As part of her fast approaching graduation as a member of the inaugural cohort of Sierra Nevada College’s Low-Residency MFA-Interdisciplinary Arts program, Gray Space Gallery presented Susan’s MFA Thesis show, Embodied Alchemy: Rotating Creation. The show took place February 3 to March 19, 2017.

Susan Bass - Gray Space Gallery - Embodied Alchemy: Rotating Creation – Abstract Sculptures and Mixed Media Paintings

Digging into the mysterious and ambiguous form of porcelain, Susan draws out fragments, attempting to resurrect order and completeness from the duality of modern life that she sees in the in the shards and shapes of reworked ceramic. Her work draws out symbols, ideas of antiquity and modernity from the raw material of clay and seeks to assemble meaning from the disassembled pieces. Her flirtations with chemistry, alchemy and the transformations brought about by the application of fire result in structured forms reaching for new meaning.

Embodied Alchemy: Rotating Creation – Abstract Sculptures and Mixed Media Paintings

Embodied Alchemy: Rotating Creation – Susan Bass

Framing her forms are large-scale paintings that translate the whirling space of the ceramic process into color — an action specific to the medium of clay. The result is an exciting play of multiple mediums and materials in communication, contradiction, and support of each other.

Susan Bass - Gray Space Gallery - Embodied Alchemy: Rotating Creation – Abstract Sculptures and Mixed Media Paintings

Pottery Coast Studio

Susan Bass is a ceramic sculptor and mixed-media artist who works with porcelain, metals, and fire. She is also the owner of Pottery Coast, a community-based ceramics studio with a mission to cultivate a space for those who make. She lives and works on the Central Coast of California.

Susan’s work will be included in the first edition of the SNC MFA-IA Graduating Class Catalog, available later this year. Reserve your copy by contacting Julia Schwadron.


Embodied Alchemy: Rotating Creation
Gray Space Gallery, 219 Gray Avenue,Santa Barbara,California-93101
The nature of ceramics, as material and process, informs my artistic practice. The interplay between opposite qualities, such as fragility versus strength, solid versus impermanent, or fragmented versus complete, define the underlying qualities of my work. Because of porcelain’s enigmatic physical attributes, it is difficult to execute to completion. I appreciate the challenge put forward by the duality of the material. The interplay between stability and instability inherently forces a balancing act between juxtapositions, made manifest and permanent through fire. From fragmented beginnings, I work to restore an ordered completeness bringing other materials and methods into my work, such as metals and paint. Simultaneously, by emphasizing the gaps in the ceramic form, I am questioning the formal idea of what can be seen as finished. In my work outside of these discrete ceramic pieces, I repurpose discarded and broken fragments by using them as starting points for sculptures and mixed media paintings. Through this practice, I am pointing to the endless potential of transformation in the material itself. My most recent sculptures represent my struggle to unify ceramics and metallurgy. While I have developed glazing to resemble gold and burnished bronze on my ceramic work, I have a greater interest in exploiting the properties that allow both materials to solidify from liquid state by fire. In my paintings I seek to work ceramic remnants, hardened by firing, with the wet medium of paint. The results are large scale paintings of unusual depth with color commonly unattainable in ceramics. The weight of the clay looming over the seeming weightlessness of the painted surface portends the potential for sudden change into a fixed medium. Adding stray graffiti overlays a transitional theme across the permanence of the ceramic elements, further developing the dichotomy converging from my work.​