P is for Perfectly Imperfect Plates
I'm Yaara Oren. I am an artist working with painting, ceramics, and photography. I was born in Israel, living in Tel Aviv for the past 10 years. I'm a graduate of the 'Bet Berl Academy of Art'
How did you start out as a ceramicist?
I wouldn’t define myself as a ceramicist, but rather as an artist that also handles ceramics. Ceramics has been added to my toolkit in the past two years. I’ve been wanting to work with clay for quite some time but was concerned about its old-fashioned stereotypes.
Slowly these plates became a part of my houseware, my art and of my everyday life. I began seeing an interesting relationship between my plates and my paintings. I ‘d like to keep exploring and sharing what I see as the connection between the practical use of things and the practice of art.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I am a very visual person and I feel that the aesthetics of my environment deeply impacts me. My neighborhood in south Tel Aviv, the commute to my studio, and the Israeli urban environment, with its crumbling buildings and construction improvisations, have all become motifs in the collages of my work. Additionally, the local light and the contrast effect that it creates influences my work, creating duplicate images and strong color scheme.
So why plates?
I like the format of the plates because being relatively flat is the closest to the canvas. This allows me a broad reference to color. At the same time, I like the fact that this is a useful object that can take part in everyday life.
Sometimes I think of the plates as a series with repeated characteristics or colors and sometimes I create each plate separately with a unique reference. All stages of the work are done manually so each plate comes out a little differently. To me, this is part of their beauty and uniqueness. I like the fact they aren’t perfect and you can feel they are handmade- even in the final product.
Hung on the wall or set on the table?
I like the possibility of playing with the plates – you can think of them as a “body of work” or as a series hanging on the wall. A set of plates allows for a “wide story” created from the contexts between the different plates. Another way is to choose to focus on one dish that you especially like and give it its place on the wall. They can also be used as daily dining or entertaining dishes. As far as I am concerned, anyone can find the appropriate method of use.
Is there an advantage in being a painter to the way you approach the plates?
As a painter, I try to translate certain actions and qualities that belong to painting and apply them on clay. This brings me to all kinds of inventions and experiences that sometimes result in creative and interesting surprises. Also, I think that I am used to thinking about each painting as a unique work, that vision helps me give each plate its own attention.
What is the most difficult part of the work process?
Which artistic styles interest you?
Recently, I’ve been attracted to a much wilder, raw, and expressive style than I create. I would love to be able to create that type of art but it probably isn’t me.
What are you working on these days?
I am currently working on a number of projects in quite different directions. One of them is designing a large mural together with a colleague. We are currently in the planning and sketch stages.
Why did you name your dog Zloty?
I received Zloty with that name when she was 8 months old. She had different homes and several other names before so I didn’t feel it was right to change her name again, especially since I think it suits her. ‘Zloty’ is actually the Polish currency and also means ‘Goldy’ in Russian. I think she has a heart of gold, so Goldy in the Russian / Polish version suits her. Besides, ‘Zloty’ sounds like a small and pretty thing that is delicate. She’s been with me for seven years and we’ve been through a lot together. Zloty is very smart- I never shout at her or do all sorts of tricks of training to get her to do things, I simply explain things to her and she listens. She doesn’t like being alone, so I try to take her wherever I can- she’s almost always with me in the studio.
What is your favorite object in the studio?
Old wooden playing blocks that used to be at my grandmother’s house. These playing cubes have sentimental value- they are 50-year-old cubes that belonged to all my family members. Everyone had a moment in their childhood when they played with them, including my father and brothers. There are all sorts of drawings on the dice that were made by us when we were kids- I also recognize my own scribbles on them.
Shortly before my grandmother died, she asked me to take them. I think she knew I wouldn’t be able to throw them away and they would be kept by me. They’re now in the studio and I use them to hold papers.