Divisible By Eight : One Thousand Porcelain Octopus Tentacles

Divisible By Eight: One Thousand Porcelain Octopus Tentacles

Artist Statement

I was once asked, “As an artist, where do you get your ideas from?  Do you get them off of Pinterest?”  This question seemed so odd that it took me a while to answer, “No, I have spent my life training my brain to come up with creative solutions.” I breathe creativity into my work by evolving, changing and never being satisfied.  If I am too comfortable I might change my location, my medium or my subject matter.  This approach enables me to flow between mediums such as vinyl, ceramics, and video allowing the concept and the medium to partner for an intense visual experience.

Perhaps the most constant theme that endures is the idea of multiplicity.  My brain tingles when I see forms and images in endless quantities.  If you were around in the early 1980’s, you might remember the “Generic aisle” at the grocery store.  For a short period of time, all generic items had black and white, text-only labels that created a wonderland of repetition.  This unintended “art installation” in my small town made a profound impression on my concepts of beauty and order.  For example, fast forward to 2010 when I exhibited Mirror, Mirror at the Dallas Contemporary. This exhibition of vinyl works on panel explored gender roles in art through the patterning of adult images, rendered in a flat, graphic style.  The multiplicity of forms gave a nod to traditional craft media in which women were, and are, encouraged to participate, but the sexual nature of the imagery posited questions of exploitation vs. empowerment.

My use of multiplicity in non-traditional craft media began five years later, after the unexpected loss of my father. In response to my grief, I created an exhibition of one thousand octopus tentacles that projected from the wall. Hand-making each porcelain tentacle created a meditative studio experience that gave my mind room to heal during the 12-month process of making this piece. 

I learned some core lessons about my studio practice when I returned to clay in 2015.  I learned that creating multiples and assembling them into installations allows me to work in small bursts throughout the day.  I don’t need a large window of time to create work and this makes me impressively productive. I learned that process is critical to my practice and I enjoy developing the process just as much as seeing the finished product.  I also learned that freedom comes from structure.  I generally see the finished installation in my mind before I ever step into the studio, but the structure and routine required to execute the piece balances my mind. 

My most current work explores a non-traditional slip-casting technique to create large, pixilated murals.  It’s a fascinating process with many avenues to explore. However, I look forward to what might be next as I explore new media, technology and concepts.

Jen Rose 2018