The first time we laid eyes on Kyle Scott Lee’s Red Sun Vases, we knew we had to see where the magic happened. The man behind Ceramic Meltdown has been building his ceramics practice for over 15 years, and his training truly shows in his debut 20x200 edition—each one-of-a-kind vase is decadently glazed, gracefully shaped, exhibiting the sort of inimitable gestural confidence that could only come from experience, and more beautiful in person than is even possible to capture in pictures. Seriously. You need to see one of these IRL.
Of course, we’re not the only ones fawning over this artist’s work. Ceramic Meltdown has been featured everywhere from Elle Decor to Harper’s Bazaar, and it’s no surprise Lee’s pieces are prone to grabbing the attention of artfully-minded editors. His colorful, abstract, curvaceous creations are irresistibly eye-catching. You might have seen them recently at West Elm (who made this great little video about him) or the Southern Crossings Pottery Festival. Lee’s currently preparing for the 29th Annual St. Croix Valley Pottery Tour, regarded as a preeminent gathering of talented potters from around the nation. This year, like the last, the festival will be held online—sign up for their mailing list for more information.
In the meantime, catch today’s new In the Studio, in which we tour Lee’s BKYLN CLAY space and get the 411 on a few of our Qs for him. Since we spoke with Lee, he’s moved out of BKLYN CLAY and into his new ceramic studio. A big deal! And surely, a prelude to more incredible work to come. We can’t wait to see what’s in store.
Read the full interview below, and be sure to snag one of Lee’s limited-edition Red Sun Vases before they’re all sold out. There’s only a few left! — Team 20x200
Where's your studio?
I work out of BKLYN Clay, which is a public, shared Ceramic Studio, but I’m making plans to rent a private Ceramic Studio space.
What's your favorite tool in the studio?
I have a small ceramic Mudtools Polymer Rib that is my favorite tool that allows me to create a perfect transition from the body and neck of my vases.
What do you wear when working in the studio?
Jeans, T-Shirt and Clay-pron by Leslie King.
What's on your in-studio playlist?
If I’m playing music it’s usually instrumental jazz.
What's the first thing you do when you arrive?
I usually do an assessment of what I need to accomplish for the day … trimming pieces, photographing, glazing and decorating, or making new pieces.
What's your work style? Late nights? Intense creative bursts? Slow and steady wins the race?
I am prolific in the Ceramic Studio and work quickly. I can usually create a lot of work in one day … with adequate space available.
The colorful, abstract surface designs of your ceramics really stand out. Where do you find inspiration for them?
Jean-Michael Basquiat and Piet Mondrain.
You've got a ton of teaching experience under your belt. How does teaching inform your own artistic process?
I love teaching. Teaching keeps me proficient in standard techniques of throwing on the ceramic wheel. I teach my students standard, textbook throwing techniques, however, I do have non-standard techniques that I use when creating my own work.
What's your favorite way to procrastinate in the studio?
Checking my Instagram and my website.
Whens, Hows & Whys
When did you first realize you wanted to become an artist and how’d you get there?
I knew I wanted to become an artist at an early age. I’ve worked with photography, painting, and drawing and discovered ceramics in 2003.
How do you get over creative blocks?
I collect many inspirational photos, but will also draw or write a log of new ideas.
What do you like best about 20x200?
I enjoy that 20x200 provides a diverse range of fine art … print, ceramics, photography, paper and textiles.
Why do you think it's important to have a dedicated work space for your art? What advice would you give to artists looking to build a creative work space?
It’s important to have a dedicated space in order to experiment, test and prototype your artwork. Building a private creative workspace can be expensive, so I would suggest that an artist works hard to establish themselves and commit to a dedicated Studio Space when you and your creative business is sustainable in supporting that work space.
The 411 on Kyle Scott Lee
Kyle Lee was born in White Plains, NY and currently resides in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. He creates voluptuous vessels and well-turned cups that provide the canvas for his unique hand painting and surface treatments. Kyle’s practice has included teaching over the years at Educational Alliance Art School and other institutions. Kyle has studied ceramics in multiple studios throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, NY and has exhibited in solo and group gallery exhibitions in New York City and abroad. His work can also be found in private collections in London, France, New York, Pittsburgh, and North Carolina. Over his 15 years as... a ceramicist, Kyle has developed his unique style of ceramic art incorporating traditional shapes with a colorful and abstract sense of design and glaze application. Kyle is a founding and active member of BKLYN CLAY and the first recipient of the BKLYN CLAY Residency. As of fall 2020, he is currently creating work for West Elm and Paul Smith and is preparing for the 28th Annual St. Croix Valley Pottery Tour, coming in 2021, which is nationally recognized as a gathering of exceptional potters.