SCULPTORS OF PAPER PORCELAIN
In art, one thinks of sculptures in traditional media such as marbles and metals, but I’d like to introduce 4 artists who’s work is in pottery, cold-pressed porcelain and the fragile beauty of paper.
Ann is a Saint Paul, Minnesota based painter and mixed-media sculptor who uses paper to create flowers, food, and insects.
Her enthusiasm for art as a young child led her first to photography at the Hawkeye institute of technology and then to The Minnesota College of Art where she received a degree in fine art with an emphasis in sculpture and printmaking.
Later she went to The California College of Art and Crafts enjoying the creativity in textiles and weaving.
Ann’s mother played a large part in her early love of art, painting her room white and allowing her to paint whatever she wanted on the walls. Her confidence gave Ann the empowerment to value her own creativity.
Her father also inspired her with his love of plants. As a farmer, growing things was a big part of the family’s life, and so flowers felt universal to her.
She met her husband Dean Lucker at art school and together they won a grant to create a sculpture in downtown Saint Paul. People started calling asking to buy items that were incorporated into the installation, and their artistic collaboration led to them selling editions of their sculptures in large craft shows.
Over the next 10 years, they wholesaled their work nationally to museum and gallery shops and they then spent 10 years selling artwork at outdoor craft shows.
When Ann began sharing the art that she and Dean created on Instagram four years ago, she could see that other people were making flowers out of paper and thought she would like to give it a try.
She started making flowers by creating a simple feather, and without tutorials or books, she relied on her background as an artist to construct flowers, plants, and food.
She now works mainly from live plants, dissecting them to understand the shapes, then sculpting them in 3 dimensions.
For the last year, Anne has been creating flowers, food and insects for her botanical wall all created out of paper. She has a goal to expand the collection to 200 objects over the next year and exhibit them as an installation in museums in the future.
Anne’s current inspiration has been making paper food. She is always looking at the grocery store and trying to imagine how to make the beautiful produce she sees there.
Over the years Ann has made many bodies of work, paintings out of eggshells, coats out of felt and sequins, created mechanical pictures with her husband and so much more.
Her goal is to grow and adapt as time passes, using her creativity as a guide.
Clare Potter is a New York-based artist who has dedicated her life to creating individual works of art from nature. Her passion for gardening inspires her sculpture which is predominately of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Although influenced by the great porcelain traditions of the 18th century, her contemporary creations are more spontaneous; each work is a delicate and detailed arrangement that captures
both the beauty and the imperfections of nature.
Her work combines the finest craftsmanship with a lifetime of observation and study producing mesmerizing realism, often punctuated with insects and small parasites feeding off the flowers and leaves.
Potter attended the Parsons School of Design and attended sculpture classes while living in London, describing herself primarily as a self taught artist. She works both in low-fire earthenware and in high-fire white porcelain clay, sculpting each piece wet and then allowing them to dry before firing to a bisque stage. Her pieces are not assembled from multiple petals or leaves, as so many more commercial flower arrangements can be. Rather, Potter works her sculptures from the solid clay, molding and carving forms using her hands and the very simplest of tools.
She works alone, having no assistants in her studio, often taking many weeks to complete a single sculpture. Her works are finished with multiple layers of watercolor washes which she painstakingly applies to the porous surface of the fired clay, achieving a depth of color and pattern that closely reflects those found in nature, which is in contrast to the more traditionally seen glazed porcelains.
Her work has been featured in a number of books and magazines. She has exhibited in Paris, at the Moatti galleries, and in New York, both at Tiffany and at Mallett. Her work is widely collected both in America and in Europe.
Barbara Milo Ohrbach, Simply Flowers: Practical Advice and Beautiful Ideas for Creating Flower-Filled Rooms (New York: Clarkson Potter 1993)
Charlotte Moss, A Passion for Detail (New York: Doubleday 1991)
John Kelsey and Vena Lefferts, Floral Style: The Art of Arranging Flowers (Fairfield: Levin, Hugh Lauter Associates, 1998)
Tiffanie is forever moved by the specimens found in nature, the dynamism of a flower on the stem and in the vase, changing with the season or by the day, here one month then gone for the next eleven. Through her work, teaching, and public residencies, She has learned that the familiarity and accessibility of flowers and plants allows an “easy in” for people, and when the viewer is not afraid of the subject matter, it opens up numerous conversations. Using the accessible nature of botany, she wants to continue to have these dialogues to test the limits of our tolerance of fading beauty, of human vanity, human compassion and human-caused destruction, and to tell stories of the state of our environment.
Her sculptures depict the appearance of different plants, mostly the heads of flowers, to some degree of accuracy, in paper, using both realism and preternaturally large, sometimes metastasized forms. Through her works in paper she studies scale, texture (petals sometimes reading like feathers or fur) and color. Each piece can take between 250-400 hours to complete. She works with the rhythms and patterns found in nature, as well as the wonderful gestures formed by missteps and irregularities in nature like decay, rot, wilt, dormancy, death, and genetic and viral mutations like phyllody, petalody, and fasciation. She likes to bring the smallest things we take for granted or that might go unnoticed, like the shape of the smallest floret of a flower, right to the viewer’s face, when one may realize they never knew them at all.
Tiffanie’s work is informed greatly by her knowledge as an architect of construction and how things are put together. She draws inspiration of process from artists such as Tom Friedman and Lee Bontecou, and inspiration of content by the beauty and distress found in our declining natural environment. She is forever studying the paintings of 16th and 17th-century Dutch master painters, the botanical work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and the bizarre and repulsive yet undeniably masterful work of contemporary painter Christian Rex Van Minnen.
It is too simple to just say Tiffanie wants to use her work to depict the “new vanitas”, as the world is fraught as much as ever with the destructive nature of discovery, conquest, and capitalism. It spreads so far and wide, through our disappearing environments, and comes too close to home with our medical afflictions, continued societal oppressions and shocking violence. But she can use the asymmetrical movement of an inexplicably large and somehow distressed or deformed head of a flower to tell some tales of the beauty and transience, of life, and the perfect, gigantic head of a flower to offer some hope.
Tiffanie was born in 1970 in Colonie NY and raised in the woods of New Hampshire.
She received her Bachelor of Architecture from Renssselaer Polytechnic institute in 1995 and worked as an architect for over 15 years before beginning her career as a botanical sculptor.
She received a Zellerbach Family Grant award in 2016 to support her work as an artist in residence at the De Young Museum, San Francisco where she has lived for over 20 years.
Tiffanie is an instructor in the art of papermaking and her book The Fine Art of Paper Flowers was released on Ten Speed Press in August 2017.