Kosmas Ballis asks himself, “What can I do to really push the medium?” He has been in pursuit of this question since graduate school in Tallahassee at Florida State University, where he received his MFA in 1999. He restated and reframed the question, with the benefit of hindsight from almost two decades of research, during a December 2016 interview he gave while in residence at the Shangyu Celadon Modern International Ceramic Art Center. “For me it’s all about the medium and I want to be someone who contributes to the medium,” he says.

In 2001, Ballis was celebrated as an NCECA Emerging Artist. He went on to create powerful sculptures in response to the BP Oil/ Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. The oil spill began on April 20, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico and is considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. This work was a deconstruction of his “Evolutionary Bouquet” series.

A former student of Ken Ferguson’s, the foundation of Ballis’ work has always been grounded in formal traditions, regardless of the inspirational content. He has developed a unique way of working with porcelain slip to build his intricate, abstract sculptures, celebrating the delicacy of the material, as well as its ability to showcase a spectrum of saturations and hues. He is driven to explore and exploit the challenges of building vertical clay structures and enjoys all of the effort that goes into making a successful three-dimensional experience, both visually and structurally.

His efforts caught our jurors’ attention last spring and his road to Northern Clay Center to be the fall McKnight Resident Artist this October has been a busy one. For the past year, he has been working at the Jingdezhen International Studio and the Shangyu International Celadon Museum, both in China.

Join us on Tuesday, October 10 at 6 pm for a free lecture on his work in NCC’s Library. Learn about his international exploits and how a simple idea, such as stacking, leads to more formal compositions, eventually evolving into something you might not see coming.

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