Inside The Artist’s Studio with John Masello

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I grew up in the suburbs outside of Chicago, IL before moving to Bloomington-Normal to attend Illinois State University to study art. In 2016, I completed my BFA with a concentration in ceramics. I am currently in my third year of the MFA program at The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH.

kitchen counter shelf. Terra cotta, photo printed stickers, acrylic paint, glass, spray paint, wax. 2018.

kitchen counter shelf. Terra cotta, photo printed stickers, acrylic paint, glass, spray paint, wax. 2018.

no joy or fulfillment. Shirt fabrics, stoneware, porcelain, plaster, foam, spray paint, poly-fil, styrofoam pellets. 2019.

no joy or fulfillment. Shirt fabrics, stoneware, porcelain, plaster, foam, spray paint, poly-fil, styrofoam pellets. 2019.

My recent work uses a combination of ceramics, found objects, plastics, textiles, and other process-driven endeavors. I am interested in artifice—how we understand what we are looking at and how materials can be deceptive about their identity.

Dredge. Plaster, wood, acrylic yarn, silicone. 2019.

Dredge. Plaster, wood, acrylic yarn, silicone. 2019.

Since I am putting together my thesis exhibition and dissertation, I am focused on refining similar ideas and materials through iterations. For the past few months, I have been working with thousands of small plastic tile spacers. The spacers (which look like a plastic magnetic letter U) are originally meant to be placed in between tiles before grout is added, ensuring that each tile is equidistant from the next. I drilled holes into each individual U so they could be tied together to form a larger piece.

u-blanket. Tile spacers, monofilament. 2019.

u-blanket. Tile spacers, monofilament. 2019.

The first iteration of this work formed a “blanket”. Through the act of making, I learned how flexible this formed textile could be, as well as the structural limits of the material. From there, I started tying the spacers into 3-dimensional “brick” forms. This decision emerged not only from how proportionally perfect the spacers fit to 4 x 8 x 16 cement blocks, but also from my research into camp, borrowing from Susan Sontag’s idea that “camp sees everything in quotation marks. It’s not a lamp, but a ‘lamp’; …To perceive Camp in objects and persons is to understand Being-As-Playing-A-Role” (Notes on Camp, 1964).

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From there, I started creating hybrid-forms from the tile spacers. This work is still new to me, but my starting logic with this series is to create objects that show its materiality as both a textile and a structure, capable of creating and reacting to 3-dimensional form.

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johnmasello.com
Instagram: @johnmasello


John Masello is one of 112 artists included in the 6th annual Small Works exhibition at Main Street Arts, a national juried exhibition of work 12 inches or less. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shop. Small Works runs through January 3, 2020.

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