Many potters also make sculptural work and it can be quite obvious that both the sculptures and pots came from the same hand. Melissa Mencini makes crisp pots with brightly colored, patterned surfaces and gold decals of seemingly random objects: guns, bicycles, bees, airplanes. Her sculptures are based on antique medical instruments and her figurative works are based on medical anomalies in humans. All three of these bodies of work have very different surface finishes and even possess their own style and touch of the artist’s hand in each.
Mencini explains her pottery making, “I prefer to make smaller objects that one would tend to hold close, increasing the users understanding and furthering the investigation of the form.”
Mencini’s pots are tight in form and surface. Her presence creeps in through the brushstrokes of the underglaze patterns and slightly imperfect inlay. The use of stencils for patterning and decals for surface embellishment create a dialogue between the often unpredictable nature of clay and the complete, and perhaps obsessive, control of the maker. Such a clear intention for utility from the maker can create both an easier and more glacially interesting experience for the user as all of the great details lie in the subtlety of form, surface, and the hidden hand of the maker. Pots come alive through use. Mencini’s decal choices add a strange wonder to her simple seeming work. Is this revolver random? Does this bicycle mean something? Why is this old fashioned plane flying all over this plate?
Mencini speaks of seeing her pots be put to use, “It all becomes very playful communication: almost a game of flirting between the form, surface and the user.”
Mencini earned her BFA from Bowling Green State University in 2000 and her MFA from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 2003. She has been a resident artist at the Archie Bray Foundation and now lives and works in Austin, Texas.