Aloha Mr. Medansky

Since forming his own Los Angeles ceramics studio in 2012, artist Ben Medansky has been creating some of the most innovative ceramics of his generation. Having grown up in the Arizona desert and attended art school in Chicago, Ben found his way to the birthplace of modern craft, California. Here, he worked under prominent ceramicists such as Peter Shire, Kelly Lamb, and the Haas Brothers, while continuing to hone his craft and develop his own style. In mixing his love of the colors and textures of the Arizona desert landscape with the postmodern architectural sensibilities of southern California, he finds a unique way of defining structural forms. We are excited to sit down with Ben and discuss his future folk style.
KYLE NG: What’s your process of making your style of ceramics?

BEN MEDANSKY: There is a performance in making ceramics. Craft and skill are important and you end up with a final, robust object. I’m really interested in ceramics as a Postmodern craft. The idea of modern craft is interesting because it connects product design, fashion, pop-culture; all design is considered. Simply working in traditional ceramics doesn’t interest me. Some of the most inspiring things to me as of late is the architecture of Los Angeles. i love the mix of post modern and mid century buildings that you can find all around the city. The buildings themselves really inspire my work.

KN: You work is very original. Are you ever afraid that people will try to copy your work?

BM: I’m not afraid of being copied because I am always pushing my ideas to the next level and making things in my image. I’m working in one of the oldest mediums, so the idea of originality is different.

KN: In some of your work you can almost see natural forms. Some look like geodes and others look like organic body parts. Does nature influence you?

BM: Nature is really important to me, like desert textures and the shapes that geodes take. At the same time, I like to make bulbous, round objects as a way to contrast and revolt against the stark forms I always use. My Arizona upbringing inspires the shapes and materials I prefer. Porcelain doesn’t interest me. It’s too delicate. I’m inspired by well-made structures that have lasted for thousands of years. Form is the most important aspect to me.
KN: We have talked about the idea of future folk. What exactly is this concept to you?

BM: I try to add elements from my past into my work to expand the life of peoples’ ideas into the future. I’m interested in taking old materials and trying to make someting futuristic-feeling or something that can seem other-planetary, like out-of-this-world shapes or space goo. Think of a Jurassic future, a primordial progression where past, present and future meet. I don’t want people to pinpoint the era in which the ceramics were made. The space race is still alive and inspiring.

KN: There is an essence to your work… playfulness/humor?

BM: Humor and fun are important in my work and I want the objects I make to convey that. There is reason to be fun. The objects should seem playful yet functional. I will make a perfectly formed cylinder and then add a nub and call it a morning wood mug.

Native Tongue

These articles are official documents of the Department of New Thoughts. The Native Tongue is part of the continuing study of lite on Earth. The galaxy speaks and we jot it all down for all the Explorers, all the Folk and all the Feet of the world to consume. Free for all minds—wander into the wonderful.