Bario Neal interviews Jessica Hans and Anna Bario.
Jessica, you are known for your functional ceramic sculptures, but I read that you originally had a background in textiles. Does this still influence your work today?
J: Yes, it’s true that I previously worked in textiles. I studied textiles in undergrad and focused predominately in weaving and print design. I spend a lot of time thinking about pattern and surfaces through print design and weaving, and I incorporate a lot of those themes into the way that I work with clay. I typically include some type of pattern element on the surfaces of my objects and am very interested in extreme texture and glaze.
J: It’s really important to me that I retain some sense of functionality in the work that I make, even if it’s to the slightest degree. Many of my vase forms are barely functional, with a couple of holes spread almost randomly throughout the object or with glazes full of craters covering the surface. I prefer to balance right on the edge of sculptural art object while keeping the piece functional. The earring collaboration as well as the jewelry trays are are just that; I think of them as useable or wearable art objects.
J: I do often experiment with different additives in my clay bodies and glazes. I add foraged rock pieces to the wet clay as I’m building vases and sometimes mix gravel into clear glazes that I’m working with. At high temperatures some of the rocks and gravel begin to get glassy and melt out, especially the iron-rich bits. I have a couple of glaze recipes that I’ve come across in the past couple of years that are especially textured and weird. I use a lava glaze recipe for one of the earring styles.. it’s definitely one of my favorites. I work with these glazes alongside some very bright, fun commercial glazes that pop much more than the earthy crater recipes. I especially like the contrast between the two surfaces.
Working on a smaller scale for the earrings hasn’t been a problem. It’s been an interesting challenge because I typically prefer to work larger, but it’s a nice chance to step outside of my comfort zone and really focus on the small earring pieces. It’s been fun for me thinking about the relationship that the ceramic piece has with Anna’s earring stud. I keep this relationship in mind for each of the shapes that I make.