Week 12 Artist Conversation – Nicholas Dison

Artist: Nicholas Dison

Exhibition: Synergizing Fields

Media: Ceramics

Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West

Instagram: @dison_ceramics

Twitter: @dison_ceramics

About the Artist

This week, I got the chance to chat a little bit with Nicholas Dison, a senior at Cal State, Long Beach who is currently pursuing his BFA in Ceramics and also wishes to pursue an MFA in Fall 2017 upon graduating this spring. Nicholas currently lives in Long Beach but is originally from Los Osos, California. He is working as an Instructional Student Assistant in the Ceramics department at CSULB. Nicholas has been interested in ceramics since high school, so he decided to take a ceramics class every semester while he was in college. His exhibition, Synergizing Fields, is inspired by the Baroque and Victorian eras of the 1700-1800s.

Formal Analysis

The pieces in Dison’s Synergizing Fields exhibition can be seen as sculptural, figurative, conceptual, or functional. He uses clay as a medium to create objects that have a particular function or decorative purpose. Dison incorporated objects in this exhibition that can be found in someone’s home, such as candle holders, picture frames, vases, etc. Dison mentioned that each piece of ceramics was made out of pieces from swap meets, yard sales and garage sales. He embellished these pieces with floral patterns and filigree, which is ornamental work of fine (typically gold or silver) wire formed into delicate tracery. Some of these objects were placed within the framework of his paintings, and they appear to be “melting” into color fields behind them.

Dison applied gold luster highlighting on certain objects and placed them on the paintings. He described the exciting process of glazing his pieces. A ceramic glaze is an impervious layer or coating of a vitreous substance which has been fused to a ceramic body through firing. Glaze can serve to color, decorate or waterproof an item.

Content Analysis

As mentioned before, Dison’s exhibition is heavily inspired by the Baroque and Victorian Era, hence the heavy use of red and gold. The purpose of the gold was to highlight the detailing of each piece and portray its high status. Dison’s mission was to create objects that form a conversation about art. He would be posing questions about something deeper than the objects that he is displaying; he was questioning traditional ideas of how art is defined in relation to how it is made, while creating a dialogue with “Color Field” painting. Color Field painting is a style of American abstract painting prominent from the late 1940s to the 1960s that features large expanses of unmodulated color covering the greater part of the canvas. Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko were considered its chief exponents.

Synthesis / My Experience

Dison’s Synergizing Fields exhibition was fantastic. I felt like I was looking at old antiques when I walked into the gallery, and it was weird to think that somebody made these pieces recently. These looked like classics! What I enjoyed the most was the idea that Dison had purchased certain pieces from yard sales, garage sales and swap meets and refashioned them to put into his exhibition. The reason I liked that was because it shows that you can make something beautiful and precious out of discarded pieces that were seemingly useless to the person that threw them away.


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