FARMVILLE, Virginia — Based in a workshop studio partially made out of old shipping containers, Adam Paulek makes functional contemporary ceramics that invite us to build a story around them. There are just enough images on each of his plates to get us started — the rabbit sculpture that looks adorable and yet dressed for war, a grave with a weeping angel whose wilted, brittle flowers crest into a wave that looms over her.
Above image: Adam Paulek, A Very Difficult Fall, 2015, curved plates wall grid.
Paulek, as an author, keeps his voice at a distance, which means that the stories are individual. Read your own meanings onto them and realize that those may change over time. That’s what Paulek had in mind, anyway. He describes his work:
I look for the historical, cultural, and the contemporary significance of things made from clay. My work is a marriage of form and imagery in ceramics. The conversation of form is about fluidity, intuition, intention, grace and purpose.
The forms that I make are largely functional. The images that envelop them are generated from my own photography. The results are surreal narratives that are open to subjective interpretation. As you view and explore a piece, the significance of individual images and the overall story lines will change over time. My hope is to elicit an ongoing sense of surprise and foster an evolving relationship with the piece.
Paulek, according to his biography on Artaxis, is an assistant professor of ceramics at Longwood University in Farmville. He earned his BA in art at Buena Vista University, Iowa in 1999. Interested in clay, he moved to Asheville, North Carolina, where he worked under potter Hank Goodman for three years. He then received his MFA with an emphasis in ceramics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He created Mighty Mud Studios in Knoxville, a clay art center. He moved to Virginia in 2009 where he built his new studio partly out of old shipping containers. In 2012, Adam was the featured Salad Days Artist for Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Maine. In 2013 he was awarded the “100 Cup Artist In Residence” at Guldagergaard – International Ceramic Research Center, in Skælskør Denmark. In the summer of 2015, Adam was an artist in residence at Masion Des Mètiers D’Art De Quebec, in Quebec City.
Do you love or loathe these works of contemporary ceramics? Let us know in the comments.