How Destruction Inspires Zemer Peled's Otherworldly Art
Photo: Steven Michael
Peled has exhibited her sculptures in galleries from Milwaukee to Milan, but her life as an artist didn't begin until her early 20s, when a breakup led her to try art therapy. "We painted and worked with different materials," says Peled, "and I was drawn to clay. It responds to your touch, movement and emotions."
In 2010, her passion brought her to London's Royal College of Art for a master's degree in ceramics. There, she began experimenting with her now-signature shards, hoping to capture the fluidity and firmness found in nature. "From a distance, the sculptures look soft," says Peled. "But up close, you realize they've got bite."
Whether she's working on pillow-size sea anemones or a ten-foot-tall treelike figure, Peled (currently in residence at an arts foundation in Montana) always begins the same way: Using a slab roller, she flattens wet clay into large, thin sheets. Next, each layer (still wet) is either stained and cut into narrow, featherlike shapes or fired, glazed, refired and shattered into pieces. Then, with a rough sketch in mind, she sticks individual shards into clay forms or clay- and concrete-covered frameworks. "It can be very chaotic in the studio," says Peled, whose larger structures typically take four months to complete. "I always have Band-Aids on hand." Despite her work's gorgeous complexity, Peled continues to rely on one rudimentary tool: "A hammer is still my secret weapon."
Photo: Sylvain Deleu
Photo: Courtesy of Zemer Peled
Photo: Eran Turgeman