiably explained the music that I enjoy creating and plan to utilize in conjunction with my visual arts, I still find the need to explain the underlying reason of why I am doing so, and how I am going to go about attempting to actually do so. So here goes.

 

  • Heartbreak

  • Being Lost

  • Individuality

  • Dysthymia

 

I know, edgy.

 

Yet this is my reality, and I don't know how to shake it off yet. One thing that has completely turned my world around is this subjective fact, that everything I am doing now is tied towards coping with my offsets stemming from a "traumatic" experience. So this is TL;DR why I am doing this Installation.

EXPLANATIONS OF THE "WHY"

So my "traumatic" experience happens. From it comes growth. Through growth comes understanding. Dysthemia is discovered, a persistent depressive disorder. Contemplation of childhood and life, adulthood and individuality. Realizations of how all of that has shaped me into who and how I am today. Then comes why I am so fascinated with the arts and music, and most importantly, the human condition. This fascination ties back to everything.

Now I understand my itch for creating music and art. In fact, I started passionately drawing/painting because of a heartbreak back in high school, and before that I even drew a lot as a kid because of my then abusive parents. In fact, before anything, when I was in elementary and middle school I would always create small figures out of trash bag wires. I sculpted and did some stop motion too, I remember I even wanted to create little clothes for my figures and sets. My uncle called me a faggot for it though, and that completely ruined me for a while, in fact I never picked up clay again until high school. So stupid. I realize now that all of this was a sense of escape, a venture into my ideas and thoughts. I still remember the sole reason I kept doing any of this, and that was the bliss that came from creating. I can definitely say for certain that through my pain I grew wonder and passion, and even to this day they are inseparable. 

So back to the "traumatic" experience. This happens late 2017. I venture off into music as a subconscious coping mechanism, just like the visual arts. I eventually learn that I enjoy this form of creation as it touches on the sense of sound, this is something new to me. I then focus on visualizing "soundscapes", an intangible expression, exists in the mind and body. I fall in love with this, I also fall in love with Hip Hop culture, as well as the sub genre that is Lo-fi. 

So now, the bread and butter

Ugh, that took a while, condensing everything into a bite size snack for you. But it is very much needed because it explains the subject matter of the proposed installation and how/why I want to utilize ceramics into this.

Basically, I am doing a self portrait, or more a depiction of my experiences in life. I am feeding the viewer my thoughts and ideas and trying to convey my emotions onto them. To make the viewer feel what I felt and feel. I decided that an installation would suit this idea best, not only for achieving an experience, but by also creating an actual space for this accumulation of expression to exist in. This ties into my influence which is touched upon in the paragraph about 【VAPORWAVE】.

Early sketches of the proposal.

Left SIDE of sketchbook

The ceramic figurative sculpture depicted is divided into 3 components.

  1. The right hand (Raku firing)

  2. The left hand (White Gloss Glaze)

  3. The head (White Gloss Glaze

The Ceramic side of things

My original idea for this was a life sized figurative sculpture made out of epoxy clay or bronze. I then got realistic with this concept based on time constraints. I changed my composition so that it can be possible to create this out of ceramic. I split the main focal points into three sections of engagement that still depict the original expression of the sculpture, which is of sorrow. I'm proposing this as the semesters assignment as it still touches on the many topics we have to handle. My aim is to venture into this installation idea and create a body of work, maybe even create more installations with different emotions and expressions. I am planning to use what comes of this to apply to Chautauqua, the main reason I am doing this is much more personal though.

The ceramic body will all be made of the three techniques mentioned for this marathon assignment. I predict to use slab and pinch techniques for the arms and hands, coil for the fingers, and slip casting the head as it is not a center point in which to waste so much time on, especially as if to render it from scratch. 

I will use a clean, white glossy glaze over the face and left arm to resemble marble, and Raku the right hand to get a certain texture that carries over the static nature of the CRT TV as well as the mural backdrop that will set the space in. On top of this, the Raku fired right arm will be indicative of a tattoo sleeve that I am planning on getting over the next months/years. This also ties into a character I am building on about myself. This is something that I am building up on and it stems from the same narrative this installation is touching on. 

The mural backdrop is a continuation of the images depicted in the CRT TV. It will be a collage type narrative, but I am still deciding on what direction to take as I am still learning about how to use space and narritive within painting. 

The body portions are self referential, and they will be 1:1 life size. The mural will be 8 x 4 x 2 and will be on wheels. The pedestal will not be on wheels. The CRT TVs height will be eye level to the viewer, the pedestal will accommodate to this. Inside the pedestal will hide the VHS player and any electronics. The usage of this outdated technologies ties to the overall nostalgic experience. It also references its comeback in today's Hip Hop music videos.

Right Side of sketchbook

The installation is divided into 4 components. 

  1. Wall on wheels. (Grey block behind pink pedestal)

  2. Pink Pedestal

  3. CRT TV (Orange block)

  4. Three piece Ceramic figurative sculpture (Black segments on top of orange block)

Produced and edited by Manases.

The music side of things

This is a very rough demo of how a music video recorded on a VHS tape comprised of internet GIFs layered over a Lo-fi inspired track would look like. This would be playing on the CRT TV, through VHS, with the ceramic figurative sculpture invading the viewers sight and bringing them forward into my arranged space. This visual arrangement happening in the music video though, on accident, talks about sex, drugs, and death. I am very excited to further dive into this, tying and creating imagery and sound towards my personal experiences and thoughts.

I have over dozens of tracks recorded covering many emotions and ideas, I plan on creating a cohesively small EP that progresses sonically and visually through emotions all touching on the major points listed earlier.

  • Heartbreak

  • Being Lost

  • Individuality

  • Dysthymia

This is obviously not a happy experience, this is why the color palette, texture and sound all play major rolls throughout the mediums used.

Why the need for mural backdrops, sculptures, and music?

【VAPORWAVE】

This album cover, among hundreds of others, is the reason why I am inspired to glue together these three different mediums in the form of an installation. Lo-fi and Vaporwave aren't distant or opposing genres, its the narrative that changes between them. Lo-fi is more about naturalism, human emotions. Vaporwave is about commercialization, pop culture. What they share in common is the nostalgic factor, as well as the use of sampling and cultural appropriation. I find this very interesting as Vaporwaves narrative gets quite innovative and interesting even within its many sub genres.

This is what got me into the whole vibe of creating soundscapes. Vaporwave is atmospheric music that touches on the senses, especially that of a nostalgic experience. A good sub genre of Vaporwave is MALL SOFTIf you want to learn more about Vaporwave, this is a good place to start.

The funny thing is that Vaporwave came about as a joke, but it quickly became an internet phenomenon, created, formed, and shaped by internet culture. This ties back to what I stated in the beginning of this blog, and then some, this type of manipulation is even creating new narratives within itself.