Lee Ustinich is a clay artist and the proprietor of Lee U Ceramics, based in the Lakes Region of central New Hampshire. She has been making art since her New Jersey childhood. She moved to NYC after high school, working in the graphic arts. Later she moved to Virginia and earned a BFA from the School of the Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University, majoring in ceramics/materials.
The unique characteristics of clay and glazes, in response to her concepts and impositions, are what draw Lee to clay. She takes the materials and firing process "as is", allowing and embracing natural flaws and technical imperfections, when it suits her purpose, manipulating what is presented and at times introducing other challenges to the clay.
Lee uses commercial clay bodies and glazes, firing at cone 6 (approx. 2230°F) in an electric kiln and enjoy wood firing and other methods when the opportunity presents. Her ceramic pieces are designed to be sculpturally functional and distinctive, for home and office use. She shares her art for the pleasure of others who appreciate the beauty of clay.
I am greatly attracted to serendipity, letting its energy enhance my life and my work. I “let live” or even deliberately introduce cracks, cuts, tears, rips, holes, and other fragmenting elements to certain pieces. The big cracks in the tea light holder, the hole in the top of the box, and the ragged edge on the tray are intentional. The crazing of a glaze or the bloating on a clay body is often accepted as integral to the piece. I want to convey a sense of strength despite the allusion to the contrary, as implied by challenges to surface, form, and function. My pieces tend to run counter to the refinement common to the retail ceramics market.
I like to leverage that serendipity by infusing my pieces with just a touch of intrigue, struggle, resolution, joy, and determination. When clays and glazes present me with the realities of their nature, including flaws of my own making, I am metaphorically "honoring the survivor,” and at times, those who no longer survive. Having learned that "progress, not perfection" is the journey that best supports my goals, my artist statement is "WYSIWYG, and, it's intentional."