These Ceramic Objects Are Rooted In Visual Symbols

“Now that we’ve found love what are we gonna do with it?” reads Michele Quan’s Instagram bio. A cryptic message, but so are her ceramic objects. According to Quan’s website, many of the objects and images are rooted in the visual symbols of Eastern iconography – their meaning and beauty of which she admits she’s continuously in awe. 

Her clay forms are all handmade — either hand built or thrown on the wheel, after which they are hand-painted. The work is then fired in a gas kiln to 2,350 degrees. Other materials used include hand-dyed cotton, hemp rope, and reclaimed wood. The finished products are meant to be showcased either in the home or the garden.

“When making things I have to see it in my head first,” she relayed in an interview with Matter of Hand. “Some people just go for it and it evolves, but for me it’s weird – I have to see it in my head or I don’t believe I can do it. I have to be able to see the process linearly. Once I figure out how to make something the first time I’ll make a template so that I don’t have to re-think it every time. If you have to think too hard it’s more exhausting.”

The pieces themselves become a canvas for her love of drawing, painting, text, and color; with inspiration found in the writings and teachings of Buddhism and its extensive visual language. “I’m not making work to challenge people,” explains Quan. “I just hope that at a moment in their life, customers could have pleasure from looking at or owning an object that I made. I feel like anything I say is going to sound corny, but I want my pieces to create moments where people look back at their intentions and how they want to operate in the world, what they wish to see or have or be or connect with. Just bringing them back into the present and connecting them to the beauty of the world; that’s a moment where everyone feels really good. It’s like touching ground before you go off into the craziness.”

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