Thomas Harris gets inspiration for ceramics from a unique source: Scientific research.
“My work is often about evolution, errors in evolution,” says Thomas, who creates by throwing on a wheel, slip casting and handbuilding. “The University in Bloomington, its research, my work there, have greatly influenced my subject matter.”
Invasive species, such as piranhas and Armadillos in Indiana, trilobites and Axolotls (the larval stage of a salamander) decorate his functional and decorative pieces. The evolution of species interests him as much as the way his work evolves.
“I am interested in surface decoration and its interplay with the form, and it figures prominently in my work,” the Monroe County artist says. “I am interested in how the decoration can serve as purely a design element in functional work, and can assist in expressing meaning in sculpture.”
Thomas has been creating ceramics for 10 years. He studied the art form in college, and then moved on to performance art and dance. About five years ago, he returned to ceramics, his preferred art form.
His pieces “reflect my taste, my aesthetic, my thought processes, my sense of shape and style which is constantly evolving,” he says.”
His favorite pieces are ones that make people stop, point and smile — the same mindset he used for developing his business name and logo, Clayoh Ceramics.
ClayOh is a whimsical modification of the “Banana Boat Song,” also known as “Day-Oh,” the song that Harry Belafonte made popular. (Remember it in the movie “Beetlejuice,” where the song seems to take control of the dinner guests and make them dance?)
“My daughter drew the logo I use (a chicken on a unicycle) when she was in the seventh grade,” says Thomas, whose family raises Sicilian Buttercup chickens. “Hopefully the name and logo reflect my approach to ceramics.”
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