Brian O'Neill

Brian O'Neill

Artist Statement:

I find great satisfaction working with basic raw materials that can be coaxed, nurtured if you will, into objects that have shape and balance - a rhythm in their proportion, scale and surface texture. It is my hope that some of these universal rhythms of nature are embodied in my pieces, evoking the simple strengths that reside in stone and the natural landscape. Most of my forms are vessels. While not always “functional” in the traditional sense, each piece has an interior and an exterior. The visible form and the more hidden space inside is an anthropomorphic relationship I enjoy exploring. Each piece comes into existence and develops a personality as it evolves - much like all of us. My inspirations are a varied mixture. I’ve got this wabi-sabi meets mid-century modern thing going on, what I’m calling “Modern Primitive”. But all western studio potters and ceramicists must pay homage, no matter how far afield they’ve moved, to the centuries of Asian potters that unlocked the mysteries of clay. For me, any design process involves the relationship of shape, form and color–architecture, fashion and industrial design all inform my vessels as well as the natural world. You can’t beat nature for color schemes! Technique Random texture and very intentional form make up the body of my work at this time. I use a very coarse clay body and scrape each piece to pull out the texture. All work begins on the potter’s wheel and many of the forms are altered and reassembled. My glazes and the application of them work to enhance the texture. By brushing many layers of glaze over the darker oxides underneath I can build a variety of color tones. The work is red to 2232° in an oxidation environment using an electric kiln, transforming the clay to a durable stoneware.

Bio

I hold a BA in Fine Art from Western Washington University and carried a dual major in ceramics and visual communications. And while my heart was wedded to clay, I pursued a career in graphic design which has taken me to Chicago, Los Angeles and eventually Seattle. While living in a two-dimensional world of typography, photography, color, paper and now the digital realm, I always kept a hand in the mud and maintained a ceramic studio wherever I lived. I came to see that design principles translate across all platforms and dimensions and began thinking I might one day get back to the 3D world of clay. That day came in 2001. I left my urban ways, sold my house in Seattle and moved to rural Whatcom County, WA making the transition to a life in clay. My work is represented nationally by galleries and museums and is included in numerous permanent collections. I also exhibit and sell my work at a handful of regional art shows. Most recently I had the privilege of participating in the Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, D.C.

Brian O'Neill