Jeff Reich

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My work integrates abstract expressionist influences with contemporary desert landscapes. The uniqueness of the Sonoran desert inspires my work in ceramics. Angled, sectioned and recombined forms of teapots, jars, wall tiles, and sculptural vessels are influenced by the growth patterns found in desert plants, rocks and mountains.

  I am amazed at the incredible determination and perseverance of plants to survive here in our heat, dryness, and periodic freezes.  Nature, through insistence, finds a way to live on.  Even though our “progress” blades down pristine desert some southwest plants recover, even emerging through cracks in sidewalks.  Their tenacity is unrivaled.  The duality of the manmade and natural world is combined in my work.

My compositions often consist of two-dimensional glaze windows or fields superimposed on the three-dimensional surface of the clay.  Windows of glaze drawings bring glimpses of repetitive plant forms.   Thorny, sometimes leafless plants, monocarpic (which means once blooming) agaves, and yuccas all adorn the surface by means of glaze sgraffitto. Textural glazes invoke thoughts of  clay cracking on dry river beds.  Black reminds me of  night when the desert is cooler. 

The clay forms I create are inspired by natural rock formations, boulders fallen upon each other or a tree’s erratic  growth during drought.  Geometric forms allude to the  manmade.  Leaning forms conjure images of the tentative balance of life.  The forces of nature counteract our best intentions. 

I am intrigued with desertscapes and their relationship to humans.  When I moved  to the desert I focused on the large and thorny.  Then, after years of hiking, I noticed  the tiny and subtle plants around me.  I have long been fascinated by agave blooms that tower over me.  I believe that the natural elements around me are the biggest influence in my work.  I grew up in Michigan surrounded by water.  Later, when I moved to Arizona, I was surrounded by mountains.  My choice of colors, glazes and  form convey  my interpretation of nature's regrowth, reconciliation and transplantation.

Artist Statement