Sculptor Dave Hicks—Still Life

North Carolina based David Hicks is a sculptor who creates works complimentary of nature and organic forms. The American Museum of Ceramic Art in Los Angeles and the United States Embassy Permanent Art Collection celebrates David’s work as it continually expands into new frontiers, reestablishing traditional notions about the ceramic arts.

David Hicks assembles multiple pieces and varying weights on custom forged hooks that carry the weight of his pieces and unify his work into a singular construction. David’s work is fluid, and though his work presents itself without physical movement, his pieces appear to be moving all the time. Fortunately, I caught up with David Hicks, a prolific creator who has been evolving his latest work, “Still Lifes.” (Featured, Still LifeVivid, Terra Cotta, Cable, Steel, Hardware, 70 x 39 x 20," 2011)

mM : Are you utilizing copper or is it a metallic based glaze that offers the copper look and feel? Please explain :

Dave Hicks : The forms are made of clay, glazed and fired in the kiln. The fired pieces are then coated with Luster, a chemical solution containing dissolved copper. Once coated, I fire them again to activate the luster so that it fuses to the glazed surface, leaving behind a micro thin coating of copper. This process is comparable to the metal trim you see on the outer rim of fine china.

mM : What was the point of inspiration that inspired you to first apply metallic glazes and finishes to your pieces? Does the metallic works harmonize with the more earthy, organic looking sculptures?

Dave Hicks : I’m not sure if the metallic finish does anything differently with an organic form than it does with a machined form. I don’t really think about it in that way.

For me the metallic surface has a way of neutralizing the “ceramic,” making the piece be more about the form and surface color, and less about “glaze type.” That’s what first drew me to metallic finishes. I wanted the conversation to be more about first impressions: color, surface quality and formal observations and not necessarily about glazes, chemistry or ceramic history.

The metallic finish has a reach that is greater than clay alone, unlike glaze. I understand there’s a history behind all ceramic achievements and don't want this to be in the forefront of conversation about my sculptures made of clay. Clay some times comes to the table with too much baggage. For me, when I remove the traditional glaze in some of my work and rely on lusters—it allows the work deviate away from the traditional ceramic baggage. This allows the viewer to approach the work from a neutral viewpoint, in the hopes of discovering something new.

I guess I could also say that the use of a single color/finish allows the work to merge and harmonize, creating a piece that is more about the sum of its parts. (Featured, Still Life August, Glazed Ceramic, Luster, Hardware, 46 x 21 x 15," 2011)

mM : What relationships between the objects you create are you looking for?

Dave Hicks : Lately in my work the relationship between the objects seems to revolve around a sense of formal balance. I usually start with a piece that just comes out of my hands while playing with the clay. My hands make and produce a variety of shapes and at some point the process of building stems from objects spurred in the first few pieces. Each one, in some way or shape, compliments each other. Thin pieces go with the fat ones, long ones with short ones, promoting a good mix of forms that satisfies my eye. It is for me a somewhat primal desire to create a collection in this fashion. Almost always the first piece I create becomes the nucleus that all the other objects get their formal considerations.
(Featured, Still Life Gold, Ceramic, Luster, Twine, Steel, 53 x 14 x 10," 2011)

mM : Do you have a working title for the series of sculptures you have been creating that hang off of the walls in unified mass? What inspired you to begin investigating this body of work?

Dave Hicks : The series of pieces I compose and hang on the wall are “Still Lifes.” They are titled this because they become something to visually investigate. An opportunity for the viewer to get lost in—form, balance, line, negative space, surface, tension—all of the possibilities that make objects interesting to look at. My “Still Lifes” are a way for me to create complexity within large groups of singular objects. I like the notion that each singular object looses its impact when contrasted to the end composition.

The things that interest me now about this body of work are the same things that interested me when I initially began. I didn’t know how to bring my way of operating with single simple objects together yet. I wanted a way that I could work rapidly, creating simple, little, and beautiful objects without thinking much of their function/purpose as an art object. I just want to play in short bursts with a piece of clay in an effort to create pleasing lines, surfaces and forms. I wanted to react and then reflect later. I would do this—build and create, then think about what to do next with my collection of objects.

After a few attempts to make sense of my sculptural collections I jumped onto the wall. It was always there but never a venue I thought to play with for my object collections. I just began to add string and wire to hang the objects on a single nail. I wanted to see them up and off the table—hanging, like a sinker on a fishing line. It wasn’t long before I started piecing things together and creating layers of forms suspended above and below each other to create a new opportunity to play and create unique shapes and forms.

The work has since evolved a great deal, but the core principals and my desire to create this type of work remain. (Featured, Still Life Copper, Glazed Ceramic, Luster, Rope, Hardware, 47 x 20 x 12," 2011)

To see more of Dave Hick’s work, please visit his website and the Mindy Solomon Gallery for available works. Thank you kindly, Dave Hicks and we look forward to your continued success. (Featured, Still Life Cold Ground, Terra Cotta, Glaze, Steel, Hardware, 47 x 20 x 12," 2011)

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