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The Most Beautiful Porcelain - Katie Ridley Murphy

As many know — I spend countless hours each weekend exploring the world of ceramic art. Working in a group studio I often meet other artists who share my interest in this intriguing world. A few months ago I participated in a Raku Firing. The best part about this style of firing is the unpredictable nature of the results - so much time is spent gathered around the kilns, the scent of smoke in the air, surmising about best methods for achieving the coloration desired. This social interaction inevitably opens the doors to further discussing each other’s works, past and present, and generally gives one the opportunity to get to know other artists.  

During this particular firing I met an artist who was firing the most amazingly intricate porcelain carvings. Katie held in her hand what appeared to be a collection of real sticks, only they were made of pure white porcelain. We discussed her hope to let the smoke from the firing process color each delicately carved piece a rich tone of black. By the end of the firing process the pieces were marked with an ombre like effect from the smoke — a finish likely unable to be replicated if tried — adding another layer of complexity and interest to an already captivating collection of work.  

Days after the firing Katie’s work lingered in my mind. I had never seen porcelain carved in such a detailed way (she uses a needle to carve each piece) and wondered what some of her previous work looked like. With a little social media digging I found her Instagram account (@katieridleymurphy) and was pleased to find an entire array of meticulously carved items as well as a refreshing overall aesthetic. Fortuitously — a few weeks later — I was able to attend a gallery opening at the Marcia Wood Gallery in Midtown where I saw the entire collection of carved sticks in person. 

Katie’s work, in my opinion, is at the same time complex and simple. She has taken everyday items – a halved lemon, a grouping of snap peas, a leaf – and used the medium of porcelain to reveal the complexity; and beauty; of each of these items. When I view her work I am reminded to Simplify. Slow down. Appreciate.

In my mind I imagine each piece used singularly – placed on a small stack of books – possibly in a formal space, where it might catch the eye of a guest who takes a moment to appreciate the necessary restraint used in its minimalist display.