Alex Miller | "Male Glaze"

by Jake Harrison

Clay is often talked about in relation to the body– symbolically we are all made of it– and viewing the body through it, or it’s functionality, we are presented with constructs regarding gendered performance and form-to-identity conventions. There are inherent sexualities present in clay. Like a church, pottery is representative of reproductive organs – the church entryway, often an archway, is meant to invoke the vaginal canal with the altar representing the womb; in this way man enters woman, woman as passive figure. Similarly, pottery, specifically clay, is submissive – a material that has fallen victim to the whims of an artist. Yet it can be masculine and feminine, mirroring phallic forms yet made with the intent to be filled. Clay gains its femininity from the process of throwing; pressure applied – force.

In this way clay has mirrored what man has done to women; pressured and compacted like centering a mound of clay. In a post-#MeToo era, the last thing women want to think about is if her sexual expression is a product of patriarchal oppression and how perhaps that oppression has been subliminally canonized in art objects throughout history. Think the Guerrilla Girls who famously asked similar questions, highlighting a double standard present in contemporary art institutions for wanting nude female portraits but not women artists in their spaces.

Alex Miller is a Los Angeles-based ceramic sculptor and founder of “Male Glaze,” a provocative but deliberate examination of the the toxicity of heteronormative art standards through clay. Playing off of the history of the the male gaze and its appropriation of female and feminine forms , the “Male Glaze” shifts the conversation to clay as product- genderless and unglazed. Furthermore, for every piece of art sold, a portion of the proceeds benefits victims of sexual assault. Although, this doesn't do much to change the history of control and abuse of feminine figures throughout history and in art it renegotiates and questions our standards of practice–hoping for change. 

Check out the debut solo show for Male Glaze at ArtMovement DTLA on November 3rd. Products can be purchased at in M+B Gallery’s applied arts ANNEX and at Freehand in Los Angeles.

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All handmade in Los Angeles by Alex Miller.

Photographed by Michael Newstead.