Melanie Sherman’s work references exclusive and precious porcelain wares from 18th-century Europe.
“In my work I try to capture the qualities for which porcelain has been known since its discovery in China: whiteness, translucency, and resonance. I am attracted to the enameled and lustered surfaces of the Baroque, Renaissance and Rococo porcelain designs, as well as to elaborations on structural elements of these time periods. I am investigating surface decorations and embellished shapes in order to gain more knowledge for my own studio practice. I am interested in incorporating and referencing historic drawings, motives, and patterns into my work.”
Studying the history of ceramics Melanie Sherman has been captivated by the relationship between East and West, and how they continue to influence each other, especially through the ceramic arts. Although there might be considerable differences between the two civilizations, the cultural exchange between them is an important connector of history and has produced a long and rich exchange of ideas between artists and makers. Asian craft traditions have been handed down to the West and the handmade aspect, even within the factory setting, is still an important concept that allows for control of design and quality by the artist, which is essential within craft of the West.
In her photographs Melanie Sherman is experimenting with groupings of different objects with my porcelain pieces.
“I combine contrasting materials, textures, colors, and investigate the visual context of a compilation of items which depict objects symbolic of excess, waste, and decay. They are reminiscent of death and the transience and vanity of earthly achievements and pleasures. Inspirations for these photographs come from “vanitas”, still-life paintings from the early 17th century to the Baroque, where mortality is captured permanently in an arrangement of objects, including special porcelains from the East. The porcelain vessels that I make represent these early import wares from Asia, which were treasured in Europe at the time and eternalized in these paintings. In the photograph they give an illusion of permanence but are a reminder of the inevitability of death; “memento mori”.