Kip O'Krongly draws on the broad use of functional ceramics to spark conversation and encourage thoughtful awareness of the objects and issues we encounter in everyday life. With low fire clay, slips, stencils and scraffito decoration as her visual framework, O'Krongly explores her interest in the intertwining and complicated connections between food production, transportation and energy use. Through the meditative process of constructing pots by hand she finds a restful place to consider what she illustrates, how she groups imagery and what those combinations come together to express. These intertwining issues imprinted into malleable clay are morphed by heat into moments documented in usable stone – permanent visual records of our influence on and our connection to our environment.
O'Krongly's work in ceramics flows from a rich history of communicating social issues via the ceramic object. From the widely studied black and red vessels of Ancient Greece, to the contemporary Yixing teapots created by Richard Notkin, clay has long been used to relate to and comment on the modern-day political climate. Quite often, however, this work resides distinctly outside of the everyday, removed from contemplative moments while we sip our coffee or share a meal. O'Krongly designs her work, on the other hand, to reside squarely in this realm of daily existence, bringing subtle awareness to our often mundane and routine rituals.
The work of imbuing ceramic objects with a political message in a palatable format remains an intriguing and challenging aspect of her studio practice. Sarah Archer states in “Kitchen Table Politics,” “People buy things for their homes that communicate to visitors and reinforce a self image they hold or want to hold. An object…will be used, admired and shared with guests to spark conversation.” Through the general comfort with and widespread understanding of the essence of hand formed pottery, she finds an unassuming vehicle to present larger, sometimes unpleasant issues. And with a careful partnering of contemporary imagery with warm, inviting form this work serves as a reminder to slow down, reflect on and consider the interwoven nature of our lifestyle choices and the broader world around us.
6858 Paoli Road • Paoli, Wisconsin 53508 • 608-845-6600 • Located just southwest of Madison