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Sterling Ruby and Masaomi Yasunaga at Nonaka-Hill


At Nonaka-Hill, the two halves of the gallery each contain elaborate, textural, and unique ceramic works that couldn’t be more different. On the left, Japanese artist Masaomi Yasunaga’s ceramic forms look like objects salvaged from a deep-sea journey; the vessels are installed on a densely-packed pedestal, encouraging an exploratory approach from the viewer. In a process that upends traditional vessel making, Yasunaga’s forms are in fact made with glaze as their primary material. Each glaze form is buried in sand or other materials before they are fired in the kiln; he adds only enough bits of clay to the exterior of each object to bond to the glaze, stabilizing each delicate form as it fires. As such, the works carry an embodied history of their making, much like found sea glass that’s become encrusted in barnacles.

The right side of the gallery houses several series of clay sculptures by LA-based artist Sterling Ruby, whose thick glazes counteract Yasunaga’s earthiness with their shimmering luminescent gold and bronze hues. One work, “Basin Theology / TROPHIC CASCADE,” which loosely resembles a boat with a cannon jutting out the front bow, is in fact a depository of sorts for the artist. The work houses scraps and broken ceramic pieces from past projects that all become drenched in a thick layer of gloopy glaze. For both artists, the glaze itself, sometimes an afterthought in the ceramic process, becomes an essential element of form-making.