Judith Ernst

Artist's Statement


My work as a ceramist has focused on the interplay of traditional forms and sculptural expression. I use the vessel form conceptually, because vessels have an inside, an inner dimension. An enclosed form is extroverted; it displaces space and interacts with its environment. Imagine the same enclosed form but with a small entrance to an interior. The form becomes introverted, self-contained; it has an existential presence connected to its mysterious inner space.

In the ancient world, vessels were used functionally, but also metaphorically in ritual and literature, employing some of the same ideas of interiority. Looking back to these antecedents, I treat the metaphor of the inner as a resonant subject matter for non-functional ceramic art pieces. Implied are the dichotomies between the inner and outer, the hidden and the seen, the created world and the ineffable mystery. Cutting through the wall and changing the angles of the various connecting planes in my complex tessellated patterns, I create deep relief, a dynamic movement that leads the eye to the inside of the vessel, opening a dialogue between the vessels outer planes and inner spaces.

In the past few years I’ve created a number of stacked pieces (“Flight of the Hamsa" and “Flying to the Inside (Water)” are examples). An ongoing project is to use this visual language to explore human consciousness via the portrait in my “Refracted Journeys: Portraits” series. This series expands my concept of the “inside” of the vessel to the head and our notion of consciousness, implying the refracted nature of the psyche and its ineffable journey.