Larry Buller (Lincoln, NE) earned an MFA from the Hixson-Lied College Fine and Performing Arts at the University of Nebraska in 2016. Recently his work has been shown at the Bemis Art Center in Omaha, Nebraska, the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, California and as part of the National Council on Education in the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) national exhibition in Cincinnati, Ohio. Buller has completed artist residencies at Anderson Ranch in Snowmass Village, Colorado and at Red Lodge Clay Center in Red Lodge, Montana. This spring he was an artist in residence at the Center for Ceramics in Berlin, Germany. In addition to his studio work Buller is a part-time lecturer with Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts.
Queer voices are marginalized by dominate power structures and mainstream religion is routinely weaponized in order to demonize and relegate the LGBTQ+ community to “other” status. Against this backdrop, I find agency in creating art which at once challenges these narratives and invite the viewer to question previously held beliefs regarding organized religion, sexual identity, masculinity and fetish. The craft discipline of clay is ideal for my admittedly subversive intentions. Ceramics, with its rich historical language and domestic conations offers one boundless freedom for creative expression. I find inspiration by viewing “high-brow” ceramics found in museum collections as well as “low-brow” tchotchkes encountered at flea markets. My art occupies that in-between space and challenges notions about what is traditionally considered to be “good taste” for the domestic environment. Elaborately embellished forms masquerade as being “china cabinet ready” but closer inspection reveals a celebration of bondage, role-play and sexual fetish prevalent in the under belly of gay culture and seldom discussed in polite society.
Collecting vintage objects directly inform my work. These objects, from the late ninetieth to the early twentieth century, are curated onto the wall and hold a decidedly masculine vibe. Of particular interest are pieces that relate to men’s fraternal lodge organizations and reliquaries with religious connotations. Taken together, these collections mimic my ceramic work which are also wall installations containing plates, vases and fetish objects. I delight in a curatorial process that brings a variety of pieces together to present a narrative that encourages diverse interpretations.
Slip cast and press mold methods allow for forms that can “mix and match” in a variety of configurations. Making multiples satisfies my “inner magpie” which delights in continually adoring my environment in order to create a world I wish to inhabit. This working method allows for similar forms with each having different surface treatments. Kitschy embellishments such as gemstones, fake fur, gold luster and fancy trims “queer up” my work and liken them to ostentatious “drag.”
My artwork creates an avenue in which I find my voice as an artist while political and religious leaders seek power at the expense of the LGBTQ+ community. The focus required to foster artistic growth, maintain a studio practice and exhibit work is empowering against the dystopian backdrop of this current moment.