Bobby Jaber’s chemistry Porcelainia
“Chemistry is the study of changes in matter. More than any other art form, ceramics dramatically demonstrates chemical change, especially at the physical level.”
American artist Bobby Jaber retired from teaching chemistry over 20 years ago, with the desire to create art that drew on his roots as a science educator. He chose to become a clay sculptor in his retirement, and his art gained attention for its shapes that mimic molecules and molecular structures. His favourite shape to work with is the truncated icosahedron, a shape that reveals itself to look like the carbon 60 molecule. The carbon 60 molecule is often known as the most beautiful of the molecules due to this spherical shape.
Jaber’s choice in using the medium of clay cleverly places emphasis on chemistry to further link together science and art. Clay is a form of earth with unique chemical qualities. The processes that a piece of clay undergoes in its life, to become a sculpture, is a microcosm where we can see some of science’s overarching laws: equilibrium, entropy, force, steady states, and closed systems. Jaber outlines these connections between the laws of physics and chemistry, and his own processes, on his website.
Now at age 76, Jaber appears to be quite philosophically reflective about his process and what it has meant to the last 20 years of his life: “It’s not what you start with or what you end up with, but it’s what lies between the beginning and the end that is the meaning of the whole act of creation… and you never finish anything perfectly…”
Jaber calls his approach to pottery making the ‘octahedral approach’, and hopes other potential sculptors can follow and enjoy the process as much as he does.
- alinta krauth