Artist Interview: Calvin Ma

ME: What was your inspiration for this show and how did you come up with the idea?

CM: Toys were a big part of my formative years in helping me cope with my inability to socialize, but movies, cartoons and video games definitely had a helping hand as well. For this show, I selfishly wanted to sculpt some of my favorite pop culture themed vehicles, but also thought it would be an interesting way to view my own struggles with social anxiety through the context of those nostalgic images.


ME: What is the significance of the wood-like house figures in your work? Is there any underlying symbolism there?

CM: The house theme comes from me being such a homebody, so when I do step out and try to be social I feel like I take a lot of those protective walls with me, kind of a mask or skin that I put on. My figures are somewhat of a literal interpretation of that.

ME: What are some of the challenges of using ceramic in your work? Advantages?

CM: Ceramic is an amazing material to use once you get the hang of it. When I first started messing around with clay, dealing with cracks in the work was a challenge. During the firing process, the kiln takes the clay to extremely high temperatures and the clay tends to warp and cracks sprout up in random places, but you learn how to avoid them as you go through the process of working with this material. You also become an expert on how to patch cracks. I really enjoy working with clay because it’s really malleable when wet and easy to carve and dial in the intricate details as it dries and hardens. 

ME: What artists inspire you?

CM: Margaret Keelan, Cristina Cordova, Keith Schneider, Kelly Garrett Rathbone, Beth Cavener Stitchter and Shigeki Hayashi are a handful of my favorite ceramic artists. The work they have all done always inspire and humble me.

ME: What’s your daily life like? What are some things you do when you’re not sculpting / making art?

CM: It's kind of embarrassing, but I'm always in the studio. I get up, have breakfast and head straight to the studio to work, but I definitely don't see it as work, but something I look forward to. Always striving to make cleaner and more creative artwork. When I'm not in the studio or being a homebody, I like a lazy day of doing absolutely nothing with my lady, going to the movies, watching a Warriors game and occasionally grabbing one too many drinks with some old high school buddies. Oh, and thinking about the next art project.



Homebodies: Recollective opens November 15 at Modern Eden Gallery.

More info about the exhibition can be found HERE.

Kim Larson
Kim Larson