Devitrified - Colby Charpentier, 2018-19 Artist In Residence

  • twin arches made of blue and white dots with red coated wire attachments
  • vessel made of blue, yellow, and white dots with red coated wire handle and neck attachments

Colby Charpentier, 2018-19 Artist in Residence 

Exhibition Dates: September 5 - 27, 2019
Lecture: Saturday, September 7, 4-5 pm
Reception: Saturday, September 7, 5-7pm (
view photos from this event)

Gallery 224 at the Ceramics Program, Office for the Arts at Harvard
224 Western Ave, Allston, MA 02134

This show is built from a fascination with glazes and ceramic materials. During my residency at the Ceramics Program - Office for the Arts at Harvard, I’ve been researching and testing materials and procedures to take a fresh look at how we approach contemporary clay.

The process that I developed for this work has me hand-printing vessels and balloons the time to produce a single vase out to 40-plus hours. In that time-frame, I make thousands of decisions about where the profile is heading. Each drop is a waypoint in the design of the object. There is no inside surface vs. outside surface, there is only the object and the space it contains. It’s a really beautiful process. It’s layered with the irony of an American studio artist hand-replicating a 3-d printing process; making work representative of blue and white ware. There’s a lot of good questions in there.Colby Charpentier

Knowing that the material itself is a glass that was formulated to devitrify and be ceramic when fired— is important to understanding this work as a veil of glaze. This process is driven by the research questions: What if we took clay out of the vessel and glaze was all that remained? And what does it mean to replicate a 3-D printing process by hand? The result is ceramic: glass, devitrified.

Artist Bio

Colby Charpentier (b.1991) is an artist working primarily in ceramics. His work addresses materiality and relationships between architecture and the vessel.
Colby received his BFA in Ceramics and Glass from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 2013. He has worked as a studio assistant to artists Daniel Clayman and Chris Gustin; and completed residencies at Sonoma Ceramics in Sonoma, CA, and at The Morean Center for Clay in St. Petersburg, FL. Colby is currently an Artist in Residence at The Ceramics Program, Office for the Arts at Harvard University. He teaches at Harvard Ceramics and Massachusetts College of Art and Design. 

Artist Statement

My studio research is centered around intentionally misunderstanding ceramic materials and processes. I ask clay to do the things that we think it shouldn’t— in hopes of finding new possibilities. 

I work with clay because it is accessible, abundant, and present in everyday life. It’s a material that we contact daily through tableware, sparkplugs, microchips, architecture— it’s part of nearly every culture’s creation story. We all know somethingabout clay. That baseline of experience is an opportunity for me to put clay in ironic and compromising situations. I’m intrigued by the coincidences and ironies between clay, the vessel, architecture, and other “known quantities.” The history of clay and different cultures is strongly inter-woven. I’m happy apply that historical precedent to explore contemporary systems of ownership. 

I see making as a method of asking and refining questions. The objects that I produce are a residue of this process.

Devitrified - Colby Charpentier, 2018-19 Artist In Residence Exhibition

Read Cate McQuaid's review of this exhibition in the Boston Globe!