Ceramic Artists: Top Trail-Glazers Breaking the Mould

Harriet Lloyd-Smith, Wallpaper, August 16, 2021

A way with clay: discover the contemporary ceramic artists firing up the canon into a new age


Ceramics and art have a companionship longer than most. In a story that began in the Palaeolithic period, this potent fusion of water, earth and creativity has evolved through many modes. 21st-century ceramic artists are proving that the medium has as much potential for concept as function, lured in by its versatility, sensuality and role as a platform for provocation. 

From artists upholding age-old techniques with a twist, to those unearthing radical ways to push materials to their limits, these are the trail-glazers, the mould-breakers and future-shapers on the cutting edge of ceramic art.


Brie Ruais

 Brooklyn-based Brie Ruais uses one primary tool to fashion her dynamic clay pieces: her own body. Each of her sculptures is made with the equivalent of her body weight in clay, resulting in pieces that uncannily mirror human scale. Each gouge, scrape and fold is evidence of raw physical engagement with her material, reminiscent of work by Ana Mendieta and Lynda Bengalis. Ruais’ often creates alone in the desolate desert terrain of Nevada's Great Basin, with no Wi-Fi or phone service. The intensity of solitude, and the charged intimacy with her material, as she rolls, pushes and pulls her body across it, results in works that blur sculpture and performance.