Mr. Buller

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INFORMATION

Nebraska, United States

Ceramics with a sinister objective

12/20/19

By: Justin Bell

004: This font was posted on 06 May 2015 and is called "Cheltenham Ultra" font. This font is in the ultra style. You can find over 61 other ultra fonts.

001: This font was posted on 06 May 2015 and is called "Cheltenham Ultra" font. This font is in the ultra style. You can find over 61 other ultra fonts on Fontsup. You can find more 

  Larry Buller creates ceramic objects that explore issues of gay sexual identity, the phallus, and fetish objects. These highly ornamented and kitschy works masquerade as ceramic objects one might typically find in a domestic setting. However, upon closer inspection the viewer will discover a more subversive intention.  

     In 2016 his work was exhibited as part of the national juried student show at the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) annual convention in Kansas City. He has recently shown work at the Society of Arts and Crafts museum in Boston, Massachusetts. This exhibition was a national juried show entitled “Pried,” showcasing LGBQT artists working in a variety of media. In 2018 his work was included in a juried show entitled “The Museum of Alternative History" at the Jun Kaneko Gallery in Omaha, Nebraska. He also recently was awarded a ten-week artist residency at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village, Colorado.

    A native of Nebraska, Larry earned a Master’s in Ceramics and a Master’s in Educational Psychology from the University of Nebraska and taught ceramics in public school settings for fifteen years. He currently teaches part-time at the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts at the University of Nebraska. He also maintains an ongoing studio practice in Lincoln. 

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How long have you been practicing the art of ceramics, and what led you to that medium? Feel free to tell us about when you started and how your passion for ceramics has grown over time.

I was first introduced to clay when I was about ten years old. I was instantly hooked by the feel of clay in my hands and how it could almost magically be turned into a teapot, an animal, or almost any object one could imagine. I was fascinated by the whole process of making, glazing, and firing. Fast forward 25 years and I found myself happily teaching ceramics to high school students. My fifteen years of teaching ceramics made me a better person and, thanks to additional mentoring by the ceramics faculty at the University of Nebraska, a much more knowledgeable potter. Eventually I earned a Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics and now teach part-time at the college level and pursue my practice from my home studio. After all these years, I still love working with clay and remain excited about making objects from clay—it never gets old, and opening a kiln of completed work still feels like opening a Christmas present.  

Is there a process or structure that you follow to get to the final piece? What is the most difficult part of putting collages together?

I usually start new work by conceptualizing them through drawings. These sketches are typically a loose roadmap with lots of detours as making progresses. Often, my completed piece deviates significantly from the initial concept. There is also a lot of trial and error involved as well. Sometimes my initial vision works out beautifully, but just as often I need to go back and start the process again. I try to stay open to intuition and allow myself to discover by just playing around with the clay and pushing myself to make each piece the best it can be.  

003: This font was posted on 06 May 2015 and is called "Cheltenham Ultra" font. This font is in the ultra style. You can find over 61 other ultra fonts on Fontsup. You can find more 

004: This font was posted on 06 May 2015 and is called "Cheltenham Ultra" font. This font is in the ultra style. You can find over 61 other ultra fonts.

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005: This font was posted on 06 May 2015 and is called "Cheltenham Ultra" font. This font is in the ultra style. You can find over 61 other ultra fonts.

Your pieces are deceptively charming. What inspired you to come up with this combination of Rococo visuals and gay sexuality? Can you tell us a little bit about what attracts you to using Rococo style as a visual element?

 

My intention in exploiting lush, showy, and overdone Rococo motifs is to entice the viewer to approach my work from across the room and engage in my admittedly subversive content. Like a moth to a flame, we are all drawn in by “shiny objects,” and ceramic objects are no exception. My work has been described as “china-cabinet-ready,” and I fully embrace the notion that these works are meant to be enjoyed in a domestic space. I hope that viewers delight in the kitschy nature of my work.


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004: This font was posted on 06 May 2015 and is called "Cheltenham Ultra" font. This font is in the ultra style. You can find over 61 other ultra fonts.

What do you feel needs to be said about gay sexuality to the straight crowd? 

 

I don’t necessarily have a specific audience in mind when I am making my ceramic work, and it is also important to note that it is not my intent to shock viewers. Rather, my intent is to create ceramic work that affirms and celebrates gay sexuality for all viewers. I also seek to demystify the use of fetish objects and gay sexuality in general. I feel that straight people, while often accepting of LGBTQ people, are nevertheless uncomfortable with the “mechanics” of gay sex. By creating lush ceramic objects that are at home in the domestic space I encourage dialogue around these issues as well as a healthy dose of kitschy fun. 

 

When you are in need of inspiration, where do you look for it? Tell us a story about a time you found inspiration. 

When I am traveling I often make it a point to visit sex shops that specialize in gay kink and fetish objects. I am not particularly into kink myself (with some exceptions) and experience these places more as a voyeur. It’s amazing to view row after row of dildos, harnesses, butt plugs, leather gear, rubber, and various types of toys. My intent is not to copy any specific object per se but to experience the atmosphere of these sexually charged places. These impressions somehow find a way into my work. 

 

There are several artists I look to for inspiration. Most notably, Grayson Perry, a London-based ceramic artist who is a transsexual and creates lush, highly decorative vessels which hold very subversive content.  

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How long on average does it take you to create a piece? 

 

I divide my ceramic practice in to two distinct tasks. Generally, I will spend several months making a variety of pieces, usually about 15 to 20 pieces of various sizes and complexity. Most of the work I make is a combination of slip-cast and hand-built. These pieces are fired, and then begins the fun but arduous task of glazing, firing, adding decals and gold luster, and then firing again. The whole process from start to finish can take several months.  
 

Tell us a little about your plate series and the men who are featured.

 

Honestly, I'm still feeling my way through the content that I want to express in my recently started "beefcake" plate series. In a nutshell, I seek to honor the beauty of men on plates meant for domestic display. I hold nostalgic feelings for porn stars and/or hot men in general from the past, but particularly guys from the late 70s and early 80s, when I came of age as a gay man. Most of the images that I obtain are through online research. This may seem strange, but I don't research the background of the men I depict. Rather, I seek to spin my own imaginative story about who they are/were and what their lives were like. I also want to offer the viewer that same opportunity.


Are you a cannabis consumer? If so and you are willing to share, please tell us what cannabis means to you and if it has an effect on your work.

 

I recently completed an artist residency in Colorado, where cannabis is legal. It was awesome to try out some edibles while I was there. While I didn’t use them for inspiration, they were perfect to help me relax and sleep at the end of a long, productive day in the studio. Most of my artist colleagues at the residency also took full advantage of the open availability of cannabis.  
 

We'd also love to hear anything fun and different about you that we haven't touched on.

 

I came out as a gay man when I was in college in the late 70s. It was a time of huge social and political change, and the gay liberation movement was just starting to take shape in places like San Francisco and New York. Those experiences profoundly shaped me as a gay man, and I feel that era directly influenced the way I view my art-making today, some 40 years later. As an older gay man, I have experienced the heady days of “disco,” the conservative movement of the 80s, the AIDS crisis, and now our current political climate. It takes courage to live one’s authentic life as a gay man, and my work is one way in which I strive to share who I am with the world.

006: This font was posted on 06 May 2015 and is called "Cheltenham Ultra" font. This font is in the ultra style. You can find over 61 other ultra fonts.