In her first solo exhibition, Iori Espiritu presents the quiet fire within.
Text and photos by Maia San Diego
They were pieces of a soul. The room was small. There was stillness. There was peace. But despite the silence, there was also vigor. It was a quiet space yet, somehow, there was sound. Perhaps, it was the crackling flame echoing from memory.
The process of ceramics uses the different elements of nature to transform earth as material. Water is combined with clay as it is formed, attached, broken, and reattached once more to mold the images stemming from within. Glazes, slips or oxides are applied – different colors, different shades, various strokes across the surface. The kiln – the birthing mother – is fired at high temperatures to strengthen the bodies of clay subjected to scorching heat.
Featuring all ceramic works, Iori Espiritu’s first solo exhibition, “Fragile Earth”, was like the forces of nature – seemingly calm but full of passion. The room exudes an energy that is delicate yet powerful, where Espiritu’s ceramic pieces were hung, laid out, and even suspended mid-air.
If one listens closely, the silence is a healing whisper. True enough, the artist’s ten-year ceramic practice started as art therapy for her lupus condition. Appreciating the versatility and potential of the medium, what began as a healing activity led to a full-time pursuit.
Apart from being witness to life’s impermanence, Espiritu has observed the earth’s constant shifts, whether brought about by natural elements or manmade factors. “Fragile Earth” revolves around the idea of the temporality of our environment and how things are bound by change.
For this exhibition, most of the pieces have been hand-built by the artist, her hands somewhat leaving an imprint on every form.
In Espiritu’s “Flux” series, she lines the wall with slabs of textured colors. Side by side, shapes and textures are expressed through nature’s quiet hues, creating an abstraction.
Espiritu explored texture and form that are found in nature, which is evident in the organic forms of her pieces. Her hanging work, “Fragile Earth”, involves numerous hand-built ceramic leaves suspended from the ceiling, seemingly echoing the soft sound of windchimes as one gazes upon the work.
The artist also explored using various glazes to create different levels of texture and depth in each piece. Upon a closer look on Espiritu’s “Crater” series and “Untitled” series, the artist’s strokes of blues and browns on each shape and form speak volumes. Washes of varying colored glazes coat the surface, showing the different shades of earth’s colors.
In using ceramics as a medium, high temperatures over long hours are needed for the clay body – or the earth – to be as strong as they are. Perhaps, as humans, we can relate. In recognizing that one’s fragility and vulnerability are essential for one to be truly strong, Espiritu believes that showing one’s vulnerability is a sign of strength itself.
Espiritu’s first solo show appears to be truly relevant in times of our encounters with phenomena beyond our control such as natural disasters. Amidst the ashes, strength can be found in each one as the artist has also found healing.
Iori Espiritu’s “Fragile Earth” is a quiet birthing of one’s soul – a soul that has gone through the blazing heat of life yet remains a gentle spirit.
Iori Espiritu’s first solo show, “Fragile Earth”, at Vinyl on Vinyl Gallery, 2241 Chino
Roces Avenue, Makati City. Exhibition runs until February 02, 2020.