Participating in a remote screenprinting residency with FWM during the Covid-19 pandemic, Oakland-based artist Woody De Othello was invited to design and print new yardage for the group exhibition, Hard/Cover. The artist used this collaboration as an opportunity to reflect on the past year, creating a hopeful pattern as a backdrop for a domestic scene.
Foliage, watches, and lightbulbs found in the artist’s yardage allude to the idea that, with time, comes growth and change. Invited to create similar motifs in his ceramic practice, De Othello designed vessels that surreally mimic housewares and wringing hands in various states of contemplation—as though the objects themselves are grappling with the current state of the world.
Best known for his anthropomorphized sculptures of household objects, De Othello is celebrated for making vessels that emulate varying states of the human psyche. By approaching his practice as a means of catharsis, the artist imbues his sculptures with complex emotions and draws from the African belief system nkisi, referencing spirit-instilled objects empowered by medicines.
As an artist who uses domestic spaces to hold larger conversations, De Othello continues to expand the limits of contemporary ceramics. Moving to the Bay Area in 2015 to obtain his masters from California College of the Arts, the artist’s expansive vision follows a long lineage of artists who established ceramics as a fine art in the 1960s and ‘70s. He recounts, “the first time I touched clay I knew everything I needed to know about my past and I knew everything I needed to know about my future.”