Michael Fujita

Rock Creek Helzer Gallery


Michael Fujita, Two Columns, porcelain, original dimensions 18″ x 7″ x 7″, 2022

Sticks and Stones

  • Dates: January 25 – February 23, 2024
  • Artist talk and gallery reception: Wednesday, February 14, 11am-1pm
  • Gallery hours: Monday – Friday, 9am-4pm

Michael Fujita’s sculptural ceramic work forgoes the expected utilitarian value that we usually associate with the medium: mugs, platters, teapots, and the like. Instead, through layered and laborious processes, Fujita mines the material itself for meaning and value. Each of the conglomerate objects first begins as clay scraps swept from the floors of his friends and his own studios. The porcelain waste is then processed into “new” clay and formed into various small shapes that are then drilled through with hundreds of holes. Each of these shapes is individually bisque-fired and then glazed and amassed inside of a mold for a final firing in which the glazes weld the mass into a connected whole.

What is present in these objects of accumulation? Labor. Reuse. Fragments. Unities. Time. Fujita’s labor and reuse highlight and pay respect to the impact of ceramic. Clay bodies and glaze components are mined and shipped all over the world and firings take large amounts of energy. Through his devotion to reclaiming waste, Fujita recognizes and accepts his part in this chain – an idea that is compounded by his use of porcelain, a material that at one point in human history was more expensive than gold.

The work also evokes history through its visual allusion to fallen cities and geologic formations – things that return to their constituent parts through time and are born from materials similar to clay – rock to sand, cement to dust, entropy. But Fujita’s work plays with this notion in an interesting way. Instead of the parts dispersing into chaotic piles or blowing away in the wind, they are caught and frozen in simple yet elegant geometric forms. They offer us a new way of seeing their persistent value, a new understanding of their organization. In this way, the pieces show us the creation embedded in destruction and remind us of the endless cycles that we inhabit.

Exhibition statement written and contributed by Ben Buswell.