Zhanna Martin, sculptural ceramic portraits

I portray people’s emotions, expressions, and human nature through clay. Through clay busts, I evoke the human experience of smugness, carelessness, drunkenness, joy, sadness, melancholy, or sullenness, and shape them into caricatures. My intention is for the observer to find humor in my work, while recognizing the truth of the emotions expressed. To me, emotions are what makes us human, and facial expressions are the voices of those emotions. I use clay to express my observations on the basic humanistic qualities that surround me and that surround us all. I was born and raised in the cold harshness of Siberia, and daughter of a Russian exile. As a child, in cold winter nights I would immerse myself in some type of art project whether a painting, drawing, making dolls, or knitting, I found therapy in art, loving all types.

After finishing college and majoring in Architecture I moved to United States. It all seems good until I was laid off in 2008 while pregnant with my second child. I was devastated, but then I thought back on all the hardships I had been through in Russia, and how as a child I would turn to my art to create beauty.

I took ceramic classes in nearby art center, and I found faces just started popping out my hands. I just loved this new substance, and the way it allowed all these emotions to flow through my fingers and create wonderful snapshots of human expression. My work focuses on the emotions that make us all human. And for as much as I enjoy creating these facial expressions in clay, I also enjoy seeing the emotions and expressions brought out in people when they see my work for the first time. Especially laughter. I love it when one of my sculptures makes someone laugh.
Zhanna Martin
May 13, 2015

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