Art History: Shannon Sullivan





A few years ago I was walking around downtown Milwaukee checking out some galleries when I came across some of the most beautiful ceramics I have seen in a really long time. I love ceramic art. The medium is so versatile. When done well it has a life and presence that painting or other mediums cannot achieve. I was captivated by the artist’s work. I glanced at the placard to see the piece’s title and saw the artist’s name, Shannon Sullivan. Wait… I went to college with a Shannon who was a ceramicist. I even have one of her pieces in my office. I went home and did a little Googling to find out that it was indeed the same Shannon Sullivan. She was a great ceramicist in college but her work now is truely spectacular.



Her work really captures the strength of ceramics. Her shapes are captivating and interesting, especially the way she uses the environment. Some are installations rather than sculpture. Beyond the form her surfaces and glazes give the clay life. She has a masterful understanding of clay and glaze.



She has a piece that welcomes audience interaction, which is something that really appeals to me personally. One of the things that initially drew me to ceramics is how it is often used to make a functional object. Often an object that can be used in everyday life like a tea bowl. It deflates the idea that art is an unattainable thing and makes it playful and inclusive. Her magnetic sculptures add another dimension to her art. Not just 2D or 3D but it changes with time and adds the tactile element that the beauty of her glaze just begs to be touched.


Shannon Sullivan, Interactive Bubble Array (Range of Blue), 2016 from Shannon Sullivan on Vimeo.