Artist and Ceramicist, Los Angeles, CA
BZippy & Company is a design line by artist Bari Ziperstein, made by hand in Glassell Park, CA in North East Los Angeles. The collections are inspired by the rich ceramic history of Southern California including the Funk Movement and Joe Soldate, Ziperstein's antique collecting roots of Chicago, Finnish patterns, California weather, and Joshua Tree National Park.
Q: Since we didn't get to meet your son Lawrence during the studio visit, tell us a little bit about him and his awesomeness.
A: He’s a wide-eyed 13 month old firecracker with wispy light brown / red curls who is extremely active, curious, and social – a perfect combination of my aerospace engineer husband and I. He’s getting a full dose of art and design with our weekend walks to LACMA nearly every weekend – it’s four blocks from our home and as it turns out the best neighborhood park of green space. He’s becoming a little boy, who holds my hand while walking down the street and loves to play in the Cali sand.
Q: Has having Lawrence impacted/ influenced your work at all?
A: Mainly in terms of time – as a full time working mom the workday is shortened significantly but at the same time one just becomes very efficient. Having a child helped me clear the deck in terms of how to run my business where ambitions become more narrowed in, risks are more strategic, relationships get stronger, and plans become more solid. Having the ability to support my family is important to me, brings a sense of grounding to my practice.
Q: You've been doing fine art for quite a while and only started doing more functional ceramics more recently. At this point in your career do you feel like these two parts of your practice are in conflict or help to inform one another?
A: Yes, I graduated from CalArts with an MFA in 2004 – showing in galleries, public art, and museums since then. But three years ago really made a go at having a dual practice of fine art and a design line under BZIPPY. As full time sculpture Professor jobs dried up, I developed an alterative source of income with BZIPPY after teaching since 2006 in the University of California system.
On paper these dual practices seem to be in conflict with each other – one more researched, singular and rigorous and the other more about form, function, and open editions. But they all come out of one studio – where there is no way they couldn’t influence each other from glaze experiments, kiln processes, various clay bodies, and silhouettes. I’m working towards a solo fine art exhibition which has taken me much longer to realize than previously shows, frustrating as it might be the ideas are there just carving out that time has been obviously challenging between having a small child, running a design business, teaching, wife, and all the other identities I wear.
"Having a child helped me clear the deck in terms of how to run my business where ambitions become more narrowed in, risks are more strategic, relationships get stronger, and plans become more solid. Having the ability to support my family is important to me, brings a sense of grounding to my practice."
Q: Terra cotta is such a great material, with a really amazing history, but it's so often relegated to the standard pots that you can get at every hardware store. What made you decide to start working with it?
A: It’s that stark red / pinkish color and raw surface that drew me to terracotta. I love the overlooked and banal association – makes it feel less precious to work with as it’s a low fire clay with often only one firing. A lot less working time than my usual Cone 10 gas fired works that take over a week plus to fire.
Q: What are your plans for the next year and what are you most excited about?
A: Currently I have a ceramics show up at Dream Collective and am traveling to NY to debut smalls at Capsule. I’m traveling to Tokyo this Winter for a group show of Women in Craft at Curator’s Cube which is run by the beautiful store Playmountain Tokyo. There I’ll debut about 30 new works in Tokyo for the first time. There's also a Group Ceramic show at Lawson-Fenning in LA and a solo fine art show at 5 Car Garage with Emma Gray this Spring – based on my Cold War research at the Wende Museum.