Chandra Debuse's Playscapes

" These objects become playscapes for pattern and character to frolic, inviting human fingers to also roam the topography, seeking out their own morsels of delight. "

Chandra Debuse's latest show Playscapes is a visual treat. The show features functional pots covered with drawings of animals dancing, skating, and stretching. She uses these postures to create imaginative scenarios full of play, desire, and attitude.

I am a big fan of Chandra's negotiation of two and three dimensional space. She deftly switches between the volumetric curves of her thrown, or slab built forms, to the bouncing drawn lines of her images. I also appreciate her technical approach to image making. Her tool box is wide open as she employs mishima, underglaze painting, glaze inlay and sgraffito. The variation in line quality between these techniques keeps my eyes moving around the pots.

My favorite pot in this show is the Reach Teapot pictured above. One side of the teapot features the squirrel stretching towards the spout. The other side reveals the nut that could be the reward of his hard work. This overextended reach is a metaphor for the desire to meet our self imposed goals. Such a simple image explains so much about human nature.

To see the whole Playscape show online at the Charlie Cummings Gallery click here. The show opened October 17th and runs through November 17th. Here is Chandra's full statement about this body of work.

"As a maker of functional pottery, I use narrative imagery, pattern and form to encourage a playful sense of discovery. The intimacy of using a handmade object infused with bouncing lines, candy-colors, low-relief and hand-drawn elements beckons users to ponder the playful message on each item.
Recently I moved from south Florida to the mountains of eastern Tennessee. Although Gatlinburg and West Palm Beach are 800 miles apart and are situated in different climates, the similarities between the two places are remarkable. Both areas contain natural landscapes of astounding beauty, but many visitors forego trips to the ocean or the mountains for a more contrived setting, such as a world-class golf resort, theme park, or outlet mall. Through observing landscapes of leisure in these two regions: (parks, golf courses, beaches, swimming pools), I am inspired to create voluminous three-dimensional forms with manicured, controlled surfaces and divided spaces. I create salt and pepper landscapes, multi-level treat servers, and jars, plates, cups, or bowls with hand-drawn characters engaging in various playful activities. Because I consider all surfaces of my objects as canvas, imagery often wraps around a piece. These objects become playscapes for pattern and character to frolic, inviting human fingers to also roam the topography, seeking out their own morsels of delight. Often it is only through experiencing the piece: physically holding it, exploring it, and hopefully using it, can the whole image be seen. It is my hope that through this interaction between user and object, a playful attitude is sparked."


  1. Thank you for the posting about my show, Ben! I am honored by your thoughtful writing and am looking forward to seeing your show in a few weeks.

  2. Glad you like them June. Chandra has a few cups in the Cup: The Intimate Object show too. http://bit.ly/sKSEuc

    Chandra you deserve all the praise. This show was fantastic.