67P: creating ceramic sculptures by Ekaterina Smirnova

When you go to a museum or a gallery, you usually only see the final end product. You judge it by the way it looks at that moment in it's final appearance. To me, the actual process of creation is the most exciting part of any artwork which may influence my opinion on an artwork. I always try to investigate how it was done. 
In this post I would like to take you behind the scene and introduce you to the stages of creation of my new ceramic sculptures. In between the many stages, starting from generating the idea, shaping the sculptures in my mind and sketching on paper, then forming them out of clay, firing, glazing and assembling, all of it is a part of each piece, which makes it a complete artwork, with an experience.

These ceramic pieces are inspired by the comet 67P, a project on which I have been working on for for over a year (see paintings). The rock part of my sculptures represent the comet itself and the white cones – water, found on the comet in the shape of ice. This water evaporates when the comet passes close to our Sun. 

I just recently started working with ceramics and this whole experience is intensified since I am studying about the media as I go. After working with porcelain and stoneware individually, I realized that I could combine the two in one sculpture. The complication was that porcelain and stoneware shrink with a different rate when fired, so when the objects are made out of raw clay and designed to be match-fit, after firing they may not match when combined. This was an interesting puzzle to solve. Below is an image of how my table would look like at my ceramic studio in 92nd Street Y, New York.

Glazing pieces was a whole independent subject of itself. I wanted to mimic the textures of the comet. I decided to leave the white cones as pure porcelain without a glaze. But for the rock part I looked at actual meteorites (image below). 

Here is a documentation image of my glazing record. Each glazing layer (could be 2-5 glazings) was recorded for the future record. When ceramic is fired, it is very hard to predict the outcome and I enjoy the non-predictive nature of ceramics. Assembling the sculptures is also fun. For this particular work some porcelain parts were made to fit exact areas of the rock, the rest where matched later on. I used the epoxy glue to unite the pieces.

Photographing works. Each piece of my work is photographed for the record. But who says it could not be art on itself? Photograph is a way to turn a 3D object into 2D. With a photograph you can create a special mood, which is hard to recreate during the exhibition time, due to the environments offered by the the gallery. A photograph can tell a richer story, while you enjoy the three-dimensionality of a sculptural piece when observing it in person. For this set of works I choose to give it a cosmic look. The lights would be extreme, surrounded by darkness, as if my comet would be flying through space in a cold lonely environment.

There is a story that goes along with the actual European Space Agency's project when they landed a robotic probe on the comet 67P. When the probe ran out of the charge, it fell asleep for a few month since it could not re-charge being positioned on the dark side of the comet where sun does not shine. Scientists were waiting for the comet to turn and eventually in the summer 2015 we started to receive more fascinating data from the probe.