Master Ceramists

Master Ceramists
Susan Collett, Steven Heinemann and Jean-Pierre Larocque
October 13 – November 12, 2016

Jean-Pierre Larocque has exhibited widely throughout the United States and Canada with excursions to Europe and Asia. Before returning to his native Montréal he taught art and ceramics at various US Universities. His work is in many prominent collections and Museums, here and in the US. Houses, horses, human heads – Larocque’s sculpture deals with the essence of the        human experience. Contemporary sculptural sensibility is infused with knowledge of the past. Ceramics has been the first medium in which human intelligence has manifested itself throughout the world, and Laroque is very much wedded to its teachings. It is therefor fitting that a large exhibition of his works should have accompanied the reopening of the restored Gardiner Museum of Ceramics in Toronto with its world-class universal and historical collection.

Another giant of contemporary ceramic art – Heinemann - is constantly in search of the very essence of his medium -  clay. He first examined inner and outer forms in the vessel, then studied the empty imprints of fossils in massive rock. It inspired his series of negative and positive geometric spaces. From here he moved to an investigation of simple organic forms, like pods and seeds.-  Flattening them, magnifying them, attaching them to the wall, these organic shapes now have become abstractions of their original intent. – At the same time Heinemann continues his exploration of surface, from baby skin softness to scorched earth roughness , and here and there a pattern, like imprints of the human spirit. Through his extensive teaching and lectures throughout Canada, USA, Europe and Asia, he participated in shaping an awareness of ceramics as a distinct practice, but related to a broader discourse in the visual arts. His work is in private and public collections worldwide and has garnered him numerous distinctions not just in North America, but in Europe and Asia as well.

The youngest of the three artists, but already a master ceramist in her own right, Susan Collett‘s work is like a breath of fresh air, audacious and imbued with spirituality. Heaving, disrupted, uprooted forms hover in space, between the solid and the fluid, between order and chaos. Collett pushes the limits of the possible in exploring the tension of strength against fragility. Hand built out of stacked paper clay platelets, tilted and refired many times she builds up the strength needed for these images of movement, fragile and solid at the same time. Collett has exhibited extensively worldwide and her work is in numerous private and public national and international collections.

When you consider the work of these world-class artists, you may come to understand why ceramics is a distinct art form. No other medium, be it bronze, stone or paper, can be used to express so powerfully and at the same time delicately, aspects of the human condition:  Made of earth, hardened through fire, fragile and strong at the same time, it bears witness to our history since time immemorial.