Sarah Duyer is a San Francisco-based artist who brings ceramic tableware to life in unsettling and thought-provoking ways. Teapots with spidery legs scuttle across their platforms, dripping with black and blood red paint; bowls and mugs with human teeth and fingers resemble the offspring of botched laboratory experiments. Infused with body parts and the illusion of movement, each pot, bowl, and mug seems to take on a half-consciousness that troubles its status as an ordinary, innocent object.
Duyer’s creations arise from a curiosity about how an object’s design can produce comfort or discomfort—and her works elicit both. By coupling fun, pastel colors with creepy body parts, her works make us amused and repulsed. The interplay of life and death is also visible; one teapot (or “creature pot,” as she calls them) appears to stumble wearily, half of its legs broken off. The use of encaustic wax and rough, exposed clay in some of her pieces further adds to this ominous theme of biological deterioration.
In the following statement provided to Beautiful/Decay, Duyer explains her unique and investigative approach to ceramics, which seeks to re-explore the medium while reinvesting familiar objects with meaning:
“Ceramics as a medium is kind of tricky to classify, since it’s still stuck in the debate of whether it should be considered a fine art or a craft. I think with this project I really wanted to utilize my knowledge of traditional forms and techniques and challenge the idea that the two have to be separate. I wanted to alter the tradition and explore the relationship we have with the ceramic pieces that we interact with on a daily basis.”