Jessica Hans

On your web page I can find photos of ceramic sculptures, photographed at different places. Were the sculptures made for the exact places where you photographed them?

The sculptures aren’t made specifically for the places in which they’re photographed. They do loosely reference those locations, though. The places where I shot the photographs are places that I visit frequently and think about often, so I often find myself placing motifs from those locations in my sculptures.

Is photographing the sculpture an inherent part of your artistic process or do you use it more for documentation purposes?

I think photographing the works is definitely a big part of the process. I have been making photographs for many years now; photography has been the driving force behind my creative process. I think in the beginning the sculptures were secondary. I would almost say that the sculptures were made to serve as still life objects for the photographs that I made. The work has transcended beyond that now and the pieces are meant to exist in the world on their own.

Are some of your sculptures permanently fixed to a certain place? Or do you create them more as mobile objects that live in different places?

I don’t think anything I’ve ever made is steady and fixed. I’m not a steady or fixed type of person so my work doesn’t tend to be. I typically like to keep the work as dynamic as possible; in the studio, at home, while it’s being photographed, etc. It’s a tangible sketching process that is perpetual.

What role does the vascular nature of many of your sculptures play?

Ceramic is such an important medium in terms of utility. It has existed in the everyday lives of humans for thousands of years as a functional device. In my own work, I try to maintain the idea of functionality while making forms that are unique or non-traditional. The vessel forms are there as such; they are peculiar vessels that are more sculptural in form, but almost always they should serve a purpose. The relationship we have with vessels is an intimate one and this is also something that I’m interested in.

How important is nature in your work?

Nature is pretty important in almost all aspects of my work, from the conceptual to the end product. I mean, I think of nature as The Source or the place from which all things come and all things go, so I try to stay pretty in line with it during my making process. I’m especially interested in ceramic materials because of their natural and geologic quality. I enjoy the idea that my materials are sourced directly from the earth and forged through heat and flame. I try to carry that sentiment through to the finished piece by way of texture and surface design.

Are some of your sculptures made for plants?

Yes, many of them are made for plants. Keeping with the whole “natural process” that I mentioned above, many of my pieces act as homes for different plant species.

Can you tell us something about the colours of your ceramics? How do you choose them? Are they inspired by your surroundings? The Ocean for example?

To be honest, there’s only a loose amount of planning that goes into the glazing of the pieces. I have a general idea in mind about the appearance of the piece but the rest is intuitive or part of the flow. But you’re right to mention the Ocean, I’ve been looking to it as a source of inspiration for a long time. I grew up in a couple of different shore towns and spent a lot of time boating and fishing as a kid. I’ve always really enjoyed the weird, bizarre-o sea life we’d find while fishing or while looking through books. I especially like the vibrant sea cucumbers and nudibranch or the vast species of corals and sponges. I remember visiting the Greek-run sponge docks in Tarpon Springs, Florida when I was younger and falling in love with all of the variations of sponge art I found in the gift shops. I guess these are all things that I reference in my ceramic works.

In your biography I read about your time at Moore College of Art and Design with the focus on textile design. Do you plan to work more with textiles in the future?

I go back and forth between ceramics, textiles, and photography. I’ve taken a bit of a break from textiles for the time being, but it still an important practice for me. Working with textiles was actually a gateway for me into the world of craft and ceramics. I’ve spent a lot of time weaving in the past with a focus on natural dye materials and foraging for plants to dye with, so moving into ceramics and raw materials was an easy transition for me.

Do you have a favourite plant?

I like all plants but a few in particular are the Puya Raimondii and the Titan Arum.