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i'm happy to be a part of the Art Notes artist profile section! see it here...
but here's also a copied/pasted version. a big thanks to blair!!!
In addition to practicality, toilet paper and paper towels bear the motifs we want in our everyday lives. Meredith Host has been collecting these patterns of domesticity for over ten years. Fresh off the roll, they're attractive enough for consumer placement in kitchens and bathrooms. Although these items perform unseemly tasks, Host simply improves on their ephemeral ideal by reintroducing them into something more permanent.
Host derives a certain humor from the reaction of the user when they find out they're using a plate adorned in toilet paper designs. Her forms are deliberately minimal while the approach to surface decoration is "more is more." The surface patterns she uses have a familiarity because of their occurrence in the paper products we use daily, but Host says, most admirers can't quite place where they come from. But she finds a certain satisfaction when her work is used in the home, fulfilling a "functional destiny."
Raised in an art-friendly family in Detroit, it seemed inevitable that Meredith would figure out one discipline or another. During middle school, she started working with clay and "ceramics became the thing I couldn't live without." Hence, the usual succession of events...
A BFA in Ceramics at the Kansas City Art Institute, Host attended a stream of residencies that included School for American Crafts at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY. Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts in Newcastle, ME, and Belden Brick Factory residency in Sugarcreek, OH, eventually earning an MFA in Ceramics at Ohio State University.
Okay, enough education, it was time to put all this practice into process and Host moved back to Kansas City to start up a studio. The decision was easy for Host – KC is an affordable place to live and has a supportive art community. She works full-time in a studio shared with ceramic sculptor and installation artist Rain Harris.
Host has two lines – Meredith Host - thrown porcelain functional artwork that goes to galleries and exhibitions. foldedpigs is her commercial line of repurposed restaurant ware which is sold online, independent crafts shows and wholesaled to shops and boutiques around the country.
Employing creative trickery in her pieces, Host enjoys unsuspecting customers using her work and making unnerving discoveries in their design. The idea of food preparation and its eventual expulsion incorporated into their vessels imparts a somewhat topsy-turvy psych-out.
Perhaps the most surprising/engaging/gross element is her foldedpigs cockroach design – at once both disgusting and intriguing. It's the idea of taking something that is otherwise disgusting and cause for panicked extermination, then deciding to put it directly on the dining room table.
Vous êtes ce que vous mangez?
Her last series of work, Residue, are white on white dinnerware imbued with subtle contaminants on the surface that are intended to tease or torment the user. In the darker humor realm, Host creates a psychological response that lingers with the user. The most effective of the Residue ware seems to be the single stray hair, but Hosts personal favorite contaminants were the mouse droppings.
In addition to the concept of squalor, fabric design is another inspirational source. The vintage and contemporary designs of Marimekko to more recent designers like Orla Kiely, Amy Butler, and Joel Dewberry. A big fan of the culture-vulture Japanese fashion magazine, Fruits, Host looks for the mish-mash of color and pattern of teenagers vamping in the Harajuku shopping district. Like examining a wall chock full of Wayne Thiebaud paintings, she likes the bright, saturated gumball colors that appeals to her sweet tooth.
Decorating is really a balancing act; she plays around with asymmetry in color and pattern on symmetrical forms to create dynamic surfaces. The depth of her surfaces comes from using stenciling, thermofax screen-printing, and iron oxide decal processes.
From a practical standpoint, her work is fairly sellable; but is also getting into exhibitions and galleries as collectable pieces. Host recently received an emerging artist award through NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) and also Ceramics Monthly Magazine.
Thinking about how much time she actually spends making her work, Host realizes her hourly work rate is pathetic. She's "hit the ceiling on how much I can currently charge for each piece. Unfortunately, the functional ceramic market has an established price range for particular items, and I'm pretty sure that this is something I cannot change."
Create and ship, create and ship, like the label says, repeat as necessary, but Host hopes to expand her presence in ceramic galleries around the country. With foldedpigs, she will be selling at Bon Bon Atelier's Ric Rac Roundup in Westport (Kansas City) this summer and Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago this September and December.
Looking ahead, she has begun a search to find a building/commercial space to start a studio with friends and fellow ceramic artists, Rain Harris and Paul Donnelly.
Looking for the beauty in something otherwise unattractive or disgusting, Host sparks an interest in making friends and living with the elements we prefer to turn our backs on.
Written by Blair Schulman, 2011