June 8, 2023
Ariela Nomi Kuh
Returning to The Imperfect
Photography and Videography by Em McCann Zauder, Interview and Video Edit by Sylvia Estes
SE: Can you tell me your name and what you do?
ANK: My name is Ariela Nomi Kuh and I make things out of clay.
SE: How has your process evolved overtime?
ANK: My first love [was] with painting. I studied visual art in college, [then] found clay afterwards. It was my first opportunity to really think about space in a three-dimensional way. I started off working on the wheel, so all the forms were related to centripetal force and engaging with symmetry. Now I do hand-building. I’m really interested in asymmetry and the way a form can have different characteristics and personalities depending on which angle you see it from. I’m interested in organic and imperfect forms.
SE: How much do you plan each piece as opposed to finding it along the way?
ANK: I usually start with a plan. I make a lot of sketches and I take notes. I very rarely execute the two dimensional idea into a three-dimensional piece. It inevitably diverges somewhere along the way.I have to respond to what’s happening in front of me… I can always start again with another piece and return to that same starting place, but I think my best work comes from when I’m really responding to myself as opposed to the concept that I started off with.
SE: What part of the process do you find the most challenging?
ANK: I would say glazing is the most challenging for me. I still think like a painter, even though I haven’t made paintings in a long time. Similar to how I feel about working with clay, I want to be able to respond to something. With glazing there is this inevitable break and delay in the process. You have to have faith. There are ways that you can shape your glaze practice so that you can have more control but for me it’s sort of about letting go.
SE: How is your creative process integrated with your daily life?
ANK: I love cooking, I love gardening, I love picking flowers. I think I am still processing some of the things I do at the studio in the evening when I’m cooking dinner and also finding ideas when I’m out in the world. Especially in the woods.
SE: Can you talk a little bit more about what you find in the woods?
ANK: I think the diversity of nature is endlessly awe-inspiring… The textures of lichen have recently come into my glaze practice. I’m always thinking about rocks, which is essentially what all this stuff is made of. I am fascinated by mushrooms and mycelium and the complexity of these systems that I barely understand, and then light and color and the way everything is sort of cyclical.
SE: I would be interested in hearing if you feel like that cyclical observation is reflected in your practice.
ANK: Yeah, I think that there’s so much about our culture at large that’s always striving for progress and improvement. I think I know that I already have all that I need. I don’t need to add in new things all the time. It is a helpful reminder that you can work with the same ingredients over and over again, and find new pathways and it’s also a relief to return to things. It’s nice to stay in one place I think.
Ariela Nomi Kuh
Works on view
May — July 2023
212 Main Street
Germantown, NY 12526