Maxwell Mustardo


Maxwell Mustardo was born in 1993 in rural New Jersey. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Science in Art History and Theory from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 2017. During his time at Alfred Max earned multiple awards that include an ARGUS grant for materials research, a Levine Endowment grant to study in Japan, and a nomination for the Thayer Fellowship in the Arts/Patricia Kerr Ross Award as the SUNY finalist in the visual arts category. He is currently working as a resident artist at the studio of Toshiko Takaezu in Quakertown, New Jersey.

We displace facets of ourselves into our environments, sometimes through the objects that populate them and the distinctive materialities that constitute those objects. My practice is driven by exploring this perceptual, psychological, and phenomenological space between discrete objects and their beholders through investigations of materiality, indexicality, functionality, and morphology. I create a range of sculptural and utilitarian objects in ceramic and plastic materials that exploit unctuous ambiguities to generate an empathetic and autotelic encounter of the work. I play with dichotomies of between organic and contrived materiality through imbrications of indexical content. A heavy drip of a glaze that indexes gravity and the weight of its own melting physicality, the swell of a form that indexes internal pressures, or the fracturing of a surface that indexes violent expansions or contractions become frozen phenomena theatrically flaunting an object’s materiality to the eye or to the hand and generating narratives, metaphors, and raw sensations of a somewhat dissonant, ambiguous, neutral, yet titillating character. This is where I find discrete objects to be most exciting: as events embodied and personalities personified in physical form with an immense capacity for simultaneity, ambiguity, and mutability, often oscillating between the abstract, the expressive, the functional, and the performative. In addition to being an avid maker, I am also a practicing art historian and scholar focused on modern and contemporary American and Japanese ceramics.