Erica Iman is an artist and ceramicist living and working in the USA. She makes hand-built, one-of-a-kind vessels that are often reflective of forms, surfaces, and fragments found in nature. She explores the raw material properties of clay and minerals and is continuously experimenting with these materials and mimicking natural processes to advance her work.
What have you rebelled against in the past, and what are you rebelling against now?
In the past, I sometimes turned my back on my own instincts and aesthetic sensibility to make work that I thought others would look at as skilled. My work is now deeply rooted in following my instincts and much of it is a response to the hurried and constantly busy world.
Do you need to be a rebel to enjoy your plates?
I think you just have to enjoy a sense of the natural world.
Do you use your own plates?
I rarely use my own work. Another potter once said that using their own work was like having a conversation with themselves, and that is why they mainly use pottery made by others. I guess this is partially why I tend to use others’ work.
Do you think plates can still be improved? If yes, in what way?
Oh sure, the world is constantly changing, so everything around us adjusts and new possibilities for dinnerware are ever-evolving.
What was the inspiration for your Steinbeisser series?
The plates I created for Steinbeisser were inspired by the beauty I find in raw earth materials and the amazing processes found in nature. The broken edges of mountains, the cracking of the the earth as it dries from the sun, and the calm of the soft blue glow found in a massive glacier are all inspirations for my work.
Describe your work in 3 words!
Raw. Geological. Calm.
What kind of materials do you use and where do you get them from?
I use a variety of materials such as porcelain and stoneware clays, powdered metals, crushed granite, and feldspathic glazes. I obtain most from purchasing raw materials from different companies who mine them and mix my own small batches to create the appropriate material for the work I am making. Occasionally I dig my own materials to add to my clay and glazes.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on more sculptural pieces for a solo show.
What excites you about tomorrow?
New experiments with materials and forms.
What has been your favourite dinner experience?
I had an amazing experience eating horhug, slow roasted meat, in the middle of nowhere on the Mongolian Steppe. It was cooked using heated stones placed in a metal can with sheep meat. We didn’t have to speak the same language with the Mongolians to enjoy a simply-based, no utensils meal out in the rugged landscape of Eastern Mongolia.
What further ambitions do you have?
I would love to create larger works, wall-based pieces, and see more of the world while making my artwork.