Now Featuring Cody Hoyt
Cody Hoyt’s ceramic practice is a natural outgrowth of his other work. Whether making an image or an object, he’s very conscious of building as a generative process, how underlying structures become forms. It makes sense that part of his inspiration is the humble brick, workhorse of construction, full of infinite, incremental possibility. LPP is excited to offer a selection of Cody’s ceramics work as well as a zine.
MH: I know you have a painting and drawing background. How did you get started with clay and functional objects? What appealed to you or intrigued you?
CH: My works on paper are experiments with space and architecture. I have series of drawings, whole bodies of work even, based on bricks and slabs. Bricks are functional objects. I was using concrete to cast bricks in my studio and needed to take it further. That’s how I ended up picking up ceramics, as a way to push these ideas through. The process is appealing to me in the same tactile way that drawing and building are. It’s a process that can be totally devoid of technological influence. I’m not opposed to digital media or social networking or technology, I’m just totally dissatisfied with how transient it ultimately ends up being.
MH: Can you talk about your color choices? The muted, natural colors of the clay bodies you work with are such a contrast to the geometric shapes.
CH: Surface is obviously really important to me. All of the variation in pattern and color on the surface of the vessels is made up of different clay bodies and is built into the piece. The colors are muted because they are the clay’s natural color. Contrast is what I’m mainly after here. Color is very important to my work, but a little bit goes a longer way with these objects.
MH: What kind of materials and clay bodies do you work with? And what’s your hand-building process like?
CH: I use a high fire stoneware clay. I also use mason stain to tint porcelain slip to achieve a broader color palette. My hand building process is based around slabs. In one version of the process I’ll combine different clay bodies into a single mass and then roll that out and cut slabs from it. Another method involves rolling out a slab and placing smaller slices of previously patterned clay onto the slab, like a veneer. The slab ultimately gets folded up inside of a planar mockup of the final form. This way the wet clay can be supported as it dries. Once that happens it gets cleaned up and smoothed out.
MH: How do you visualize people using your vessels? How do you use them yourself?
CH: I try not to visualize people using the vessels. Maybe I made a piece that was inspired by some beautiful rare succulent but the person who bought it uses it to feed their dog Jell-O. The functionality is deliberately vague and versatile. The only pieces I keep are broken ones and failed attempts. They hang out in the studio for reference. I put plants in most of them.
MH: Pattern seems to be important in your work. How has it been jumping from using drawing processes to explore pattern to using a 3 dimensional building process with clay?
CH: When using pattern in a work on paper, I’m letting process dictate the result. A few examples are: blocking out a motif that rigidly follows an isometric grid, various spray textures from an airbrush/spray gun, using industrial mezzotint/halftone patterns, and laying down broad monochromatic strokes of paint. Making a drawing is assembling parts but also editing and letting austerity creep in. It’s hard to describe exactly why, but I think it’s the same with the ceramic work. The pattern is mostly made from remnants of previous pieces and therefore has an incidental quality, which I hope makes the motif feel organic like wood grain or agate.
MH: Are you continuing to make non-functional objects as well? What are they like, and how is your clay work influencing your other work now.
CH: In the studio I try not to be self-limiting in any way, but almost all of the 3D work I consider finished has some inherent functionality. I don’t think it needs functionality to be valid, but I am very aware of the points in which studio work becomes “art.” My sculptural work is influencing the 2D work in the way I need it to, which is to dial in the portrayal of space and the precarious relationships of planes and angles. There’s more life in there now.
MH: As an example, you mentioned getting inspiration from a plant. What else inspires you, formally and conceptually?
CH: I’m conceptually inspired by creative people who are able to make work that taps into and engages history and culture in a meaningful way. To be able to look around the past and present and find a thread and imbue a sensibility of connectedness into the work is inspiring. It’s tricky to go beyond merely referencing something and to sustain an idea. It’s a lofty goal and something I am challenged by, so I live in awe of those who are able to pull it off with success.
I’m formally inspired by so many things. I’ll be really specific and say that I’m perpetually excited by this exploration of the building block, specifically concrete screen bricks that have a functional/decorative duality. They remind me of typography, and it’s exciting to find such a basic starting place that connects structure and gravity with symbols and information. Visually they express so much: light, shape, weight, materiality, space. All the good stuff.
MH: What artists and craftspeople are you excited by right now?
CH: The dangerous abundance of unattributed images on Tumblr means I get really excited by single images rather than absorbing an artist’s body of work. But specifically, I would cite Ron Nagle, Martin Boyce, Gordon Bunshaft and Louis Kahn as a few fellows who I’m currently digesting very slowly.