Highway Sake

Highway Sake, ceramic, 2007

Alisa Holen earned a B.A. in studio art from Augsburg College in 1990, opening a ceramics studio in 1992.  Holen attended the University of Iowa for graduate school.  She is currently a visiting assistant professor in ceramics at the University of Iowa. She will work at the Mississippi University for Women as head of the ceramics department starting in Fall 2008.

Of her art Alisa says, "Beyond the pliant and responsive properties of clay, the quality that I find most fascinating is its ability to trap air.  This ability can be destructive if it goes unchecked, but it is enchanting if handled with care.  By throwing closed forms on the wheel, I am able to use the clay as a "skin" that surrounds the air.  I can then alter the inflated forms.  When the wet forms are manipulated with air inside, a push on one side means a bulge in the other. The air acts as an internal support system, making the forms resilient to collapse while still being extremely sensitive to alterations. Pushing too far results in splitting so attentiveness is essential.  Experimentation with this process continues to be both challenging and inspiring.

Formal three-dimensional relationships are critical in this work.  The interaction of concave with convex, rough crackle with smooth satin and swelling volumes with dark voids provide captivating visual associations.  Beyond this, are the functional relationships inherent in the work.  Historically, the functional vessel is at the core of the ceramic arts. The word function implies human interaction and purpose. I have made these vessels so they will function most successfully in association with their counterparts.  The cup will tip if it is put down on a table.  It must be returned to its pillow like saucer.  By creating a dependency in the work, the user must pause and consider the use of the object.  When this occurs, a relationship is formed.  In the utilitarian operation of these pieces, where the interaction between the user and the object takes place, the relationship metaphor is fully realized."

Alisa Holen's website

This page was first displayed
on June 03, 2008

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