Deneece Harrell

Deneece Harrell

About The Artist

Deneece Harrell • Highlands, NC

Vessels exposing the tension of restoration, and beauty. Wrestling ideas of identity, value and purpose expressed in sculptural porcelain, inviting the viewer to reflect on experiences of loss, pain, disappointment, joy, and fulfillment. This analogical dialogue of torn, manipulated, clay, synthesizes emotion ideas, process, and materials held in juxtaposition. Expressing the tension of fragility and strength, incorporating movement, layering time, and history. The unglazed marred, translucent porcelain surface, at times documents the evidence of exposure to soda, and wood fires; at other times, the soft, white luster of surface, both speaking of beauty which draws one into self-reflection. The manipulated classical forms created from torn misshaped pieces speaking our individual yet shared humanity of experiences. We are reminded of value, of broken and restored places, held by staples and kintsugi. Exposed, afraid of not being loved if we are seen, learning we are seen and loved.


Artist website

Q&A with the Artist

Tell us how your work is made.

The work is made from segments of hand built, hand thrown porcelain clay slabs, torn, stretched, smoothed, marred, holes gouged, smoothed. Organic shapes layered together to create manipulated vessel forms. Joined in solid and open connections, ripped, pressed, exposed edges, connections of vulnerability, security, danger, unexpected, predictable, excitement, joy, focusing on relationships to each other. Places for staples are drilled in the leather hard clay, fissure and cracks encouraged. The work is fired in either an electric Kiln to cone 6 or a wood fired Soda kiln to cone 10. The Soda kiln emphasizes the surface texture and imparts subtle color and visual texture in the evidence of smoke and ash. Gold leaf is applied to the interior and outward opening surfaces using either a composition or 23.75 Karat leaf selected for color. Hand-hammered brass staples are created using a surface of a stone for texture, and a proprietary kintsugi composition applied.

What makes you passionate about the medium you work with?

Wrestling with ideas of identity, worth and purpose exposes deeper questions of who we are, who we are becoming, and why drives my work. My quest to find a medium, process and techniques for the synthesis of exploration of ideas lead to clay. Specifically, porcelain’s properties of strength, and ability to capture and throw light in the surface and the ability to work in very thin layers of fluid movement. Porcelain’s inherent self-glazing, white, translucent, sensitive skin-like property provides an infinite multiple layers of vocabulary. I am reminded of the process not only of creating but of being created, contemplated, intuitive, responsive, movement at vitrification is the contribution of the kiln and at times the use of soda, wood, smoke, ash to alter the surface. Gold leaf adheres allowing the subtle surface texture and joints to be exposed and emphasized. Kintsugi vocabulary and hand hammered brass staples traditional value-based vocabulary applied in a contemporary way.

What is something unique about you or your practice?

The unexpected and unique is an essential part of the voice of my work. Juxtaposing surface, form and movement, beauty is created from torn and fragmented pieces. The work appears fragile and on the verge of collapse- the sense of danger and being on the edge balance brings an unexpected tension. Fissure and non-structural cracks and openings are encouraged, holes are drilled to place hand hammered brass staples in place of open connections, and Kintsugi vocabulary is included in the finishing process; challenging ideas of value and broken. Gold leaf is applied in torn and fragmented pieces to the interior and outpouring features of the vessel, ongoing revelation of worth, beauty in challenging ideas of value - drawing us to each other in connections, curiosity, and intrigue to what is held inside. Some of the work is subjected to a wood fired soda kiln evidences the heat, smoke and ash deposits on the forever altered surface is always a beautiful surprise.