Deborah Dell is intrigued by the history of ceramics. The relationship that familiar forms have within the discourse of ceramics has long held her attention, in particular the vase. She observes that "vases have always existed as functional objects, as well as existed in the decorative and the contemplative realm. My interest in the vase is how all of these subjects converge."
Dell says "in the last few years, buds of flowers and cloister windows in Portugal inspired the ideas for my vases. Recently the flora and fauna of New Zealand have come to the forefront of my visual thinking. However, the work still contains suggestions of architectural ornamentation or refers to decorative history. Years ago I did a series of roof ornaments based on architectural ornamentation that I had seen in Portugal. Some of these forms and ideas are resurfacing with this more recent body of work. I also see the work referencing patterns in fabrics and wallpapers as well as images of flora and fauna from 17th century Persian paintings. Given the many influences on the work my goal is to have the visual inspirations remain sufficiently abstracted to encourage the viewer to take a closer look. My intention is to give rise to curiosity so the viewer may wonder what the piece is, what it is for and what it is referencing."
Functional ceramics, such as vases from makers like Dell who are engaged artistically with their practice, invite interesting questions relating to the aesthetic interface between maker and consumer. The latticework vase is complicated, highly practical and beautiful to look at. Advancing this historic form, Dell's virtuosity with a sometimes intractable material showcases her commitment, ideas and skill. Dell's practice also reflects the positive intergenerational influence that seminal individuals, Betty Woodman in particular, can have on an artist. She says of Woodman, "her work references many different cultures and yet it is completely contemporary. The work is audacious and brave. Her use of the wheel then altering and assembling parts has inspired the way I have made my work for the last 20 years."
Deborah Dell is currently living and working in New Zealand but is based in Colorado. She received her MA in Experiential Education with an emphasis in Ceramics in 1998 from the University of Colorado. Deborah has traveled extensively and lived in Japan and Portugal. While traveling one of her interests has been visiting gardens. These visits have inspired her work for many years. She has exhibited in Colorado and New York.
Objectspace acknowledges the support of the Unitec Department of Design & Visual Arts.