Jackie Sandro is a ceramic artist with a sense of humor. “I guess my personality comes out in my work,” she says. “And I tend to be a little sarcastic.” Even though it sometimes goes towards dark and edgy – it’s often presented with a whimsical twist. “I love making it quirky,” she says.
One recent example: in Three Amigos her triptych of male torsos, one of the men represented has a head made of barbed-wire. Perched atop it, a beanie propeller.
“The propeller says he’s fun to be with, he’s endearing, he’s got a great personality. But his head is barbed wire. Approach with caution!”
It’s precisely the kind of juxtaposition that makes her work compelling. “I often find myself creating awkward proportions and precarious balance. It’s most successful when it looks like it’s about to fall. I like it when it’s unsettling.”
Recently she has been experimenting with motifs inspired by medieval armor and the intricacies of its embellishment and hardware. “I’m fascinated by the armor we all use to protect our vulnerable parts.”
An MFA graduate of Tyler School of Art, Sandro is a full-time artist and teacher. She runs the Cumberland Community College Clay College in Millville where she is in charge of credit and non-credit college ceramics courses, workshops and children’s programs.
I have always been interested in figure as narrative. The figure, both male and female, serves as a visual journal for my imagery. The challenge and intrigue is communicating my stories and emotions using surface quality, graphic images, patterns, form, and color.
Most recently I have looked to interpreting my childhood memories of being the granddaughter of a plant farmer in southern New Jersey. The object that resonates in my memory is the basket- a basic basket used in the peach orchards and fields to collect the fruits and vegetables grown by my grandfather. The entire family was involved in the growing and harvest, including the young wives newly married to strong and handsome Italian men who were the sons of my grandparents. The narrative is about these women, my mother, my aunt, my grandmother and myself. It is about these women whose lives were changed by marrying into a strict hardworking Catholic family under the rule of a mother-in-law (my grandmother) who wasn’t always kind to the wives of her sons. That is why my figures are called Brides or Madonnas. The figures are built with the basket form in mind. Beautiful and visually delicate, this uncomplicated structure has the ability to carry and haul great weight with ease and strength. The basket has become the perfect object to symbolize the female role models in my life.
Another strong figurative influence in my work is armor. Armor has both aesthetic qualities and practical qualities that inspire my work. It is beautiful as well as protective. The concept of armor can be used metaphorically to reflect a person’s exterior, personality, nature, and internal battles.
The pieces are hand built using clay slabs and coils. Slips, underglazes, terra-sigilatta, and stains are used to paint the piece. It is then fired to cone 05. After the first firing I glaze the piece and fire it a second time. I also use materials that do not need to be fired, such as acrylic paint, pencil and found objects.