Chris Mayse likes what he likes.
That doesn’t necessarily mean Mayse likes the industrious effort it takes to complete the desired finished product or that the pieces he enjoys making the most remain his favorites in the end.
“I constantly feel like I’m pulled in two different directions when it comes to the work that I like to make and the work that I like to see,” says Mayse, who pairs those pieces with their counterparts in his one-day Kiln Pad Pop-up exhibition, 1-4 Sunday. Tea bowls, planters and bud vases will be for sale at the event held rain or shine in Pewabic’s courtyard.
“Stylistically, I’ve always been drawn to cleaner, more refined design objects,” says Mayse. “But then when it comes to craft ceramics — like terra cotta — I’m drawn to letting the clay be the clay.”
In this exhibition, crude, coarse sediment-heavy terra cotta and the pure, tight clay of porcelain are in direct opposition, says Mayse. For the terra cotta pieces, he wheel threw each piece fully closed — the cups started as spheres, the bud vases cones, the planters ovoids — then scrapped the tops before applying the texture in what he describes as a rough and quick process, creating an earthy naturalistic appeal.
In contrast, Mayse’s porcelain pieces are labor intensive and time consuming near the finish because each require careful sanding and attention between four kiln firings.
“Making those, like the geometric bud vases, is painstaking for me, but I love seeing the result in the end piece,” says Mayse, who won second place for his geometric bud vase in the Maker/Mentor exhibition, currently on display in Pewabic’s upstairs gallery. An awards reception for the show is 6-8 p.m. July 21.
Mayse’s exploration of geometric porcelain sculpture began during his time at Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he earned his MFA in Ceramics in 2013.
“My education plays a big part in this. Before Cranbrook I can’t say my aesthetic was minimal,” says Mayse. “It has such a rich history of design. I think it’s unavoidable to leave there without a deep appreciation of it. There’s some kind of osmosis that happens being that close to all that art.”
The functional ceramics that surround him at Pewabic similarly influenced Mayse to move from sculpture to sculptural objects, he says, with the goal of making sculpture with an inherent practicality to it for everyday use.
“Approaching it as a sculptor became defining for me in terms of deciding what work I wanted to show. I thought it was important to approach this show conceptually. Because of that, for every porcelain object there is a mirroring terra-cotta object. I’m really interested in seeing what goes first….”