Historical collides with hysterical to pay both homage and put forth a subversive take on future ceramic trajectories in Mariko Paterson’s work. Paterson very much enjoys scouring the annals of history for clay greats from centuries past looking for “victims” to pull into her “lab” for a little tinkering and reworking. She particularly loves the forms offered up by the English, the French and the Japanese to explore and disseminate, but she saves her greatest efforts for the pomp-and-and-circumstance of all ceramic granddaddies, namely, the Chinese. With so many styles and shapes to choose from and so little lifetime to tackle them all, Paterson has honed on Dynasties Quing and Ming as well as the familias of Famille Noirs, Jaunes and Verts that can bear her brutish touch. The one common denominator she does like to maintain is that the forms be somewhat recognizable and accessible to those not necessarily in the ceramic know. The theory derives from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s quote, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Paterson’s aim is to lure viewers of all ceramic sophistications into her lair of subversion by first baiting their gaze with ubiquitous forms, recognizable styles and easily identifiable graphics before bombarding both the historical inspirations as well as the viewers with a smorgasbord of stimulation. Once again, the formula is intended to bring together historical + hysterical, but Paterson often admits to adding a touch of maniacal to the mix.
Originally from Vancouver, Mariko Paterson studied ceramics first at Langara College, then the Alberta College of Art & Design and received her MFA from Kent State University. She spent years running the hamster wheel of teaching gigs and tech positions at places like Greenwich House Pottery, Ohio University, The University of Michigan, The University of Manitoba, The Alberta College of Art once gain and The Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Residencies galore helped her develop the sculptural wings on her work and she is grateful for time spent at the Banff Centre, Red Lodge in Montana and in Denmark at Guldagergaard’s International Ceramic Center to name a few. For now, Mariko has situated Forage Studios, a private ceramics studio and color decal making empire, in the seaside city of Halifax, Nova Scotia on Canada’s East Coast.