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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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. Small Works runs through January 3, 2020.