November 9 - November 12, 2006
I use the chain mail pattern and other woven patterns to create ceramic works that conjure up a sense of permanence and defensive concealment. My most recent work expands into shapes that evoke landscapes and architectural elements. The shapes allow me to explore the interdependency of forms as structural support as well as forms defined by pattern and color. While the sections of the pieces appear to be flat and immobile, the whole piece and all its components are mobile and dimensional.
Mark Pharis’s work provokes discussions of form, meaning, process and function. The bowl, teapot or vase is not merely a canvas for decoration in his work, but possesses a strong formal identity and presence—one that stimulates and provokes the viewer to engage with the work of art from all sides. See June 2010 article in Ceramics Art and Perception #80: Mixed Metaphors:Mark Pharis at Lacoste Gallery, page 7, written by Rosti Eismont.
My art work flows from a basic desire to find and create meaning in my life. It is fueled by questions I ask myself concerning the realities I am confronted with. Process is essential to my work and begins with the medium of clay itself. Investigating and using clays from the local area locates me in a specific place and serves to bring to my awareness time as manifest in the moment. Working with raw clay and prospecting in the natural environment serves to keep me in tune with an earth centered and geologic time. The forming process, working on multiples and repetitively, is not unlike growth in nature. Clay must be worked at its own pace as its moisture is slowly evaporating regardless of the demands from outside. Firing functions in a similar way. The wood kiln must be slowly stoked for 7 days if the work is to be successfully transformed from clay to cultural artifact. The forms that my works take on are simple. They rely on a minimum amount of information and detail. They are constructed with a language of subtly, understatement, and restraint. In contrast to the majority of objects and images that we are bombarded with in our contemporary society they do not easily stand out or compete for attention and in this respect require the viewer to actively slow down. They have the capacity to be engaging on different levels and this is best accomplished when one allows the work to reveal itself over time. Utilitarian objects also require physical participation, such as drinking a cup of tea. These rituals of use are also embodiments of time. When I experience real joy I am aware of my mortality and the preciousness of the moment.
Exhibition Hall Navy Pier