Fire & Earth, The Art of Exploration with Ceramicist Jonathan Cross


The lineage of ceramics can be found throughout the history of human civilization, and the work of Jonathan Cross is quickly making a place in that archive. An artist and graphic print maker, Cross’ quest to produce three-dimensional forms began while creating simple pinch pots that emulated the rocks and crevices his favorite desert flora often cling to. This led him on a journey to unravel the transformation of clay to ceramic.


Coming to a discipline without formal training can inspire an artist to develop his or her own innovative approach; this is particularly true for Cross. In search of creating something sacred from the earth, much of Cross’s work seems as if it were excavated from an archeological site from the future. Each piece is an exploration of form and surface, with the angular tessellations of clay burnt and scarred from a wood-fired kiln. The geometric facets are formed when Cross slices the clay with a machete, inverting the normal mode of ceramic production into a reductive and sculptural process. The only glaze Cross uses on each vessel is developed after 72 hours of stoking and fueling the pyre full of cottonwood and pine wood ash. 


Over the last year Cross collaborated with gallerist and curator David Alhadeff of The Future Perfect, whose history of bringing to light and nurturing leading figures in design and art augurs well for Cross and his admirers. His work is displayed in context at Alhedeff’s L.A. residential gallery, Casa Perfect. Now Cross is venturing deeper into his formula with plans to build a larger kiln that will allow him to produce pieces whose scale will take on a more monumental rather than momentary homage to the primitive and sacred. — Philip Wood 

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