OMM Studio VIII: Zeynep Severge

Zeynep Severge discusses the intricacies and overlaps of artistic and personal growth.

Istanbul-based ceramic artist Zeynep Severge took advantage of the slower-pace engendered by the pandemic to expand her practice physically and conceptually. Below, we talk about her new studio and her creative inspirations going forward.

Can you tell us a bit about your practice? What were the biggest influences as you developed your style?

I think my practice began through my fetishistic childhood collection of found or household objects. Over time, the impulse to take things brought with it the impulse to make things. I first entered the world of ceramics by attending pottery classes after work. Although I wasn’t great at it at first, I began to enjoy the hands-on and messy activity. Until then I had convinced myself that I didn’t have any crafting skills, which is ridiculous. Since my childhood I had fantasized about creating and decorating a personal space I could escape to whenever I wished. Now I get to experience that feeling through my practice.

I learned everything I know about ceramic production by myself in my studio over time, and I’m still learning. I am just beginning to feel satisfied with my work after thousands of attempts, mistakes, and broken molds. My personality and psychology also grow along with my practice. Ceramic production is a discipline that involves many different processes and a lot of attention, patience, planning, and organization. I developed a lot of personality traits that I needed, even if I had to do it the hard way.

Did you have an upcoming exhibition or project that was cancelled due to COVID-19 and subsequent global crisis? Will your works be shown in the near future?

No, in fact during the pandemic I had more orders than I could manage on my own. I have a couple of exhibition ideas that I’m excited about for the future, but their time hasn’t come yet. I can’t share my craft before I feel totally comfortable with it, which can be a slow process. A selection of my work will be exhibited at Bodrum Maçakızı Hotel through the summer alongside many ceramic artists I admire thanks to Istanbul ’74.

I was also invited to participate in the “1000 Vases” exhibit for Paris Design Week in September. Due to the pandemic the number of vases exhibited was decreased from 1000 to 100, so I’m looking forward that one of the 100 vases exhibited will be my own.

What do you foresee for the post-pandemic art world? How has this period affected your practice?

This might be a little selfish but I really appreciated the pause of regular life. I stayed in my studio for most of the lockdown, I made a lot of work and continue to do so. My studio is filled to the brim, so I rented another room in the same building and I’m using it as a laboratory for my new experiments and productions. I can’t foresee anything for the world or art in general, and even if I could I don’t think I’m in the position to say anything about it. I’m not very hopeful.

What are you currently focusing on in your work?

I’m finishing the construction of my new studio so that I can complete all of my existing orders and focus on the new ideas that I have. Once I begin to work there in a cleaner and more organized fashion, I’m planning on increasing the size of my work and develop my own secret recipes. I’ve been thinking about experimenting with colors and texture for a long time, so I hope to incorporate those ideas in my upcoming work.

Have there been any artists or exhibits you’ve been especially moved by since the beginning of isolation?

I have a terrible memory and I get excited about a lot of beautiful things I see. I can’t think of a specific artist or piece at the moment. I couldn’t even watch an episode of television during the pandemic because I’ve had so much trouble focusing. I’ve just been listening to music day and night.

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