Elise Nadeau


In my major year we were assigned a project to work in the Chinese Yi Xing tradition and replicate some teapots out of found objects. I fell in love with the beautiful little Yi Xing pots immediately. I did find several items to use, but it wasn’t until my trip to the local antique market and filled a bag up with scrap metal… (for fifty cents a pound!), that I found myself truly motivated and dedicated to the project.

Though I am influenced heavily by modern artists working in the Yi Xing style like Richard Notkin and Ah Leon, I have to say that my true inspiration stems from the Steam punk genre and video games, such as Fallout 3, the Myst series and Final Fantasy with its “Machina” and airship components. Many of these games take place in post-nuclear, dystopian societies, where he inhabitants have to be creative to make do with the minimal materials that would have survived. These are normally in the form of scrap metals, broken glass and wire. It is from this world of “Geekdom” that much of my work this year was spawned.

In order to pull of “Trompe-l’oeil”, (keeping it as realistic as possible) I had to cast many, many objects in plaster… in fact, I just started casting almost anything I could find. At one point I could not look at something with out thinking about how I could make it into a mold, I became obsessed. Oddly enough I really enjoy the long and tedious of mold making. I think it is because mold making relies heavily on problem solving and I like the challenge this presents. It is very satisfying to me to come up with a solution, and then to see an exact replica of something I cast come out of a mold.

I like to manipulate these cast objects and force them to conform to my will, it gives me a sense of control. I infuse rhythm and purpose into every aspect of the piece. Special consideration for the function of every detail no matter how minute, is very important to me. Arming myself with not much more than a dull putty knife and hand extruder I undertake the process of slip- welding and assembling the pieces into their new forms. I remove them from their usual context and assign them a new identity… though they often start out defiantly “I am a sardine can … not a teapot”, I am able to eventually wrestle them, albeit begrudgingly into submission, “ you ARE a teapot… and now you are blue, I am bigger than you and I win”!

I like using the bare, colored clay in my work as it is so detailed, it would not make sense to hide it under a coat of glaze. I also like the matte and non-glossy surface, which also adds an emphasis on the form and details rather than a coating. The different colors also help to define the individual sets, and makes them more interesting as separate entities. It is also makes it fun to mix and match.

I like the constant sense of discovery that one is introduced to while examining my work and stumbling upon these little details. I really get a kick out of making beautiful pieces, even objects of desire out of what is ordinarily considered scraps and refuse. With such a heavy emphasis on the destruction of environment as we do have today, it is not too ridiculous to imagine having to make do with scrap metals and these kind of materials somewhere in the near future, and now I am one step ahead!

Elise Nadeau can be reached at elise@edgevillage.com