Maria Johnson

Sep 18, 2018Julia Kahrs

Maria Jonsson's clay worker has a playful expression that stimulates and activates other senses during the meal. Jonsson wants not to limit an object's area of ​​use and opens up a creative encounter between object and user.

What kind of work do you create?
My work is composed of the following components: materiality, form and function. The composition aims to give an expression that is playful, tactile and which at the same time creates an experience in the meeting with object and user.

What is your earliest memory related to art, or to creating something?
I took the food course at the gymnasium with specialization in bakery and patisserie. Here I sculpted fruit lying in a dish of hot sugar using an air pump controlled by hand, a process reminiscent of working with glass. At the time, I had no idea that it was art that I would be working with many years later.

What did you want to be as a child?
As a youngster, I often thought I would become a firefighter to see how I would cope with the physical and mental challenges. Lawyering was also a field I visited at the time.

Did you grow up in a creative environment?
I did not grow up in a creative environment. In contrast, I often came up with projects myself. For example, I dried flowers and made flower arrangements in dried sponges. My little sister always got upset when we made bouquets of flowers for mother because mine was much nicer. We ended up combining the flowers as a gift from both of us. I think the aesthetic has been present throughout my upbringing without my being aware of it. 

When in life did you first learn about your field of work? What brought you there?
In 2007, I began a bachelor's degree in photography in Canada. In the first year, we students were given the opportunity to choose different fields before finally choosing a direction. I worked a lot within the three-dimensional through various materials and only then understood that it was here that I felt the greatest driving force. That was the beginning of the journey that took me to where I am today.

What is the best advice you have received?
To follow my dreams and not be afraid to make mistakes and fail.

What does success mean to you?
That I have given myself the freedom to do and work with what I really want.

What is your relationship with your material?
For me, both the process and the material are important elements in my artistry. The material varies from wood, clay and textile. In the process, I work physically and get to know the material where the body also gets to take part in the form of repetitive movements, physical strength and challenges. The tactile contact with the object in the process through various dimensions differs from, for example, the photograph.

Tell us a little about your workplace!
In the last two years, I have worked with various projects and materials. My workplace has therefore varied depending on my needs and the materials I have used. This means that I have hired myself out to various workshops/studios depending on how the project looks. The flexibility has meant that I have met many interesting people with whom I have exchanged both knowledge, experience and input.

Which object is your favorite among all that you have made?
At this point, it is the (tea) pot that comes in various sizes and shapes. I often get questions about the area of ​​use of my objects. My answer is that they can be used for whatever you want and that I don't want to limit their creative process. We grow up with norms about how a certain object should be used and I think that can limit our creativity about how we use objects around us.

What is the most challenging thing about being your own boss?
It may be knowing one's limitations. To give yourself a day off without the conscience taking over. Being your own boss is also a privilege. I value the flexibility of managing my own working hours and the ability to take work with me anywhere.

Do you have any tricks or techniques that never fail if you need inspiration or to break out of routines?
If I get out of routine, it can often be connected to the fact that I need a break, to stop and rest my thoughts somewhere else. Physical activity can then be a good change, a walk in the forest or getting inspiration from other artists. Chatting and sharing the process with others can also be a good solution.

What is your relationship with Norway Designs?
For 60 years, Norway Designs has been a leading platform for design and art in the Nordics. It gives us players the opportunity to showcase our work and at the same time see and be inspired by other designers and artists. I think it is positive that Norway Designs collaborates with institutions to showcase processes and the coming generation.

What expectations do you have for Norway Designs NÅ Vol. 5?
I have not set any expectations for the exhibition, but instead allow myself to be surprised by the various responses that may come. But at the same time, I hope the exhibition as a whole will be well received.

Tell us a little about the items you are exhibiting in this year's exhibition.
The Convexus series is a playful organic shape that, with its convex expression, balances on its own center of gravity. The series is designed to enhance the experience, stimulate and activate other senses during the meal.

Which identity do material and technique help to express?
Each shape is special as there is no one like the other, the variations lie in the design, size and color tones. When the objects are designed I work with the upper and inner part on a lathe, finally I take care of the convex shape by hand where I find the center of gravity it can balance on. The color tones are produced from four different types of stoneware clay where I work both separately with them and mix to bring out different tones in the same spectrum. The methods of material and technique give a continuous kinship to the entire product series, where the strict design, the color tones and the convexity embrace it as a whole.

Is there one or more identities that are reflected through your work?
I would perhaps say that there were two types: the individual, as well as the kinship that is highlighted by everyone being part of a collection.

Read more about the process behind Convexus here.

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Sep 18, 2018