CLAY is a uniquely sensitive material, picking up every nuance of a potter’s state of mind throughout each moment of the process. The materials that are chosen, the way the tools are held, and the firing of the kiln imbue a sort of non-verbal communication, in ways like an instrumental piece of music but with the added dimension of being both tactile and haptic. Ceramics almost demand to be touched and one’s relationship with a piece comes through interaction rather than observation alone.
Similarly, like a musician’s solo, the potter relies on the embellishment of routine and established forms to convey their distinctive voice and vision.
Having been integral to the reintroduction and preservation of ceramic arts in the Philippines, Jon Pettyjohn’s past exhibitions found him exploring these concepts and more, branching out beyond the typical applications of his craft into more experimental works. In his 2011 show, Flux, he explored the notion that change is constant. Through meticulously arranged works depicting the transition from wholeness to fragmentation alongside more abstract forms that resisted any utilitarian interpretation, he highlighted a process defined by transformation and subverted the expectations around the practical aspect of clay works. Subsequently, 2018’s Stoneware Terrain mined the relationship between his environment—namely Mount Makiling where his home and studio are located—and his creative output, a testament to the natural materials that he sources and how those earliest steps inform the rest of his practice.
Now, Pettyjohn’s third solo exhibition at Silverlens, Steps, advances the artist’s pursuit of personal expression within the framework of traditions and techniques to which he has dedicated himself for close to 50 years. “It is a challenge and an honor for a potter like myself to be offered a space in a prime contemporary exhibition space like Silverlens,” says Pettyjohn. “I have attempted to use my pottery skills to go a little further and say something more.”
Steps, the third solo exhibition by Jon Pettyjohn, is on view until July 8 at Silverlens, Manila.