Brianna Tarnower is the artist behind Thinker Ceramic Arts.
There is also a scientist behind the artist; a thinker whose thoughts shape clay.
Brianna's understanding of reality down to the atomic scale
fuels her to experiment with form, function and abstraction in the macroscopic.
Perceptions bend as both hands and brains sculpt theoretical realms into
tangible objects. Each piece is a foray into unexplored territory,
guided by what is imagined and what is real,
with an invitation to join.
These works of art are equally works of science.
Brianna's merging of artistic and scientific inquiry results in
thought-provoking creations that spark the joy
of mystery and discovery in daily life.
There are two divergent compartments to my practice, one grounded in the visual arts and the other in craft. The boundary that separates these spaces; however, is a permeable membrane through which energy is generated and harnessed as ideas pass from one space to the other.
My visual arts practice aims to create large-scale ceramic artwork that brings complex biological and geographical concepts to life. My goal is to bring the beauty of abstract scientific knowledge – from microscopic and biochemical to topographic and electromagnetic – into tangible forms in a way that engages the viewer and creates experiential understanding. Far from dry and analytical, as reading a textbook or journal article might be, the work I create inspires wonder, curiosity, presence of mind, and equanimity. Unlike science, the work does not aspire to exclude the sociologic, politic, economic, and ecologic underpinnings and emanations, and sometimes reflects a deep critique or celebration of the interplay of these forces in real time.
Each sculptural and functional collection of work is centered around a concept, and then many iterations of the concept are explored. Working within the design construct, my techniques evolve and refine and divaricate, creating variation through reproduction much like the process of natural selection. And like natural selection, no one outcome represents the pinnacle of the collection, but rather another evolutionary branch on the phylogenetic tree-of-life shaped by my practice environment. A collection is intended for display as a group – suspended from the ceiling, hanging on the walls, arising from the floor and podium – filling a room in order for the viewer to be fully immersed in the experience. Nevertheless, the craftsmanship in each piece also allows for individual work to be displayed on its own to full effect. These pieces are intended for public exhibition and for private collectors, marketed by galleries and fine arts fairs.
My craft practice is geared towards making smaller easily marketable pieces that allow customers to bring personalized ceramic art into their homes. Craft collections currently include hand-painted (and/or illuminated; in development) three-dimensional holiday star ornaments and customizable functional keepsakes (plates, handprint soap-dishes, dog bowls; in development). The ideas guiding my craft collections are the same as in my visual arts practice – using biology, physics, and math to inform my designs – but the time invested must be balanced by marketability and cost for a broader audience. I hope to be an innovator in the world of craft through the integration of technology with tradition. These pieces are intended for sale in online markets, on my website, and at craft shows and pop-up shops.
As I grow as an artist, I expect the places where these two practices converge to get really interesting. I can see whole rooms filled with the ceramic hands of children, reaching for growth and understanding. Similarly, a hallway of illuminated stars. Beyond these visions with what I already am making, I have a list of 40+ functional and/or sculptural collections waiting in the wings for me to have the time and resources to make them.
I began sculpting in clay as a teenager, and recently returned to it when Art began calling me back as a career path. Currently, my preferred media to craft ideas into form is clay. In both my visual arts and craft practices, my relationship with clay is always finding new depths. As I push traditional methods and the limits of the material to meet my vision, the clay schools me and refines me. In the past, I utilized costume design and performance art (HelioLab Arts, 2000-2006), as well as academic writing, in order to enlighten, empower, and inspire others with my unique interpretations of the world.
Though I use a variety of clay techniques, my current collections are hand-built using slabs. Before construction, slabs undergo manipulations – carving, cutting, twisting, pattern generation – using custom tools and sketches that prepare the slab to convey the intended effect once built. I also use plaster mold and slip casting techniques. I plan to incorporate more mold-making and casting into future works, as well as move my practice into casting metals. The community studio I use for clay firing currently only does mid-range glaze firing to Cone 6, so I work within that restraint for now. In addition to glaze and underglaze, I employ acrylic methods for adding color and depth.
- nature and science inspired art - large scale ceramic sculpture - three dimensional sculptural wall art -