Well-known in New York’s interior design circles for his consummate craftsmanship in working with textiles, Monte Coleman has followed a personal passion for the ceramic arts:
‘The pieces came about after having visited the Rodin Museum with a friend. I was so taken with the terra cotta pieces that when I got back home I bought terra cotta clay. That friend came to visit and asked what I had made. I had only made flower pots. She said "Get in here; we are going to make skulls. They are easy". These are the results.’
Despite the seemingly macabre subject matter, Coleman’s skulls and bones possess a whimsical quality that is inviting, rather than threatening. Neither in scale or form are they accurate representations of human, animal or ornithological anatomies, but are suggestive of structures.
Many of the skeletal shapes are nestled within or resting upon exquisitely turned bowls and vases. Glazes alternate between delicate shades in neutral tonalities and solid, semi-matte blues, greens, oranges, blacks. Each work is unique, with some pieces demonstrating a complex intricacy and others simplified, monolithic in shape. Coleman may joke that ‘skulls are easy’, but the works presented here are masterpieces in miniature.
Born in Lebanon, Missouri, Coleman studied art and architecture at the University of Missouri. After working in California, he moved to New York in 1980 where he currently resides.