I began my journey in clay making handbuilt vessels which were more sculptural than functional. I soon ditched function completely, and moved on to a series of surrealist landscapes built into serving dishes. These gave way to large wall and floor pieces based on organic forms, a theme I worked on for about a decade after graduate school.
Over the years, I purchased and was given many wonderful pieces of pottery, mostly made by potter friends. Using and handling these pieces, I slowly became aware of how much they enriched my daily life. In 2009, I finally tried throwing pots on the wheel myself. What had seemed intolerably boring and frustrating to my younger self, was now soothing and focusing. I enjoyed the new challenges posed by mastering the potter’s wheel and creating ware meant for daily use.
At this time, I also changed my temperature range from low fire (cone 04) to midrange (cone six) and began exploring/creating a completely new color palette. These major changes made ceramics feel fresh and new again, recharging my studio practice. In 2012, Clara Lanyi Ceramics became my full time job.
I get many questions about the vintage ceramic decals that decorate my pots and jewelry. Please see my "process" page to find out more.
I’m investigating the intersection of wonder, awkwardness, and beauty in the border zone where what is known drifts into mystery and must be imagined. Vintage representations of flora and fauna flow across surfaces, utilizing nostalgic kitsch "found" graphics to reference a timeless engagement with the natural world. I borrow scientific equations, geometric diagrams, mythological and medieval illustrations, to bring structure to the visual dance and express a human yearning to understand and explain. Religious symbols may be repurposed to reflect a reverence for nature. Disparate images are clipped and collaged, creating appealing vignettes which invite the viewer into the conversation. My decorated forms draw inspiration from the history of functional ceramics, balancing fragility and stability, vulnerability and strength. Through the use of iron rich clay, melty homemade glazes, and an assertively handmade process, I hope to convey and share my passion for the materiality of ceramics.
After receiving a BA in Liberal Arts (Emphasis in Sculpture and Printmaking) from UCSC, Clara Lanyi discovered ceramics at Cabrillo College. She studied for a semester at CCAC (now CCA) in Oakland, Ca, and went on to earn her BFA in Ceramics from Alfred University SUNY College of Ceramics. This was followed by an MFA in Ceramics from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Clara has attended workshops by Julia Galloway, Sam Chung, Ayumi Horie, Deborah Schwartzkopf, Heidi Preuss Grew, Cathi Jefferson and others. In the spring of 2014, Clara did a short term residency at The Clay Studio of Missoula . In 2017, Ms.Lanyi relocated to Springfield, Oregon where she works in her home studio and sometimes teaches at Clay Space and Lane Community College, both in Eugene, Oregon.