s

Biography & Statement

Biography

 

Yolande was born in Vancouver, where she took her first pottery class at age three. She fell in love with the extreme process of wood-firing in her twenties. Yo has travelled with her work throughout Canada and to the US and Europe and has shown in solo and group exhibitions in Eastern Canada, Toronto, Vancouver, and France. In 2013, her work was represented by the Mindy Solomon Gallery (Miami, Florida) at SOFA Chicago (Sculptural Objects & Functional Art).  Her pieces are collected internationally, one of her sculptural works, “Firebox Buddha”, resides in the permanent collection at the Burlington Arts Centre, Ontario, and her pieces can be found at the Robert Yellin Yakimono Gallery in Kyoto, Japan. Yolande lives in rural New Brunswick, where she fires her 25-foot long anagama kiln with the help of her four kids.

 

Statement

 

My sculptures and vessels are thrown on the kick-wheel or formed from blocks of porcelain and stoneware.  The approach is spontaneous and immediate. I create with few preconceived notions as to who or what might emerge from the clay, and I am especially interested in the way the motions of making becomes muscle memory; embodied, gestural, energetic.  Invariably certain attitudes, stances, or personaes erupt from the material; a recognition arises, and then the piece is ready to be fired.

I make two distinct bodies of work: woodfire pieces, and electric-fired works.

I fire my woodfired work for 7-10 days in the Anagama kiln I built (with my husband, fellow ceramic artist Lee Horus Clark), at our home in Queenstown (population 75), rural New Brunswick, Canada.

The extreme process of wood-firing gives me access to a way of being, a perspective and a form of expression that is, to me, heartbreakingly honest, challenging and real.

The firing event is the framework of my life.  I fire 2-3 times a year.  Wood-firing parallels every aspect my existence as a person.  It is grit and mud and sweat and blood.  It is the intimacy of pain and physical labour.  It is the foundation of my family life and my livelihood. It is birth and creation, an education. It is the syncopated rhythm of the seasons and our firing cycles.  Wood-firing is a meditation, and the most challenging integration of the work of my hands, my imagination, my intellect, my discernment, my body, my spirit, my heart.  It is a collision.

The works emerge from the kiln, having undergone an alchemical firewalk. Wood turns to glass, white to colour, smooth to ancient coral.  That which was dissolvable is now indelible.

The finished figures and pieces are recognizable to me, but they are also outside of my full scope of comprehension.  They incorporate literal, material and ephemeral realities and ideas.  Each piece exists as an object unto itself, but also as evidence of a transitory event in time and place, reflected in the surface landscapes of colour and texture.  Every piece is a map of the path of flame.

This making continually scrambles my beliefs about reverence, spirituality, materialism, mindfulness and attachment.  It is my sincere offering.

My gilded electric line of vessels and ceramic paintings are a departure from my woodfired works both in terms of process, energy and mood.  My focus with these pieces is primarily on large-scale sculptural forms made in porcelain (and also stoneware).  The initial forms are created slowly and methodically, using a coil-and-throw method requiring a high degree of technical skill, a sensitivity to the fickle dedication to gravity of wet clay, and a sense of movement suspended-in-time.  After bisque-firing, I use these forms as a three-dimensional canvas, on which to express a joyful cornucopia of amorphous, emotive colour, texture and movement.  The act of painting colour onto bare clay has a physicality, an immediacy, an agency, and a improvisational quality that is informed and contrasted by the meditative processes of clay-forming.  After glazing and the final firing, I apply gold leaf to the pieces, again, in loose brush-strokes.  The finished works are layered landscapes of glassy pigment, with areas of roughness, and small sections of calm, invoking a sense of drama, intensity, spontaneity, exuberance, and euphoria.