Branan Mercer is a ceramic artist who received a BFA from Auburn University in 2008 and has since attended a residency at The Craftsman House Gallery in St. Petersburg, FL and was studio manager The Kiln Studio and Gallery in Fairhope, AL. This new collection of tea bowls was presented by The Nevica Project.
Above Image: Branan Mercer, Teabowl, 2015, white stoneware, underglaze and glaze. Images courtesy of The Nevica Project.
Mercer’s contemporary pottery expands on the traditional Japanese tea bowl, imbuing it with a stunningly modern look. Mercer focused on simplification and elimination of distractions from his designs and the result is a series radiating with bold colors and a focus on the sensation of suspense.
Visually the form teases the viewer with anticipation. The subtle roll of glaze is carefully considered to further develop a feeling of suspense already established by the vessels lofty presence. It is as if they are frozen in a moment just before some breaking point; just before the contents spill over, or just before the integrity of the vessel is lost and collapses.
As this body of work progresses, I have found myself intrigued by the narrative that is developing within a series. Given the right pairing they begin to broaden the snapshot of climax, each piece moving to or from the direction of overflow, but never quite arriving. Again emphasizing a moment of suspense never brought to fruition.
The work balances between art and design functioning as bold pop décor when not in use. At first glance, the pots look incredibly precise, but Mercer leaves room for variation in forms and melting glaze giving the objects life. They are incredibly controlled, but not at all precise. The tea bowls predict the liquid that will soon fill them and the candy glaze coating sweetens the contents before you can taste your drink.
Justin Crowe is a Writer and Director of Operations at CFile.
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All Images: Branan Mercer, Teabowl, 2015, white stoneware, underglaze and glaze. Images courtesy of The Nevica Project