Luke Shalan is an artist and designer living and working in the USA. He examines both traditional and modern forms of production, seeking to reveal the nuances found in mundane processes. Working primarily with clay, Luke pushes the limits of the material, while continuing to master and utilize traditional forms of ceramic production. Through his work, he continually reminds us that we are physical beings living in a reactive and unpredictable space.
What have you rebelled against in the past, and what are you rebelling against now?
I’ve always appreciated material traditions, but find myself rebelling against many traditional methods of working with clay, utilizing its materiality in somewhat unorthodox ways. My practice acts as an expressive outlet to explore beyond the tried-and-true ways of using a material.
Do you need to be a rebel to enjoy your plates?
I don’t think so…. but maybe.
Do you use your own plates?
Sometimes, but there are so many good plates and dishes out there I prefer using other artists’ work.
Do you think dishware can still be improved? If yes, in what way?
There is always room for improvement, or at least change. People tend to define things very specifically, when in reality everything is only as specific as the language we assign to it.
What was the inspiration for your Steinbeisser series?
I was inspired by physicality, everyday objects out of context, and clay’s materiality.
Describe your work in 3 words!
Process-driven. Archival. Unpredictable.
What are you working on right now?
Currently I’ve been continuing to explore the slab dropping process, through different applications. I’ve created large installations of “slab dropped” cactus paddles. Developed a body of sculptural work titled Cubes, which applies a combination of hand building and slab dropping. And most recently, I’ve been playing with clays breaking point. Utilizing the gravity and weight involved in the slab dropping process as a means of tearing the clay at the point of most stress. With these experimentations, I’ve begun refining and designing wall hanging vessels for plants to grow in. Over time the plants will stretch for light and use the torn hole created by the process to access it, as if the plant has broken through the ceramic.
What kind of materials do you use and where do you get them from?
I use a variety of different clay bodies all sourced from the western USA.
What excites you about tomorrow?
The unknown. I’m always excited to see what’s next.
What has been your favourite dinner experience?
The Experimental Gastronomy was by far one of the most unique dinner experiences I’ve ever been a part of, but any homemade food with a good group of people makes me very happy.
What further ambitions do you have?
I hope to continue my pursuit of experimental, process-driven work long into the future. I truly enjoy getting my hands messy and letting material’s tendencies help dictate what I create. I want to question the idea of ’normalization’ and expose the magical beauty of simple things.