Uncompromising Tang, March 1, 2014
Ryder Richards (aside as intro): I met Ian F. Thomas while he was in graduate school and I was running an alternative art space. He was continually collaborating and pushing boundaries while I was hosting events and creating new venues for display. Finding we had a similarly ambitious drive fueled by a bizarrely protestant and alcohol-fueled work ethic we started the Culture Laboratory Collective. We have worked together on international exhibits, collaborative shows and art works, and have plotted and schemed around the ever-elusive vanishing point of success.
Trained as a ceramicist with exquisite craft, Ian is capable of producing beautiful objects, yet is also constantly exploring conceptual issues related to craft, technology, process, and performance. While in Dallas a few years ago, Ian (and collaborator John Shumway) created Incidental Transformation, a “digital projection on ceramic” installation that confounded traditional exhibition strategies while providing a series of improbable “view points” from which to engage static ceramics and ever-shifting contemporary technologies.
RR: Ian, your practice can, at times, seem schizophrenic. Do you see a gap between your more traditional ceramic vases and your conceptually grounded pieces–such as Yesterday’s Tomorrow where a performer rubbed Pennsylvania coal onto a ceramic mound? How does object creation align with works such as Please Excuse the Mess?
IFT: There are of course many differences between the two but I have always viewed my practice as a physical extension of personal ideologies. In one instance I may be thinking of some social/political issue and in the next I might be fantasizing, but no matter how fractured the individual works may appear, they are rooted in my observations and interpretations of myself and the world around me. I try not to separate or influence my works based on some stylistic constraint. I look at the work in-and-of-itself, each piece being a separate thing that needs to function on its own, in a context, without concern for style or brand.