August 2018 - Present
Ceramic artist Sharif Bey’s commissioned work Flora resembles a large-scale necklace with bright red dots punctuating the otherwise pastel palette of yellow and pink. These soft colors and delicate forms simulate the specific Indonesian floral emblems that Bey researched for this artwork: Anggrek Bulan, the ‘flower of charm’ commonly known as Moon Orchid, and Melati Putih (Jasminum sambac), the national flower. “I want viewers to see that this piece is inspired by adornment and that adornment is one of the ways that we sustain identity in the face of globaliza - tion,” states Bey.
Bey made each of the beads of this neck - lace using a slip-cast technique, a process that involves pouring liquid clay into a plas - ter mold. Once fired, he hand-polished the vitreous china with a combination of waxes and varnishes to recall the leathery patina of terra sigillata, the name given to the distinct surface treatment of ancient Roman pottery. The beads rest against the wall, and the work hangs from two open clasps, which are intentionally spaced apart as an invitation to be worn.
As an artist, Bey’s practice embraces both his passion for craft traditions and conceptual ceramics. He makes functional pottery, in - cluding vessels, bowls, and other pots, while sculptural pieces illustrate his longstanding interest in material cultures, particularly those from Africa and Oceania. The idea for this series of necklaces originated from a col - lection of images of African women wearing hefty jewelry. Bey’s wearable pieces—large, chunky ceramic necklaces between eighteen and thirty inches wide—embody the physical and emotional weight of cultural traditions passed down through generations.
Bey is an associate professor of art at Syracuse University in New York. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, a Master of Fine Arts degree in studio art from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a doctorate degree in art education from Pennsylvania State University, State College. Bey received the 2017 New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in the Crafts/Sculpture category and was awarded the Pollock-Kras - ner Grant in 2018. He has been a resident artist at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, Slovakia; McColl Center for Vi - sual Art, North Carolina; Hunter College, New York; the John Michael Kohler Art Center, Wisconsin; and the Pittsburgh Glass Center in Pennsylvania. His work is in several public and private collections throughout the United States.