November 2011

Potter’s Field

Artist and designer Geoff McFetridge adds ceramics to his ever-expanding media mix
by MAYER RUS / portraits by ANDREW MACPHERSON

Geoff McFetridge would seem an unlikely candidate to undertake a collaboration with the 63-year-old California pottery concern Heath Ceramics. The artist’s crisp, graphic style and signature drawings—which he applies to everything from skateboard decks and film animation to clothing and corporate ads—appear far removed from the crafty-earthy ethos of both Heath and the artists typically invited to exhibit in the Los Angeles showroom. That improbability, however, makes the prospect of a meeting of the minds all the more intriguing.

“Heath has never done anything with imagery before—just shape and color,” says Adam Silverman, its L.A. studio director and a friend of McFetridge. “Geoff is incredibly facile working in two dimensions, like silkscreening and printmaking. We wanted to facilitate his move into another material.”

The success of that move can be judged later this month, when My Head Disappears When My Hands Are Thinking, a frolicsome exhibition of McFetridge’s work, shows at Heath November 12–January 2. One-of-a-kind and limited-edition ceramics will be displayed in an immersive environment that includes original paintings and drawings, new wallpaper designs (under his Pottok Prints imprimatur) and handprinted linen tablecloths and napkins.

“I have a basic set of ideas that can be applied to different materials and processes, but ultimately everything is based on drawing,” McFetridge says. “The process of carving pots is immediate and physical. You’re working out ideas as you’re actually making the thing. There’s a lot of screwing up that goes on—and I like that.”

His ceramic plates are adorned with hybrid images of hands and creatures. Other vessels feature clay carvings and applied medallions that nod to ancient Roman coins. For the printed fabrics, McFetridge returns to his familiar drawings of people, translated variously into patterns both dense and loose. “I’m playing with the notion of decorativeness—exploring ways to inject thoughts and ideas into decoration,” he says. “I like things to be unclassified, somehow in between design, illustration and art.”

The exploration will continue throughout the show, as McFetridge plumbs the possibilities of his new medium and adds pieces to the mix. On Saturday, December 3, he and Silver-man will hold a studio talk at Heath’s Beverly Boulevard shop.

“At this point, we’re still doing a lot of experimenting,” Silverman says. “Some things Geoff is trying will obviously be more successful than others, but that’s the exciting part of working through a process in which you’re not sure where you’re going to end up.”