FLOWERS

The flower series started to take form after a visit to the Natural History Museum in London: Yassi noticed the skeleton of a dinosaur, especially its tail, and was fascinated by the articulation of the vertebrae. Each piece fits into the next in the most extraordinarily simple way. Somewhere along the line, between her longstanding interest in the structure of snowflakes and the dinosaur tail, something clicked and made sense. She started creating floral vertebrae and spinal columns that have both an engineered geometry and a sense of Mother Nature in them.

 

All of her sculpted ceramics - including the flowers and ceremonial vessels - are hand made, thrown on a potter’s wheel. The process is a subtractive one (rather than additive), she cuts and carves the pulled flanges by hand, making each one unique.

 

By virtue of the complexity of these carved forms, a number of them do not survive either, first, the carving process or, second, the multiple kiln firing process. Occasionally, the artist rescues one or more portions as abstracts sculptures, several of which she has dubbed "Flower-Birds."

 

While she has experimented over the years with glazes fired over various clays including over porcelain, Yassi has tended to leave most of her works unglazed, leaving every detail of the raw material, whether usually white or brown, including any grit and grog, visible to the naked eye, as close to its natural state as possible.

 

On rare occasion, however, the artist has worked in colored porcelain, achieved by mixing a stain into the body of the raw porcelain. While this does alter the natural white color of the porcelain, it still leaves her able to work the material and fire it without the additional step of a glaze, still leaving the finished work as close to her hands as possible.

 

The first significant body of work created in a body-tinted porcelain was a large series of flower-form vessels entitled Mrs. Birch's Flowerbed done in 2008 in honor of her late, adoptive godmother, Patti Cadby Birch. That series was tinted to a color close to one of Mrs. Birch's favorites, Pepto-Bismol pink.

 

In late 2015, the artist started experimenting once again with Flowers made of body-tinted English porcelain and included in the present exhibition is one of those: Indigo, 2016, a cobalt blue English porcelain Flower. Technically, these are extremely difficult sculptures as the cobalt blue powder drastically affects the elasticity of the porcelain.