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Mark Vander Heide

Mark Vander Heide
Mark Vander Heide

As a child, growing up in Holland, MI, I was an avid drawer, often creating fantastical creatures and the worlds they lived in. It wasn’t until my last year of college, while studying sociology, that I found my way to the ceramics studio and the world of clay, where my art practice is currently rooted. The years between that first studio and now were mostly filled in Pittsburgh, PA, where I moved for a ceramic residency program and stayed for work as an educator (both in the arts and early childhood education). Currently, I’m back in Michigan and pursuing my MFA in Ceramics at Cranbrook Academy of Art. 

The ceramics studio at Cranbrook
The ceramics studio at Cranbrook

Conceptually, my work often investigates consumption. I explore the concept broadly, not merely in regard to eating but also in making, buying, and connecting with one another. I highlight the relationships between abundance and dearth, between personal and societal haves and have-nots and haves-in-excess.  

Untitled (Bird/Worm) by Mark Vander Heide
Untitled (Bird/Worm) by Mark Vander Heide—included in The Cup, The Mug 2020

Melding whimsical, childlike motifs onto domestic (often food-functional) ceramic vessels, I entice the viewer into simple, intimate vignettes that explore these consumptive relationships all while participating in them. Thematically, I source much from (my) lived experiences of abundance, excess, and corpulence; I think about my past eating of animals and my continued eating of animal products, the abundance I observe in grocery stores and dumpsters, and the thriving fauna in cemeteries. I consider the food I must ingest and the food I daydream of and the food that will actually go into these pots.  

"Everybody loses" Baby Teeth Jars by Mark Vander Heide
“Everybody loses” Baby Teeth Jars by Mark Vander Heide

Like countless picture books, I explore anthropomorphized animals as a vehicle for my narrations, perhaps paired with a quickly scrawled word or phrase. The animals often stand agape, reaching for cupcakes and coffee (drawn, real, and imagined). These vignettes and the pots in which they exist surprise, disarm, provoke, and bring about a consciousness–an agency–to our own activity in consumptive systems.

Untitled (Yellow Lion Mug) by Mark Vander Heide—included in The Cup, The Mug 2019
Untitled (Yellow Lion Mug) by Mark Vander Heide—included in The Cup, The Mug 2019

You can find more about me and my work online at markvanderheide.com and on instagram (@mark.vanderheide).

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