Q & A With Shane Gabier

Fantastical Worlds and Utopian Spaces

1. How did you find your way to ceramics? 

I’ve been a collector of ceramics forever. In 2019 I enrolled in a studio course to learn the wheel. I was just starting to feel confident and find my way when the city shut down at the beginning of the pandemic. I didn’t have my own wheel, so I started hand-building at home with sculpture clay. Right away it was clear to me that my training in pattern making (I worked in fashion for years before this) and drafting (studied in school) could be applied to the process, so I felt like I had a bit of a foundation already. I started with a few shapes that had been in my head for some time, and that got the ball rolling. From there it’s evolved and now it’s all just experiments and new explorations.

2. Your work is informed by 70s psychedelia and Brutalist architecture.  What is it about both that interests you?

I have always had a deep love of fantastical worlds and the creation of utopian spaces. I’m a sucker for any sort of immersive environment, so anything that can sort of take me to another place gives me a very deep sense of serenity. 

3. I love the checkerboard pattern you use.  It feels nostalgic but also modern, which in my opinion is the best kind of design.  How did the checkerboard pattern come about?

Well, essentially I feel the same as you do about it! Nostalgic and modern. So many associations with checkerboard; many of the mid century designers and textile artists that I love used checkerboard as a central motif in their work. It also brings to mind Japanese textiles, modernist interiors, pop fashion, Memphis design, and on and on.

4. You’ve talked about listening to music while you’re creating your ceramics, in particular Alice Coltrane.  What is your favorite Alice Coltrane album?

Turiya Sings, hands down.

5. Your most treasured object that you can’t live without?

A vintage steel floor lamp that is shaped like four mushrooms. I found it at a charity shop for $15; I spotted one of the volunteers carrying it to the sales floor and I took it right out of his hands before it even hit the shelf. After doing a bit of research I found that they were a super rare production run from the late 1960s; I’ve only ever known of two others in existence. It’s painted white and the mushrooms light up from underneath the caps; it’s perfect.

6. Favorite place you’ve traveled to?

Mt Yufu in southern Japan. We stayed in an onsen halfway up the mountain in a little group of relocated Victorian era houses that are each built around a natural hot spring. It’s the most gorgeous place I’ve ever been to.

7. What are 3 things that are inspiring you right now?

-Claes Oldenburg plaster sculptures

-Alice Coltrane 

-Robert Smithson’s land art installations as well as his colored pencil sketches