Keraunos/ Karen Swami, 2018/ Courtesy of Karen Swami
Karen Swami presents When Earth Fractures
Karen Swami is a French ceramic artist whose studio is in the Montparnasse district of Paris. She finds inspiration in close observation of life around her, in the Earth itself and its very surface, in places far away and beneath our feet, often parched, crackling, fragmenting. Fractured, wounded ground is the essential reference of her ceramics. She acquiesces to these injured surfaces and revives them, restoring life, curing the incurable— redemption through flowing, transcendent washes of pure gold.
A recent trip to Iceland contributed to her vision. Fissures and cracks often cover the landscape. Forces far below the surface have broken the ground apart over thousands of years. The cracks mark the gradual separation of continental plates, a dramatic example of evolving landscape and a poetic illustration of the Earth’s constant renewal and transformation.
Swami gives life to the clay, exploring its subtleties. Chamotte stoneware endures the shock of temperatures. Pieces are gently polished with an agate burnisher and then smoke fired. If they crack during firing, she knows how to install new life in them, enacting again a sort of redemption. Where some might consider cracking a sign of defeat, she sees the opposite. The fragments are brought back to life with gold powder.
These ceramics are both personal memoir and a meditation on the Earth’s ever-evolving template. They are a contemporary art form that mirrors eternal permutations and mindful reflections on the preservation of the Earth and the power of renewal and healing.