Ceramist Mindy Horn’s believes that a life, an idea, or a work of art all begin with perfection, or as she puts it “an untested plan of what they are meant to be.” In the course of development, as each are nurtured and buffeted by forces beyond their control, they are constantly mutating in order to grow and survive. In her work, it is precisely this mutability or ability to adapt an altered blueprint that creates complexity and deeper layers of meaning.
As a material, porcelain (Horn’s medium of choice) has usually been regarded as the most idolized type of pottery for its strength and the delicate purity of its white color. For many years Horn worked as a paper conservator, a meticulous occupation that requires not only mastery over an acute set of techniques, but also a scientific understanding of the material and how it behaves. Porcelain and paper are kindred materials. Both are fragile, transformable, and respond fundamentally to touch. Over time, both materials physically record their own history.
Part of Horn’s artistic process is to place stresses on the clay, forcing it to respond and change. Her sculptures primarily take on one of two forms, vessels or wall reliefs.
The non-functional vessels, purposely thrown off center, appear to have grown and weathered organically, rather than have been created by hand. The surfaces of the vessels, crusty or cracked, emphasize the crooked, uneven forms. While their appearance seems to contradict porcelain’s typical convention of perfection, it is the material’s strength and elasticity that allows Horn to give each vessel its uniqueness.
The painstakingly constructed wall reliefs are composed of minuscule, seemingly identical pieces. Within the medallions, each tiny, hand-formed component’s individuality is lost within the larger picture. Each work is a celebration of imperfection, created by the combination of intention and chance.
In Horn’s hands the imperfect becomes more significant than the perfect, asking the viewer to examine what is common in all of us and to celebrate the complexity of our differences.