Ceramic Mugs That Replicate Used Cardboard By Tim Kowalczyk

Ceramic artist Tim Kowalczyk is drawn to objects of little material value like crushed tin cans and ripped up cardboard. He finds beauty in these typical throw-aways, an attraction to the history embedded in their wrinkles and folds. To memorialize these items Kowalczyk creates their likeness in clay, creating works that look exactly like mugs haphazardly formed from cardboard with ‘Please Handle With Care’ stickers still stuck to their sides.

Ceramic mugs that replicate used cardboard by Tim Kowalczyk

In his own words:

Objects I am drawn to can be described as pathetic, absurd, antiquated, banal, or even garbage. I stumble upon these ordinary objects in my daily life whether driving down the road, visiting a yard sale, or peering into a trashcan. Objects are chosen that lack unique significance. However, I imagine a sublime provenance in these ordinary objects. This imagined provenance is how I begin to relate to the objects and transform ordinary objects into extraordinary.

These new extraordinary objects are models to create trompe l’oeil ceramic versions. I then assemble the fabricated replicas into sculptures with a clear sense of purpose, priority, and preciousness. These everyday objects are imbued with specific signification through both their composed relationships with one another, and their homogeneous material. The deception of fabricated objects through the use of trompe l’oeil techniques is what allows me to convey the imagined sublime provenance. The objects’ inherent semiotic qualities create contextual narratives that shape how they are seen and how they can construct meaning in a particular setting.

Ceramic mugs that replicate used cardboard by Tim Kowalczyk

Artist Statement

Pathetic, absurd, antiquated, banal or even garbage are words that best describe the objects I am drawn to. These types of objects hold my attention because of the stories they can tell and what they can mean. Many times I find objects at thrift stores, yard sales or the side of the road. I am collector, sculptor and poet, but I do not do this in any conventional manner.

When I find an object I must first turn it into a trompe l’oeil ceramic object. Ceramic’s ability to replicate any form, texture or surface is what draws me to the material. Replicating real objects out of ceramic material and putting them in a tableau is my version of writing a poem. I am able to sculpt, form, design and construct sculptures with sense of purpose, priority, and preciousness.

Ceramic mugs that replicate used cardboard by Tim Kowalczyk


Tim lives and works out of his home in Minonk, a small town in Central Illinois, since graduating with his MFA from Illinois State University in 2011. For the past 6 years Tim has been in a steady stream of juried group, invitational, and solo exhibitions.

Tim has received several awards including the Presidential Scholarship at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Merwin Medal: McLean County 82nd Annual Amateur Show, and Best of Show: Water Street Studios Anniversary Show.

Tim’s work can be seen in private collections, University collections, and in a recent American Craft Magazine article.

Tim is the adjunct instructor Ceramics at Illinois Central in East Peoria, IL. He is represented by Companion Gallery Humboldt, TN, Eutectic Gallery Portland, OR , Michele Tuegel Contemporary Gallery St Petersburg, FL, Jan Brandt Gallery Bloomington, IL and several other galleries throughout the United States.

Ceramic mugs that replicate used cardboard by Tim Kowalczyk

Links: Timkowalczyk.blogspot.fr – Companiongallery.com – Thisiscolossal.com

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