Ryan Labar


1st Place recipient

Working with clay, I fabricate individual and wheel thrown elements. These, together with other clay parts, are carefully stacked on top of each other to compose a layered and woven structure. Each element counterbalances the position of another. These precarious constructs are placed in a kiln, and the heat of the kiln melts and moves the clay and glaze. The clay parts deform as the material softens. Tensions are released, causing the system to undergo a domino effect best described as a cascading failure where the failure of one part triggers the failure of successive parts. As the firing progresses, the movement quiets and the system of parts reach equilibrium and become a singular and rested whole.

The final composition reflects the motion and revealed tension of the integrated clay parts. The deformed elements of the system appear suspended in space or compressed by the weight of another. Cool blue celadon bands twist around soft white porcelain rings as brown stoneware rods, once rigid, bend and weave their way throughout.

The piece is a dynamic whole of singular elements. The combined movement of the neighboring parts has affected each singular part. The structural rods, bands, rings, and cogs change from being a physical structure of support to a visual illusion of structure. The parts have mixed to become one. A transformation has occurred. Each component’s rigid and singular identity has changed, warped, and bent to accommodate the integration of the neighboring elements.

These systems are studies in causality. I view the system before and after the firing and develop a set of deterministic means that affected the final system. Each piece’s effects inform the next piece's cause.

The integrated forms are complex mixtures, busy and balanced at times. Others seem piled and chaotic. These systems are metaphors for our times, our bodies, and our philosophies. Time ages all things. It softens hard edges and moves material to alternative states of rest. Not only does time test form, it tests ideas. Some become foundations for future breakthroughs as others fall into oblivion. My process is the concept. My ideas are subject to the same cascading failure as are my forms.

  • The Subconscious Shelf

    The Subconscious Shelf 25x28x22" 2011

    Porcelain and stoneware

  • The Moment

    The Moment 21x19x13" 2014

    Porcelain and stoneware

  • Really Unusuay Uncertain

    Really Unusuay Uncertain 2010

    Porcelain and stoneware

  • The World is Yours, the Word is Mine

    The World is Yours, the Word is Mine 20x27x15" 2014


  • Evolution and the American Myth of the Individual

    Evolution and the American Myth of the Individual 23x28x19" 2014


  • The Path Taken

    The Path Taken 24x27x17" 2014


  • Finding Beauty in the Sludge

    Finding Beauty in the Sludge 24x28x11" 2014


  • Don't Give Till It Hurst

    Don't Give Till It Hurst 23x24x19" 2014


  • Freeze

    Freeze 24x27x13" 2014


  • Unsafe At Any Dose

    Unsafe At Any Dose 24x27x18" 2011