Encounters with light falling across a room at a specific time of day and relationships between seemingly unrelated objects captivate me. This fascination is manifested as a surreal sense of déjà vu. An object, or the light, creates a connection to the past. I find myself unintentionally using this cue to reconstruct some other place; the picture in my mind is vivid and momentary. These temporal visualizations coincide at the blurred nexus of personal myth; an intersection of autobiography, family history and literature.
The development of my studio work begins with lists that draw from these momentary occurrences. The lists form as a stream of consciousness with common objects - a houseplant, a book, a common chair – and act as a way of drawing with words, creating imagery through text. The objects compiled on the lists are part of a larger collective memory drawn from personal narrative. The objects are signifiers of a time and a place at once familiar but radically different for each person. As the objects are removed from their original contexts and juxtaposed with others, they begin to form sculptural vignettes that suggest new stories.
I chose clay as my primary material to construct these sculptures because it can be transformed physically, chemically and metaphorically at every stage of the process. Tool marks and incidental contact with the clay remain evident, retaining a bluntness of touch. Glaze and color act as devices to both mimic and obscure reality. My intention in working with these processes and with this sense of touch is to create an illusion – a perception that what is initially seen is real. Closer investigation reveals the material presence, erasing the illusion. A correlation can be seen between the act of recollection and the transformations of the material as it distances itself from a malleable body to a permanent structure.
Dennis Ritter is a sculptor working primarily in the ceramic medium. He currently resides in Baton Rouge, LA and is the Ceramic Teaching Resident at Louisiana State University. Prior to this position he was the Artist in Residence at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, PA, where he was also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Ceramics. Dennis received his MFA from the NYSCC at Alfred University in 2015. Prior to attending graduate school he worked as a teaching artist for The Claymobile Outreach Program in Philadelphia and was the Studio and Facilities Manager for The Clay Studio In Philadelphia. He received his BFA in Ceramics from the Tyler School of Art in 2012, where he received the Rudy Staffal Award for Excellence in Ceramics. Dennis has also been a resident at Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts and The Vermont Studio Center and was awarded a Windgate Fellowship in Craft in conjunction with The Vermont Studio Center residency program.