Ceramic artist Seth Charles understands his craft from start to finish. The marks he makes when throwing or attaching handles are done in a calculated way that anticipates the future. Using the raw wood fired surface is difficult to master because the smooth texture of the clay in the begining of the ceramic process is so radically different from the crunchy, unpredictable finished product – two states sometimes months apart. He elegantly pairs the two juxtaposing surfaces by embracing imperfection, a philosophy known as wabi-sabi.
Charles explains his influences,”My primary inspirations are the Japanese concepts of wabi and sabi that view imperfection and irregularity as forms of beauty. Shiho Kanzaki, in the History of Shigiraki Pottery, defines wabi and sabi as “the fulfillment of sensibility beyond the incompleteness of material things.”
Even Charles’ making process is infused with improvision, choosing forms based on where the clay seems to be leading him. This is a root of his practice, a true collaboration in which the best work is not the roundest, or cleanest, or shiniest, but radiates a sense of material, process, and creator.
“My pottery begins as wheel thrown and hand-built forms that are altered in various ways allowing the natural development of gesture and asymmetry. While I may have a preconceived notion of the form, I give myself the freedom to stop and reflect along the way, often times stopping before creating what I conceived, discovering the form during the making process.”
What do you think of Seth Charles’ wabi-sabi outlook? Tell us in the comments!