The sculptural ceramic creations of Michael Gustavson are often compared to large, mysterious eggs, or the soft forms of pregnant women. His ceramic pieces take on the texture from eggshells to volcanic rock, giving his work an engrossing quality.
Perhaps because of this quality, Gustavson's work often inspires people to touch it, or, more accurately, tap it. People will tap all around the sides of his vessels, half-expecting something to emerge!
Gustavson often refers to himself as a "glaze painter" when describing his work, and its tactile appeal is no surprise to him.
He has always used a wide range of glazes to create the many different textures he uses, from the "lava" glaze to high gloss, matte, metallic, satin and crusted glazes.
As Gustavson's work progressed so too did his sense of design and composition. He has become a sort of Houdini of the ceramics world, always breaking out of the constraints of the craft.
He doesn't spin, glaze and fire vessels like most ceramists. He sometimes finds making vessels too limiting. When he does throw one, he'll take it off the wheel and practically climb inside it, pushing and stretching the clay to paper-thin proportions until he leaves an impression in the work resembling that of someone inside straining to get out.
Exploration led him to the large, "fragmented," multi-panel wall hangings which are the focus of his work today. The wall hangings provide him with even more space with which to work and look a lot like huge shards arranged in a composition.
In fact, these wall-fragments were inspired by the archaelogical remains of lost cultures. "From the past," Gustavson believes, "ideas and innovations emerge."