Even though in the XXI century, graphic art has started regaining popularity among the general audience, the art of ceramics seems to have been long forgotten nowadays. Thankfully, artists like Steve Tobin keep reminding about the potential of ceramics as a tool for artistic expression.
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Combining the time-honored traditions of ceramics art with some of the most extraordinary approaches, Tobin manages to not only shock the viewers into paying attention, but also create the mind-benders that make the viewers reflect on some of the key philosophical dilemmas of the XXI century.
Although Steve Tobin is known as a sculptor in a more general sense and works with a range of different materials and tools, it is his use of ceramics as the basic material for artworks that have made him famous all over the world. What makes Tobin’s work so fantastic is the unusual approach towards creating a unique mood for each of the artworks.
For example, his most recent creation rendered the issue of nature and its tremendous power that people cannot have any possible control. Called “Exploding Earth,” it was created with the help of ceramics and explosives, which already is a very peculiar blend of artistic tools.
As Tobin explained, the fragments that had been created with the help of the explosion revealed a unique palette of colors, which resulted from a chemical reaction between the ceramics, the explosives and the temperature as the catalyst: “These colors all come from the explosive” (Barrett 0:4:38–0:4:40).
It is also quite impressive that Tobin does not shy away from prompting discussions on religious issues, which his fascinating Trinity Root (Tobin para. 3) is a graphic example of. The weird shape of the magnificent ceramic installation seems carved out of the world of the surreal and placed into the realm of the ordinary.
Nevertheless, it would be wrong to claim that in Tobin’s work, the priority is given to form, whereas the meaning is shifted into the background. Quite on the contrary, the artist has managed to locate the point of a delicate balance between the two, which is very rare for modern ceramic sculpture artists. As Perreault explains, “Some current ceramics seem more obsessed with technical chic than with action” (Perreault 63).
Tobin, on the contrary, manages to breathe new life into the objects that he uses in his installations, and always makes sure that the technology used in the process of art creation should not reduce the significance of the idea behind the artworks. However, Tobin also makes very efficient use of modern technology, which the exploded Earth shows in a rather graphic way.
With the range of opportunities that the technological breakthrough has opened for artists of the XXI century, the art of ceramics allows for pushing the envelope and offering a new way of looking at well-trodden ideas, which Steve Tobin is perfectly aware of (Grande para. 1). Tobin creates the artworks that help look at such ideas as the creation of the world, the wonders of nature, etc. from a different angle.
The world needs more of Steve Tobin and his works. Being anything but conventional, they allow looking at the elements of the ordinary from a different angle, thus, helping the audience spot a range of details that have passed unnoticed before.
Barrett, Charles. Steve Tobin – Exploded Earth. YouTube. 15 Jan. 20107. Web. 4 Apr. 2014. <http://youtu.be/1m_sHGFf4o8>.
Grande, John K. “Steve Tobin’s Exploded Earth Works.”Ceramics technical 24 (2007): n. p.
Perreault, John. Steve Tobin. “Ideas and Theater.” Ceramics Monthly March 2001: 59–63.
Tobin, Steve. Steve Tobin. 2014. Web. 4 Apr. 2014. <http://www.stevetobin.com/index.html>.