Studio Arts Faculty (Ceramics)
Luis Bermudez (b. 1953) is best known for his large-scale abstract architectonic ceramic sculptures. For over 20 years he has created ceramic sculpture that explores a wide variety of forms, including the vessel, architectural elements, mixed media and installations. It has been written that his sculptures, and in particular his vessels, often communicate a generic pre-Columbian presence. He attributes this to his belief in the possibility of a genetic memory, and acknowledges in his work the various degrees of memory, both conscious and unconscious, in his life experience. Since the early 80â€™s Bermudez has used ceramics to explore and communicate natural elemental phenomena and forces as metaphors for human existence. Many of his works have focused on the cycle of life and death, through visual imagery of presence and absence depicted as positive and negative space. Therefore, he uses the medium of ceramics for its innate earthly qualities, which resonates with his own interest in communicating optimism with his art that will serve as a reminder of the importance of the natural, which we tend to overlook.
I come to my work, impelled to give tangible presence to the episodes in my life of peculiar intensity -- the ones that announce their transcendence, and touch the common core of human experience. In the past, my work has focused on large-scale abstract architectonic sculptures and installations. More recently there has been a transformation of scale and I am focused on developing two medium-scale bodies of work. One series of works makes reference to the Caracol, located in Chichen Itza in the Yucatan, Mexico, which is believed to be a Mayan observatory because the openings in the walls are aligned to important astronomical positions. Inspired by this architectural ruin, my geologic abstraction, titled â€œEl Caracolâ€Â, reverses the meaning of an observatory as a place to study celestial events to that of a place for contemplation and introspection. A manipulated sake bottle form placed inside is not only a symbol of celebration and libation, but also the subject of my inner struggle with the dualities of human existence. The other series explores the snake as a cultural symbol of our time. Recently, my sculptures of snakes have become interpretations of historical images of snakes and serpents. I have combined these images of snakes with porcelain bowl forms that are derived from the traditional molcajete, which is a mortar commonly used in Mexico for grinding. In this body of work, I am exploring the fusion of my cultural history with an ethnic symbol of everyday life. Although the snake started out as an interpretation of the past, it now raises questions about the future, about protection, about fear, about serious consequences and about offering. The bowl is in fact a symbol of history, as a utilitarian object, and now poses the question "What is being offered?"