The ceramic work of New Orleans artist MaPó Kinnord is firmly rooted in the act of improvisation and explores space and form – both internally and externally – literally and symbolically. Through technical mastery and irreverent experimentation, Kinnord’s work in clay expands the traditional boundaries of the medium. Her studio practice pushes the potential of clay, as well as her own imagination, testing the limits of clay’s malleability and strength with her large-scale sculptures. By incorporating assemblage, collage, light, drawing and painting into her practice, she challenges the very definition of ceramic art.
Outside In, Improvisations of Space brings together works from throughout Kinnord’s career to illustrate her practice in clay. Allowing herself to be led by the material, she finds her greatest joy in the physical act of creation “I work with clay because I love the physical interaction with the material,” she explains. “My current work embodies the technical challenges and creative dynamic of improvisation.” Her organic clay improvisations can be considered three-dimensional drawings in space, and the resulting forms represent the physical evidence of that act of creation.
Through the building of architectural forms, Kinnord creates empty spaces within her sculptures. Dark internal spaces become a platform for further improvisation and creation, a place where she builds internal worlds through collage, painting, drawing, assemblage and light. It is through bringing light to the darkness of inner-space that Kinnord deepens the narrative elements of her work, creating intimate landscapes to comment on history, culture, identity, spirituality and social issues.
MaPó Kinnord grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. She received her first training in ceramics through Cleveland’s Quaker-founded alternative high school, the School on Magnolia. She apprenticed with several production potters before receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Massachusetts College of Art in 1984. She received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Ohio State University in 1994. Arriving in New Orleans in 1995, she now serves as an Associate Professor of Art at Xavier University. A well-respected educator, Kinnord has taught workshops in Matsue, Japan, as well as the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine and the Penland School of Craft in North Carolina. Her Contemplative Clay Project explores clay-working as a meditative practice. A lifelong scholar, she has researched the traditional and contemporary art of Ghana extensively, and has produced video documentation of the traditional pottery, kiln building and ceramic architecture of West Africa.
Vivian & Richard Cahn
Ariel & Kasimu Harris
Stuart B. Hurt
Cleophus Thomas, Jr.