New Ceramics from Russell Wrankle

The Stiletto and the HareFetish RedConjuring the BuzzardFingering the Aorta TortugaTwo words have recently entered my vocabulary; haptic, which is of or relating to the sense of touch and heuristic, learning through trial and error, experimentation, self teaching and evaluating feedback to improve one’s performance. The relationship between these two words in the context of art making is that both imply action. The creative mind becomes active when the body interacts with material. The way to improve performance is by physically implementing ideas. Experimenting with an idea, and responding to it then enters the feedback loop, which in turn, improves the original idea. My approach to art making is defined by these two words; hands on and always improving.
For a long time, I’ve been sculpting gravity and within this gravitational framework I fold fetish, animals, membrane and sex into the subject matter. I begin with a formal concern; that is, can I reproduce an existing object out of clay? The recent addition of the red stiletto into my repertoire, for example, is a response to a student dancer at last year’s Southern Utah University graduation, where I teach. She wore them so beautifully and gracefully that I tried to capture that joyous occasion in clay.

Lately, I’m less compelled to attach language to my work. I try to work beyond intellect, within a stream of consciousness and rely more on the visceral and intuitive. The test to determine if an idea is compelling and worth pursuing is that I stay engaged throughout the making process. The stiletto, for example, was intended to be a one- off, but when I began making it, the heuristic feedback loop began and more ideas came to mind.

As I begin to attach meaning to an object and idea a narrative begins to take shape. The narrative usually corresponds with memories or experiences from my formative years, but not always. Sometimes I stay with an idea simply because I appreciate the formal qualities of the object and nothing more. I suspect, however, that a more complex narrative will eventually reveal itself if I stay with an idea long enough.

While making any particular piece, I try to keep my inner critic at bay and wait until it is finished so that I can judge my work more objectively and from a less emotional point of view. I hope others value my art, but mostly, I make work to address my own particular artistic point of view and it’s my way of making sense of the world.