On Monday, April 17th, I attended the Alchemy Juice Gallery opening which featured the ceramic works of Alex Zablocki. Alex Zablocki is a writer/storyteller as well as a worker in ceramics. The name “Alchemy Juice” came about when Zablocki put several titles through an online word randomizer, and one eventually spat out a long sentence which contained the words “Alchemy Juice”. This appealed to him the most and so, Alchemy Juice was created.
The exhibit was featured at the Robert C. Turner Gallery on the Alfred University Campus. The sculptures featured seem to have suggested something out of the 1990’s. Alex Zablocki has never been one to name his works of art. His reason for this, quite simply, is because he “didn’t feel like it”. He believed, in essence, that his sculptures were more of a means to an end that they were the end in sight. His philosophy was that the process of making his sculptures were more important than the outcome. He sought out to use the creation of the sculptures to determine what the work really means to him. He capitalized on this method to experiment on the materials and determined how they behaved and misbehaved. His process of sculpting, he believed, lined up very well with his naming process.
At one point in Zablocki’s life, he worked with 600 pounds of clay over the course of two days, making two sculptures out of it. For the two weeks that followed, he covered them and refused to look at them. Once the two weeks were up, he saw the sculptures and was displeased with what he saw. He realized then that his work was too dark and serious. He decided then to incorporate more humor and randomness into his work. It was with this in mind that he challenged the traditional idea of ceramics.
Zablocki opposed the idea of aesthetics and compositions of traditional ceramic pieces. He never had any idea of how the composition would look after it’s been fired in the kiln or what would change. Instead of trying to work around this to achieve some aesthetically ideal sculpture, he embraced this idea of uncertainty to allow himself unmitigated creative freedom. The way he challenges traditional ceramic pieces to create a more abstract appeal can be compared to the art movements of Modernism, namely the abstract of Dadaism.
One thing that makes Alex Zablocki’s work so unique is his exploration and deconstruction of the medium he works with. It is like an introspective approach to his connection with the material he works with. He is known to, in contrast to many sculptures and ceramics artists, separate the glaze from the clay, using the glaze as its own sculptural material.
Much of his work is a mashup of psychedelic and vibrant colors grouped with monochromatic, de-saturated pastel colors. Some examples can be seen as such.
By mixing contrasting color scheme, separating the sculpting materials as their own objects, and concerning himself more with the process than the results, Alex Zablocki took a very unconventional approach to sculpting and came to reach new heights because of it.