An Architect-Turned-Potter Builds Ceramics Inspired by Tadao Ando and Le Corbusier

Los Angeles-based potter Adam Silverman is an artist who seems most comfortable in a state of constant exploration, devouring influences and inspirations, mastering techniques and traditions as he goes. The result is a body of work—and a career—that is at once wide-ranging and focused. The ceramic vessels presented by Edward Cella Art + Architecture at Design Miami/ 2014—Silverman’s debut at the fair—pinpoint moments of experimentation in his practice, but they are confident, deft, and deliberately executed experiments.

Silverman may be one of America’s most accomplished potters, but his route to his craft was anything but direct. Before devoting himself full-time to ceramics, he studied architecture, briefly practicing in Los Angeles before co-founding the popular streetwear label X-Large. As distant as these experiences seem from one another, and from pottery, both influence Silverman’s current work and all draw from a common pool of sensibilities and references. The DIY spirit that drove the creative production of the West Coast alternative scenes and informed X-Large’s aesthetic is present in Silverman’s hands-on, intuitive approach to making ceramics. The impact of the urban landscape is also clear in his work, in the gritty texture of ASMI10 (2014), its surface like corroded metal, or in the kaleidoscopic, gasoline-slick glaze of ASMI2 (2014).

As for architecture, Silverman sees the process of making pottery as similar, but more immediate and visceral. He explains, “I found [architecture] very much like ceramics because you’re involved in a process of making, except that there’s a bigger intellectual component.” Among his principal architectural influences are Tadao Ando (whose drawings appear in Edward Cella’s booth alongside Silverman’s vessels), Louis Kahn and Le Corbusier, architects whose reinforced concrete buildings can be formal and conceptual cousins to clay sculpture and ceramics. Silverman cites Le Corbusier’s chapel in Ronchamp, France, as a touchstone for his work, and several of his pieces for Design Miami/, including the stunning ASMI7 (2014), evoke the character of Le Corbusier’s chapel, their thick, rough clay shells punctured by irregular openings like the windows of the chapel, which admit precise patches of light into the interior. “[Ronchamp is] one of the best examples of how an amazingly beautiful interior space can be made in a building that is an object in itself,” Silverman remarks. “It’s really about making the inside and the outside simultaneously, just like a pot is made.” 

—Jenny Florence

Visit Edward Cella Art and Architecture at Design Miami/ 2014, Booth G/33, Dec. 3–7, 2014.

Explore Edward Cella Art and Architecture and Design Miami/ 2014 on Artsy. 

Portraits of Adam Silverman courtesy Edward Cella Art and Architecture. 

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