News: Kowalczyk

Studio Visit with Joe Kowalczyk

By Ashley L. Voss

Art Attack SF interviews Joe Kowalczyk about his Skull Rattles that
are on display at the gallery! View the collection on our website.


How did the Skull Rattles come to be?
At some point in 2003 I began making ceramic skulls to use as surface experiments for glazes. I found I could experiment as much as I wanted on an object such as the skull, in some cases even ruin, and the skull would still look interesting.  It liberated me, and gave me permission to experiment with multiple firings, alternative surface treatments, and glaze application of various thickness and colors. When sculpting these skulls, nothing is planned, adding to the element of experimentation.  The skulls become more like three-dimensional sketches, as I play with proportions, facial features, and expressions. Years later I began making them rattle, which gave a voice to each skull depending on the thickness and type of clay used.  Each skull is a one-of-a-kind celebration of fun and spontaneity; the result being permanent glimpses of ugliness and beauty captured in this fine medium of ceramics.

What is inside the skulls to make them rattle?
Broken dreams.

Is there any significance in the works rattle/sound component?
I do like the idea that sound can either invite in or scare away spirits from the material world.  Making that association and even pretending that the skull possess such abilities, I find exciting.  I've been experimenting with a variety of ways to manipulate the sounds of each rattle.  Although I'm not certain the rattle may influence the spiritual world, I've found that the sound can influence the overall look and feel of the skull, whether a lighter or denser sound is produced.

What is an average day in the studio like for you?
Average day in the studio begins with a meditation piece.  A meditation piece is a project in my studio which doesn't have a deadline and doesn't require too much thought or decision making; I can sit down and just make at a relaxed pace.  This has been a helpful practice as the meditation piece allows me to separate myself from my daily life and submerge into studio time.  At the moment my meditational piece is a 18in x 24in pen and ink drawing which has been in the works for a few months now.  After 30 - 60min of working on my meditation piece I'll begin working on one of my priority deadline projects, whatever that might be at the time.

What is the most indispensable item in your studio?
With sculpting, my most indispensable item is my kiln, since I use buy hands to sculpt.  In terms of drawing, my most indispensable item would be my set of Micron pens.

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