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Cybele Rowe.

There is nothing sexier than a curve, there is nothing more simple than clay, there is nothing more thrilling than huge amounts of thermal energy and the alchemy that comes with it.--Cybele Rowe


IN THE DEBATE OF WHERE THE LINE IN THE SAND SHOULD be drawn when classifying one as a ceramist or sculptor, Cybele Rowe challenges this traditional paradigm and instead presents an image of an artist who is both sculptor and ceramist in the purest sense of the words.

As a ceramic sculptor, Rowe works in the monumental. Unlike artists who prefer the more familiar metal, wood or marble, Rowe's primary medium of choice is clay. Rowe believes clay satisfies even the most demanding requirements for a sculptor. This is never more apparent then in the process of glazing where an artist is exposed to the most fluid colour palette available. At the same time, clay provides the element of tactility that satisfies her most base desires as a sculptor. Clay, unlike any other medium, allows for the process to be the determinant. Where a block of stone has inherent beauty, mud from the earth imparts minimum aesthetic values. Instead it is the artist who must bring forth this beauty. It is a medium of creativity rather than deduction, a process of construction not deconstruction.

Rowe describes clay as the most honest and sensual of media. It is open to the suggestion of change. The concept of spontaneity is introduced as the kiln, not the artist, decides when the work is finished. Her works are not predetermined or analytical but organic. Each suggests the next.


Rowe's ceramic works are hollow freestanding single piece ceramic forms. They have no clay or metal infrastructure. They rely on the coil of the clay coupled with the strength of the firing for their permanence and completed form. Simply put, Rowe believes if it can stand on its own going into the kiln it certainly can stand after it is fired. All works are fired to Cone 5 for five days. Rowe works at Mission Clay Products in Corona, California with the generosity and encouraging support of ceramic patron, Bryan Vansell. Relying on one firing to keep the spontaneity of the works, Rowe chooses to glaze as she builds. There are three types of clay she chooses to use, all providing differing aesthetics in the final work. Firstly, Rowe works with local clay that was developed for Jerry Rothman (FSB or Fullerton Sculpture Body) made by Aardvark Ceramics of Southern California. This clay creates a very 'rocklike aesthetic'. In contrast, IMCO's sculpture Paper Clay gives a smooth 'eggshell in space' quality to the fired work. Currently, Rowe's new favourite clay is Toki's Special Blend Paper Clay made by IMCO and developed by John Toki. This clay has all of the rock-like strength of a sculpture body with the flexibility and building strength of paper clay. Her favourite underglazes, which Rowe heavily relies on due to their ability to keep their vibrancy in a one-fire process are Leslie Ceramic Supply Company underglazes developed by John Toki specifically for greenware.

In her current series The Evolution of the Curve or Curvelution, Rowe accentuates the sensuality and power of the curve as it bends and curves into an erotic, colourful and playful form. As a female sculptor working the most fluid of media, Rowe explains; "I cannot help in the past 25 years but to be continuously drawn toward the evolution of the curve."

Rowe fuses together the concept of essence and desire. With line, form, colour and scale, Rowe creates imagery that draws on the archetypal image of the primal. A vessel in its simplest sense is a container. Traditionally, vessels held items from nourishment to precious materials. Rowe extends this definition, as to her the space inside the form is as thrilling as the space it claims on the outside. Both surfaces are exciting: the inside and the outside.

Her sculptures hold their own power. As an artist, Rowe becomes the shaman who wills the works in to existence. In completion, the sculpture has its own voice of strength. The sculpture contains a spirit willed to it by its creator. The viewer is presented not with a conventional object of desire but with a more primal sense of the word. As one walks in the room and is confronted by monumental works biomorphic in nature, Rowe wants the viewer's blood pressure to rise. As abstracted human forms, they allow for the experience of humanness without the literal translation. Yet each is larger than human scale and mysterious. When asked about her reasons for the monumental, Rowe easily replies that people climb the highest mountain because they desire the grand. Why clay? And she will simply say that she loves the mystery of life and the mystery of the kiln. More importantly it calls forth the idea of myth. Each work embodies something greater than itself. Each embodies an essence of life, love, sexuality, birth and the journey of living.


Her series built specifically for an exhibition at Laguna's Museum of Art; The Infinity Suite is inspired by the space where water meets land's edge and the possibility of the infinite begins. Here sand shores and rippling tide pools create the landscape. The water carves out transitions, sometimes passively and sometimes aggressively. With her sculptures, Cybele Rowe honours these shifting forms and forces of nature. Her love of the ocean began simply with warm memories of growing up on Sydney's Harbour in Australia and continues still with her current home on the Southern California coastline. The Infinity Suite is infused with the delight and wonder experienced in her many journeys to the beach where she plays with her 10 year old son, Zak and three year old daughter, Galatea.


Virginia Repasky brings with her 15 years of fine art experience. She holds a Bachelors degree in Art History and English Literature as well as a Masters in Fine and Decorative Arts from Sotheby's Institute, London and the University of Manchester. Her experience working in the fine art field ranges from Sotheby's auction house in the Chinese Department to fine art galleries in San Francisco and Los Angeles. In 2006, she opened her art management company to promote and advocate for a select group of prominent artists. She also works with many top interior designers on private and hospitality projects as an art consultant.

Rowe was awarded her Graduate and Post Graduate degrees in Fine Art Studies from the University of New South Wales, Australia. She resided in New York for almost a decade before coming to live with her family in the rustic town of Silverado in the middle of the forest behind the coastline of Laguna Beach, California. She has had numerous high profile exhibitions including the Bergdorf Goodman Stores New York, the World Bank, Kennedy Center and Australian Embassy Washington DC and has lectured for the Smithsonian Institute. In 2003 Rowe was the featured artist for VDay L/A at the Director's Guild Theatre, Hollywood. In recent years she has had solo exhibitions at Lowe Gallery, Los Angeles and Atlanta, the William Merrill Gallery, Laguna Beach and Sculpturesite, San Francisco. LUXE Magazine showcased the artist in a five-page editorial in their February/ March issue of 2007. In 2008, Rowe was an honorary artist and lecturer at the CCACA in Davis, California. Her works are in private collections and numerous prominent public institutions internationally.

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Title Annotation:ceramic sculptor
Author:Repasky, Virginia
Publication:Ceramics Art & Perception
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2009
Previous Article:Christin Johansson: if you could ... would you?
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