NEW YORK––Working in sculpture, ceramics, video and installation, Trevor King‘s artistic practice materializes questions relating to identity, labor, art and entropy.
According to his artist bio, King’s experience growing the son of a western Pennsylvania steelworker––having witnessed the regional post-industrial transformations––directly informs his practice.
His artwork responds to this moment, stimulating feelings of entropy and stillness, and demonstrating a search for the transcendent within this landscape.
In his latest ceramic series, Notions (My Grandfather’s Pots), King actualizes the ideas his grandfather, Roy Mellott, a 78 year-old retired truck driver, began drawing-up for him in 2011 when King was a student at Slippery Rock University and just beginning his journey as ceramic artist.
Around this time, my grandfather began asking me a lot of questions about my artwork. He wanted to know if I was selling the things I was making, how much I would charge for them, if I wanted to set up a store, etc. His questions were open-minded and curious. He was genuinely interested. He, like many people, wasn’t quite sure how artwork was valued, or even defined, especially within our rural community.
One day, my grandfather was watching Antiques Roadshow when he saw a ceramic vase appraised at a couple thousand dollars. This gave him a simple idea— I should make that vase. He pulled open a word search book and made several sketches on the blank pages within the front and back covers, thinking that if I made that same piece, I ought to be able to sell it for the same amount.
King explains the next time they visited together, his grandfather shared with his some of his drawings, which King called “loose, proud, imaginative, and much better ideas than the vase he was trying to render.” That was the moment he decided to make the forms his grandfather envisioned––it was the start of an ongoing artistic dialogue which challenged the status quo and art valuation.
I fell into this project through making pottery, an art form that has an uncanny way of influencing the sometimes awkward and shape-shifting conundrum of how art functions in the world. When my grandfather began asking questions about sales, he was equally addressing this concept and asking, “What does culture value?” With neither of us quite able to find the answer to that question, and neither of us totally interested in it, he simply imagined his own solutions and started drawing. This is what an artist does.
Roy Mellott passed away in January 2016. King adds his artistic process is a continuation of that dialogue and is a tool of remembrance.
If there was one part of my grandfather’s spirit that I most admired, it was his ability to see the absurdity in the patterns of our lives. He held little regard for the status quo, and always insisted that there are infinite chances to intervene, to shift those patterns, to shape your own experience. By making these things I am introducing that attitude into the world.
Read the entirety of King’s artist statement here.
About the artist: King received a BFA from Slippery Rock University (2011), a MFA from the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan (2015), and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan, Poland (2010). His work has been informed by residencies at Touchstone Center for Crafts, Ox Bow School of Art, Haystack Mountain School, and Sculpture Space NYC. In 2014, King was awarded an International Institute Fellowship to work under British sculptor Antony Gormley. In 2015, King’s work was awarded an Outstanding Student Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center. King is currently a Studio Technician and Instructor at Greenwich House Pottery and the Ceramics Technician at Tom Sachs Studio.