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Justin Novak
American ceramic sculptor.

Canopied Figure #7American ceramist Justin Novak received a BFA in Communications Design (Illustration) from the Pratt Institute, New York in 1983 and an MFA in 1996 from the State University of New York (SUNY), New Paltz, where he taught from 1997-2000. He has been Assistant Professor of Ceramics at the University of Oregon, Eugene since 2000.

He was an invited artist-in-residence at the International Ceramic Center in Skaelskor, Denmark in 2001 and at the Watershed Center, Newcastle, Maine in 2003. He has also been visiting guest artist at several institutions including the Parsons School of Design (2002), The Ohio State University (2003) and the Rhode Island School of Design (2003).

Novak has won several awards and grants, among them an Oregon Arts Commission Visual Arts Fellowship in 2001 and a John Michael Kohler Arts Center residency award in 2004. HIs raku-fired expressive figurative sculpture navigates a fine line the between the tasteful and the grotesque, while subverting the historical genre of the figurine, e.g. with his ‘disfigurine’ series, in which physical wounds such as bruises and lacerations serve as metaphors for injury to self-esteem and other psychological harm.


Artist Statement (excerpt)

"The historical role played by the ceramic figurine has been an embodiment of mainstream, bourgeois ideology, and for this reason, I employ it in the presentation of an alternative vision; an ironic anti-figurine, or 'disfigurine'. This subversion of the genre provokes a reexamination of the promotion of conformism manifested in the traditional figurine, particularly as a behavioral model regarding class and gender".

Disfigurine #1"The fine line that exists between the tasteful and the grotesque is precisely the course that I strive to navigate. It is in the haunting tension between the two that seduction and repulsion inhabit the same space, where 'taste' is perhaps suspended, and the politics of these shiny white aesthetics are laid bare".

"The psychological and the sociological realms are here inextricably interwoven. This body of work represents an inquiry into the power of culturally inherited values, codes of conduct, and identity".

Images and statement © Justin Novak, http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~jnovak/, .

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