Design Daily: Geology–Inspired Ceramics by Kris Marubayashi


At this weekend’s American Craft Council show at Fort Mason, I discovered the work of artist Kris Marubayashi, an Sacramento-based ceramicist who creates highly textured, detailed sculptures in inky black clay. Drawing inspiration from geological formations, the Caldera collection so resembles the volcanic cauldrons after which it was named that I found myself peering into the depths beyond the rim of each sculpture. 

Marubayashi, a self-described sansei (or third-generation Japanese American), returned to working with clay in 2005, after a 30-year hiatus. She built a studio in her backyard and committed to becoming a full-time ceramicist in 2011. I’m thinking she made a good choice, as her pieces stunned me with their level of detail. To create each Caldera, Marubayashi joins two clay slabs into a 3D hollow disc, and when the clay is sufficiently hard, she begins to score, carve and break off small portions of the surface of the top slab—ultimately creating the stratified and textural finished pieces. 

The Caldera pieces are approximately 11 inches in diameter, with wonderful depth and a matte black surface that seems to absorb all available light. New for this year, the artist experimented with Tile, a segmented, 2D version of her striated slabwork, below. There are five versions of Tile up on her website, in variations ranging from three to six tiles. 

In California, you can find Kris Marubayashi’s work at The Ren Brown Collection Gallery in Bodega Bay and Mowen Solinsky Gallery in Nevada City. 


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