Lee Ustinich (that would be me) is a clay artist and the proprietor of Lee U Ceramics, based in the Lakes Region of central New Hampshire. I have been making art since my New Jersey childhood. I moved to NYC after high school, working as a photomural "spotter" for Modernage Photographics. Next, I moved to Virginia where I earned a BFA from the School of the Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University, majoring in ceramics/materials. I pivoted from art to acquire a Master's degree in allied health/treatment of addiction, which became my career. Moving to NH, I was the State Planner for the federal Mental Health Block Grant. I have since retired from behavioral health services and have set up a home ceramics studio.
I primarily use 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. The unique characteristics of clay and glazes, in response to my concepts and impositions, are what draw me in. I take the materials and firing process "as is", allowing and embracing natural flaws and technical imperfections, when it suits my purpose, manipulating what is presented and at times introducing other challenges to the clay.
My ceramic pieces are designed to be sculpturally functional and distinctive, for home and office use.
The short form: WYSIWYG: It's Intentional.
The long form: I am greatly attracted to serendipity, letting its energy enhance my life and my work. I “let live” or deliberately introduce cracks, cuts, tears, rips, holes, flawed glaze chemistry/technique 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 within the general 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. Progress, not perfection, is the journey that best supports my goals.