Talking with Amanda Kopas
Amanada Kopas is an emerging ceramist and art educator. Her moody, gothic vessels and vases in Flower District push current glazing trends into new depths of dark, juicy and delicious. Kat Von D are you seeing this? She lives and works in Hamilton, Ontario.
PS: How do traditional techniques and shapes, say, of European porcelain vases, inform your work?
AK: I'm drawn to European porcelain because of how excessive it is. The total gluttony of frills, and gold, and drama, it's just so over the top. My favourite piece is this pink and white commemorative plate with lattice and sculpted edges, gold lustre, the whole 9 yards of surface decoration, and in the center it's a white Persian cat, all this glitz and glam for someone’s pet cat. Seeing this as a historical practise of an entire era of making gives me "permission" to not hold back and to put everything into one piece to embody that feeling of maximalism.
PS: Your glazes are so dark, moody delicious. What's behind this look?
AK: The colour and texture choices link to my interest in European porcelain, I love the drama. The glazes in particular add something I can't add with just surface decoration alone because I can't control it nearly as much as I do with carving or underglaze. The way the glazes drip and run over the images skewing or covering them invites the viewer to really get close to the pieces, inspect them. The longer you spend time with them, the more you'll find.
PS: The words "buck the fuck up" appear on a small vessel. What's the story there?
AK: "Buck the fuck up" is a funny story. In college and we were having a studio meeting and somebody was whining, and kept whining throughout the entire 30 minutes. I had my notebook out and was doodling, it helps me focus to keep my hands busy, and this snarky demon lady is what I ended up drawing. Most of my drawings that are on my pots are on scraps of lined paper and class notes, and after each semester I tear out the ones I like the best and keep them in a folder. At NSCAD I taped them all up in my studio space and began using them as imagery for my pots.
PS: Congrats on you recent graduation from NSCAD. What made you want to study ceramics?
AK: Thank you! And I've always been an artistic person, but when I was in high school my co-op placement was at the Dundas Valley School of Art in the pottery studio. I worked under the kiln technician, Ed, loading the kilns and mixing glazes. All the students there were so kind, and someone gave me a bit of clay and some stamps so I could make some pendants and participate in a Raku firing. After that they never got rid of me. After graduating highs school I took a year off to work and didn't have any idea what I would want to go to school for, I found a 3-month ceramics certificate program in Haliburton at Fleming College. I didn't even think I could go to school for specifically clay at the time and I figured if I could do it for 3 months then I could probably do 3 years.
PS: Your Hamilton studio is an artist's dream. Tell us what you'll be up to in there this summer.
AK: Thanks! I'm working on a collaborative show with Sara Brown who is a writer. I'm illustrating her poetry book "Penumbra", which will be dropping this November, and will then be creating ceramic works based on the drawings and will be showing them together as a art show/poetry reading. I've taken on a few commission projects, as well as applied to showcase functional work alongside a few sculptural pieces.
*edited from personal email conversations