BEN MEDANSKY

BEN MEDANSKY

“Having grown up in Arizona, I always knew winter is a choice, and I chose no.
So, when faced with the option of moving to New York or Los Angeles after graduating from The Art Institute of Chicago, in 2010, I picked L.A.

I started out in ECHO PARK, and now my home is in SILVER LAKE, right by the reservoir. I share the house with a friend I met playing dodgeball for the FUN ACTIVE GENTLEMEN’S SOCIETY, or the F.A.G.S. Everyone I’ve met here, if not from dodgeball, is one degree away from it.

Most items in my bedroom, including ceramics I’ve made, have been acquired over the years I’ve lived in L.A., and each piece of my own in here was made in a different studio. Looking at them reminds me of my journey.”

“I made the blue piece my senior year of college as part of my BFA show. It’s from an era when I explored patheticism, flaccidness, and the force of gravity with regard to ceramics.”

“Plants are really important to me, [as is] making vessels that something can live in. The fern is the one thing I’ve kept alive through the three moves I’ve made since arriving in Los Angeles.”

“When I first moved here, I worked for the artist SHIO KUSAKA. She makes very simple pieces that are a bit wabi sabi — an aesthetic my art also embraces — and gifted this vessel to me.

Her ceramics have since become world renown and, because of that, are worth a lot now.

“The neon heart was decor for a party that my roommate often deejays, called Spotlight, which is an underground queer event that’s heavy on good music and dancing. It’s kind of like parties that happen in Berlin, or that used to happen here in Silver Lake, which is Los Angeles’s original ‘gayborhood.’”

“I made the crazy-looking lamps for a show I did a year after starting my company, [BEN MEDANSKY CERAMICS], in an attempt to experiment with light as sculpture. Now that I’ve started to create lighting again, it’s interesting to see how pieces like the new chandeliers I’ve made compare to these very early ones.”

“This is a picture of my dad, when he was around 11 years old, making cookies in the kitchen of my mom’s childhood home. My parents grew up next door to each other, and my dad would always go to my mom’s house to try and woo her, and her family.

What’s really amazing is that my dad is now a caterer — he throws the biggest, most elegant parties in Arizona — so this photo captured an incredible moment of him, as a kid, doing what he grew up to do professionally as an adult.”

“The mug is by PETER SHIRE, who I worked for when I lived in Echo Park.
I can’t remember if I bought it at one of his pottery sales, or if he gave it to me, but regardless the shapes in its design are what interest me. And the colors: black, blue, white, and pink.”

“I originally made the peg board for my first studio, as a place to display the hanging works like necklaces and other jewelry I was creating at that time.

Most everything on it now I didn’t produce — many of the pieces were acquired by trades, which, as an artist, are incredible opportunities to get other people’s work.”

“Having a laptop is just as important as having a kiln if you want to be a functioning ceramicist in Los Angeles.”

“I got really good at throwing cylinders, like this black piece, when I was working at THE HAAS BROTHERS’ studio. I met Nikolai and Simon [Haas] playing dodgeball, [before] I had a proper workplace. They offered me an eight month residency, during which I got to make ceramics, meet a bunch of cool people, and learn how a startup works.”

CREDITS

Photography byBramble Trionfo

As told toAnthony Rotunno

Ben Medansky is a ceramicist based in Los Angeles.

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