Cj Jilek: Sculptural Botanist

There must have been a moment in the life of Cj Jilek where she stopped to smell the roses and then noticed the surrounding plants and just never looked back.  Jilek is a ceramic artist who is inspired by everything about plants, the colors, the textures, the shapes, and especially the biology surrounding them.  

Based in Pomona, CA Jilek works as the Assistant Studio Director at the American Museum of Ceramic Art, which gives her the opportunity to not just work with people excited about ceramics but also to work on her craft in a dedicated studio space.  But Jilek wasn't always settled in to her surroundings, she has traveled all over the world including Australia, South Korea and Poland where she worked at a traditional ceramic factory in Boleslawiec.  Jilek's work is a direct reflection of her environment and looking throughout her body of work, one can see it manifest.  Jilek states, "When I lived in the Midwest and flew over the agricultural areas my vessels referenced the aerial patterns of the fields, near the ocean it referenced sea life and the shoreline, in cities it’s more architectural."  In a way her sculptural pieces become tangible memories.

Another aspect to Jilek's work is a very sensual look that addresses  "sensuality, sexuality, attraction, desire, eroticism and acceptance" all elements that come to mind when one gazes upon Jilek's pieces.  In fact Jilek's work also holds a higher purpose for her pieces, she states "I'd like for our natural sexuality to not carry the shame and stigma that is attached to it in so many societies and cultures."  But Jilek's sculptures are not solely feminine she also creates masculine pieces  "When I pair two sculptures together I’m playing with the relationship and tension between forms to elicit the apprehension and anticipation that can arise with human attraction" said Jilek.

Never one to sit still Jilek now embarks on a trip back to Australia, this time as a presenter at Stepping Up: 14th Annual Australian Ceramics Triennial 2015. To off set the costs Jilek began a kick-starter campaign to raise funds, which ends June 11, 2015.  However the hosts of the conference, the Australian Ceramics Association, suffered a fire recently so Jilek has graciously dedicated a small portion of the funds raised to help the ACA recover after such a devastating fire. 

Jilek will be teaching Mold Making/Slip Casting classes this fall at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, CA.  She will also be doing workshops at the following: 
Stepping Up: 14th Australian Ceramics Triennial 2015, July 9-11, 2015, Canberra, ACT, Australia
Gold Coast Potters Association, July 19, 2015, Benowa, OLD Australia
Auckland Studio Potters, August 8 & 9, 2015, Auckland, New Zealand
Northern Rivers Pottery Supplies, August 1& 2, 2015, Lismore, NSW, Australia
Palos Verdes Art Center, Sept 12 &13, 2015, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

Upcoming Shows:

California Now, June 14-Aug 21, 2015 at Richmond Art Center, Richmond, CA
McGroaty Arts Center Presents: 12th Annual Ceramics Invitational Exhibition, June 13- June 27, 2015 Tujunga, CA 
Coastline Community College Art Gallery, July 18 – August 18, 2015, Newport Beach, CA
History in the Making, Sep 4- 25, 2015, Carbondale Clay Center, Carbondale, CO
Stepping Up Ceramics Conference & Exhibition July 9-11, Canberra, Australia

Jilek works out of her studio space at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, CA where she is the Assistant Studio Director.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Jilek works out of her studio space at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, CA where she is the Assistant Studio Director.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Jilek  works on a cup in her studio at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Jilek works on a cup in her studio at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

The cups  Jilek  creates have a unique style to them that emphasizes the organic nature of plants.  Photo © Aimee Santos

The cups Jilek creates have a unique style to them that emphasizes the organic nature of plants.  Photo © Aimee Santos

'Quiet Openings' 2009 by Cj  Jilek .  Image courtesy of the artist.

'Quiet Openings' 2009 by Cj Jilek.  Image courtesy of the artist.

A closer look at one of  Jilek 's cups shows how much time and effort is taken to create detail and form.  Photo © Aimee Santos

A closer look at one of Jilek's cups shows how much time and effort is taken to create detail and form.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Utilizing wet porcelain  Jilek  dabs dots onto her forms to give it more of texture, one of the many steps taken to create her pieces.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Utilizing wet porcelain Jilek dabs dots onto her forms to give it more of texture, one of the many steps taken to create her pieces.  Photo © Aimee Santos

A detail of 'Calyx 3' from  Jilek 's  2012 collection.  Photo © Aimee Santos

A detail of 'Calyx 3' from Jilek's  2012 collection.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Two of  Jilek 's pieces, 'Tongue & Cheek' and 'Anther Series' lay finished while she works in her studio.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Two of Jilek's pieces, 'Tongue & Cheek' and 'Anther Series' lay finished while she works in her studio.  Photo © Aimee Santos

The creation of  Jilek 's larger pieces requires a session of three straight hours of work in order to maintain the structure of the porcelain and to prevent cracking and balance.  Photo © Aimee Santos

The creation of Jilek's larger pieces requires a session of three straight hours of work in order to maintain the structure of the porcelain and to prevent cracking and balance.  Photo © Aimee Santos

'Anthoycyanin' 2012.  Image courtesy of the artist.  

'Anthoycyanin' 2012.  Image courtesy of the artist.  

Molds help  Jilek  create the initial forms for her biomorphic sculptures and saves time as well.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Molds help Jilek create the initial forms for her biomorphic sculptures and saves time as well.  Photo © Aimee Santos

'Anther Series 6' 2010  Image courtesy of the artist.  

'Anther Series 6' 2010  Image courtesy of the artist.  

Jilek  uses plaster molds to help balance the setting of her sculpture during a work day in the studios of the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Jilek uses plaster molds to help balance the setting of her sculpture during a work day in the studios of the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

'Perianth' 2014  Image courtesy of the artist.

'Perianth' 2014  Image courtesy of the artist.

Tools of the trade and then some.   Jilek , like many ceramic artists, utilize a variety of tools to get the texture they want.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Tools of the trade and then some.  Jilek, like many ceramic artists, utilize a variety of tools to get the texture they want.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Jilek  presses a dowel stick into each piece giving it a unique look and carrying as much of the mark of  Jilek  as possible.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Jilek presses a dowel stick into each piece giving it a unique look and carrying as much of the mark of Jilek as possible.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Jilek  wears one of her signature necklaces while creating more for her kickstarter campaign.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Jilek wears one of her signature necklaces while creating more for her kickstarter campaign.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Jackie Wride: Earthworks Artist

There is an ethereal beauty to the way Jackie Wride works her magic, it's as if she transfers a part of her essence into each and every sculpture no matter the size.  Wride has a very specific way of working that upon first glance seems controlled and organized but every piece she creates is intuitive and carries with it personal meaning.  You don't have to know what that meaning is to know that she loves every minute of making these unique sculptures. 

Not surprisingly at a young age Wride knew, and so did her family, that her path in life would be a creative one.  "Shape and texture from the earth" Wride says that is her vocabulary.   With any ceramic artist there is two paths as options in life, functional or sculptural, Wride falls into the sculptural but I would imagine a moment comes upon her and a functional piece is born.  It's rare but I have seen some beautiful vases that I have never seen anywhere else.  Wride's specialty is objects that have what she terms "embellished patterns" that feel ancient but are uniquely hers. 

Growing up in San Diego, Wride was exposed to the earth from the beginning.  Inspired by the ocean Wride vowed to always live near nature, near the surf and near the water and so she has.  You will never guess what is in her backyard, a creek.  From the moment she wakes up Wride is surrounded by nature and it's not just the botanical environment it's also the societal environment that has helped shape Wride trajectory.  Santa Cruz Wride says "seems more peaceful than Southern California, and the local community is more interested in art here."  

It's the community that has now become such an integral part of Wride's next evolution in her earthworks pieces.  "People like the idea of walking along the beach or a hiking trail and coming across a surprise" said Wride.  Her works are all across Santa Cruz County and nearby towns on beaches, near creeks and all within access to the public.  The goal of this body of work is simply to get the public to interact with her art and to evoke a reaction.  And possibly to change the way people think about the earth, because as news reports keep telling us, it's a fragile environment that keeps getting hit with pollution, illegal dumping and offshore oil drilling to name a few. 

While composing her earthworks installations, Wride takes several elements into consideration ones that do not play into a gallery type environment and which invigorate her creative process.  "I realize that when I am arranging my ceramic art into the landscape, shadows and reflections of the place become part of the composition, says Wride.  In her ceramic work Wride uses patterns in the clay inspired by landscapes and nature so it made sense to start incorporating these pieces, no matter how small, into the organic landscapes of nature.  

Residing in Ben Lomond, CA Wride has maintained a family life, finished graduate school at San Jose State University while welcoming the birth of her first child and accomplished a massive undertaking of uniquely hand built pieces for her Thesis project.  It was all of these challenges in her life that manifested into her art, unknowingly.  In her sculptural work from 2014 one can see tall structures that emphasize a 'balance' both literally and, knowing Wride's life, figuratively as well.  Wride says, "I know how to push myself, to meet my goals and get through it" which one can see in her work.  Determination is usually the backbone of success and when life throws challenges your way it is most likely for a reason.

Another venture to Wride's work is her summer program teaching students of all ages.  "Teaching is very rewarding to me because I want my students to be reminded how magical the world really is and feel positive about life."  Wride has been teaching summer classes in San Diego and has now brought her craft to Santa Cruz County with classes in ceramic sculpture, painting, glass fusing and mosaics.  The best part is that every aspect of creation happens at the same location because Wride has her own kiln, to fire ceramic sculptures, which allows her students to go home with finished work at the end of the weekly session. 

To work with Jackie Wride this summer check out her Summer Arts Program in Ben Lomond, CA.

The placement of each piece in Wride's installations is how she operates, even going so far as to carry jars of specific designs together to make sure they are placed in order.  Photo © Aimee Santos

The placement of each piece in Wride's installations is how she operates, even going so far as to carry jars of specific designs together to make sure they are placed in order.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Surfers wandered into Wride's Davenport Landing installation after a day of surfing.  The interaction of the community is an important element of Wride's installations that truly excites her.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Surfers wandered into Wride's Davenport Landing installation after a day of surfing.  The interaction of the community is an important element of Wride's installations that truly excites her.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Detail of the organic curves in Wride's work.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Detail of the organic curves in Wride's work.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Detail of one of Wride's mosaic fountains.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Detail of one of Wride's mosaic fountains.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Earthworks Sculpture from January 9, 2015 by Jackie Wride in Santa Cruz, CA.  Photo courtesy of the artist.

Earthworks Sculpture from January 9, 2015 by Jackie Wride in Santa Cruz, CA.  Photo courtesy of the artist.

I think it’s worthwhile to take a break from technology and explore artistic expression.
— Jackie Wride
Even Wride's smallest pieces hold elements of her balancing theme that travels throughout all her pieces.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Even Wride's smallest pieces hold elements of her balancing theme that travels throughout all her pieces.  Photo © Aimee Santos

In addition to her ceramic and earthwork installations Wride also does commission pieces like this fountain that has thousands of individual ceramic pieces.  Wride plans out these fountains months in advance, knowing the color scheme, and details all in her head.  In the final execution of the fountain it is all intuitive as well as functional.  If you want one click the image and contact her for more information.  Photo © Aimee Santos

In addition to her ceramic and earthwork installations Wride also does commission pieces like this fountain that has thousands of individual ceramic pieces.  Wride plans out these fountains months in advance, knowing the color scheme, and details all in her head.  In the final execution of the fountain it is all intuitive as well as functional.  If you want one click the image and contact her for more information.  Photo © Aimee Santos

'Gaviota'   installation of found organic materials, ceramics, porcelain, and stoneware cone 018 to cone 10, silver and bronze lost cast wax method castings, glass fusings.   Dimensions 14'x8'x10' Photo ©   Aimee Santos

'Gaviota'  installation of found organic materials, ceramics, porcelain, and stoneware cone 018 to cone 10, silver and bronze lost cast wax method castings, glass fusings.   Dimensions 14'x8'x10' Photo © Aimee Santos

Jackie Wride adds freshly moulded clay to an arch piece that holds multiple fired clay pieces all created by Jackie's hands.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Jackie Wride adds freshly moulded clay to an arch piece that holds multiple fired clay pieces all created by Jackie's hands.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Earthworks Sculpture from January 23, 2015 in Ben Lomand, CA by Jackie Wride.  Photo courtesy of the artist.

Earthworks Sculpture from January 23, 2015 in Ben Lomand, CA by Jackie Wride.  Photo courtesy of the artist.

When I am working outdoors and creating something new, I feel that I have found the purpose of my art.
— Jackie Wride
Detail of installation 'Gaviota' that incorporates wood, ceramics, sand, found materials from nature.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Detail of installation 'Gaviota' that incorporates wood, ceramics, sand, found materials from nature.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Professor Stan Welsh visits with Jackie Wride in her graduate studio at San Jose State University.  Graduate students were required to explain their process to professors both from their committee and faculty auditioning for committees.  The process of explaining one's art is an important part of graduate school and Wride enjoys speaking with everyone about her art and her process.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Professor Stan Welsh visits with Jackie Wride in her graduate studio at San Jose State University.  Graduate students were required to explain their process to professors both from their committee and faculty auditioning for committees.  The process of explaining one's art is an important part of graduate school and Wride enjoys speaking with everyone about her art and her process.  Photo © Aimee Santos

As a ceramic artist tools can be from everywhere from traditional to conventional.  In this case a rolling pin used to flatten out clay ended up on the beach while Wride creates fresh sculptures to add to her installations at Davenport Landing in Davenport, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

As a ceramic artist tools can be from everywhere from traditional to conventional.  In this case a rolling pin used to flatten out clay ended up on the beach while Wride creates fresh sculptures to add to her installations at Davenport Landing in Davenport, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

A charcoal drawing by Wride hangs in the hallway of her graduate studio at San Jose State University.  Photo © Aimee Santos

A charcoal drawing by Wride hangs in the hallway of her graduate studio at San Jose State University.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Earthworks Sculpture from January 16, 2015 by Jackie Wride in Santa Cruz, CA.  Photo courtesy of the artist.

Earthworks Sculpture from January 16, 2015 by Jackie Wride in Santa Cruz, CA.  Photo courtesy of the artist.

Wride becomes immersed in her installation at Davenport Landing in Davenport, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Wride becomes immersed in her installation at Davenport Landing in Davenport, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Sculptures waiting for glaze are specifically placed in order at Wride's studio.  Every time she leaves for the day she makes sure everything is clean and orderly.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Sculptures waiting for glaze are specifically placed in order at Wride's studio.  Every time she leaves for the day she makes sure everything is clean and orderly.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Peering through one archway to view another at Davenport Landing in Davenport, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Peering through one archway to view another at Davenport Landing in Davenport, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Organically shaped sculptures flow through the floor of a student gallery at San Jose State University's Art Building.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Organically shaped sculptures flow through the floor of a student gallery at San Jose State University's Art Building.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Wride's shoes fill with sand during her installation at Davenport Landing.  The earth is incredibly important to her art it's an element that puts her at peace and inspires her at the same time.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Wride's shoes fill with sand during her installation at Davenport Landing.  The earth is incredibly important to her art it's an element that puts her at peace and inspires her at the same time.  Photo © Aimee Santos

A detail of a coaster sculpted by Wride shows how every single element has details.  Photo © Aimee Santos

A detail of a coaster sculpted by Wride shows how every single element has details.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Wride sculpts elaborate pieces that holds detail after detail the closer and closer one looks.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Wride sculpts elaborate pieces that holds detail after detail the closer and closer one looks.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Remnants of branches cast a shadow from the night lights on her graduate studio walls at San Jose State University.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Remnants of branches cast a shadow from the night lights on her graduate studio walls at San Jose State University.  Photo © Aimee Santos