Phyllis Savage

category: Visual,

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Artist Statement

My ceramic sculptures express the human condition, its cruelty, folly and overarching accomplishments.  They are intended to catalyze emotion and thought by examining the profound socio-political issues of our time.  Heavily influenced by the magnificent simplicity of Japanese aesthetics, they project quiet beauty and power that derives from firmly grounded forms, clear, simple, fluid lines and minimally adorned surfaces. Much of the work indulges my fascination with the astonishing power of the human mind to perceive facial images even when only the slightest suggestion of a face actually exists. Neurobiologists have recently identified a specific region of the cerebral cortex dedicated to the recognition of faces which is responsible for this potent ability.  But, artists have long invoked this phenomenon as is evident in ancient sculptures of the Cycladic Islands down through the work of so many artists of the twentieth century.  Now, in the twenty first century we can reinvigorate this concept, which I call “Neuro-Sensationism”, with recognition of its physiological foundations and the implications it has for both science and art.

Educational Background

I started making ceramics to relieve the intensity of my work as a corporate attorney.  Slowly, surreptitiously, ceramics consumed ever more of my time and attention.  At a turning point in my legal career, I decided to devote myself fully to the art that I love and I have never looked back.  I devoured countless books and sharpened my skills with the guidance of many talented ceramic artists.  I attended the College of Ceramics at Alfred University, studied in Japan with renowned Shigaraki artists, then at the Haystack Mountain School, Hood College and the Archie Bray Foundation.  I have returned to Japan numerous times to advance my knowledge of contemporary ceramic innovations.  So much of what I have learned parallels what I already knew about materials, reactions and processes from my years of work at a chemical company.  The depth and diversity of my ceramic studies have enabled me to incorporate a broad array of techniques into my work.  My extensive international travels exposed me to a wealth of extraordinary ceramic art.  Along the way I developed a profound respect and appreciation for this ancient, enduring art form, as well as the technical complexity of ceramic materials.  The fluidity of moist clay gives it a versatility that cannot be matched by any other medium.  Its remarkable plasticity, delicacy, endurance and its unlimited potential for creating form, size, color, texture, visual temperature and surface, makes clay unparalleled as the material of choice for my work.   My work has been exhibited in Japan, London and throughout the United States.