Mary O’Malley: Bottom Feeders

“After receiving my BFA from The University of the Arts and living In Philadelphia I recently returned to my home near the ocean on Long Island, NY. Using my skills as a potter trained in traditional English and Japanese techniques I began to create a series of formal service ware in porcelain, my favorite medium. During this time I was also enjoying working on a scale that only the delicate properties of porcelain allow, creating intricate sea creatures that employed imagery inspired by childhood memories and my newly familiar surroundings next to the sea. The technical difficulties I began to encounter when enveloping the service ware with ferocious and unforgiving aquatic life got me thinking about a common need we all have to control our own representation of beauty. There is so much fastidious control involved in creating each one of the Bottom Feeder pieces, but with ceramics there is always a margin for error, and some degree of control must be sacrificed. The composition of barnacles and crustaceans populating each piece, the way the iron oxide discovers every nook of the creatures I’ve created, the way the tentacles warp in the firings, etc., is always a surprise. I’m never exactly sure how anything’s going to turn out. By allowing myself to be fully present in the creation of the different parts of these pieces but then giving in to the composition and glazing process gives each piece its own identity.

In the end, one type of beauty is enhanced by complementing its foil, resulting in two completely different aesthetics existing harmoniously as one piece. This play between total control and inevitability has sustained my interest and attention because it mimics life in so many ways: we try our hardest to compose the aesthetics surrounding us—from the buildings and environments we live in to the way we dress and present ourselves. Our daily fight against nature is a fruitless pursuit, yet one we never seem willing to abandon. I find this play between forces endlessly challenging. The dance that results from trying to find a balance between what we can control and what we cannot is where I believe true beauty lies.” – Artist’s Statement

big-bellied-pitcher-back

big-bellied-pitcher-other-side

big-pitcher-back

big-pitcher-other-back

big-pitcher-other-side

big-pitcher-side

four-cups-back

small-pitcher-front

teacup-nine

teacup-one

teacup-three

teacup-twelve

teacup-two

teapot

teapot-side

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