Maddy Inez Leeser: Damp Earth

May 22 - June 26, 2021

1819 3rd Ave

Harkawik is thrilled to announce “Maddy Inez Leeser: Damp Earth,” the artist’s first show with the gallery. In a series of new vessels, representational forms, fountains and mosaics, Leeser offers an alternative scale and pace, one more closely aligned with the movements of mollusks, plants, and creatures that crawl and slide along the earth, than with the frenetic clip of today’s human world. Glazed with dazzling palladium, her vessels explore the spiritual, ecological and and artifactual modalities of clay, and a new ceramic, “Shelley Pokey,” offers a playful meditation on shelter, sensuality, the natural world, and our uncertain place within it. Leeser’s extraordinary facility for her chosen medium is most fully displayed in the corporeal form of a new large-scale fountain, a multi-terraced entity whose shrugging pose supports a pair of shackled chalices that catch, then release, an untold quantity of water. Part menhir, part totem, it is above all a timepiece, telling us to to approach slowly and with the delicate compassion that is so thoroughly evident in all she touches.



Maddy Leeser is a Los Angeles based artist working in ceramics. She is also an educator, animal caretaker, committed family member, daughter and grand- daughter, faith keeper, investigator, magical practitioner, witness and friend.

The subsequent writing intends to bring forth certain important words, key concepts, and thought-ways that illuminate and exist within the affective realm of Leeser’s latest body of work:

Damp Earth,
That is: Potential.
— worked with, coerced,
Finer, closer:
Asked, listened to, acted with — certainly upon.
Asked to represent the true shape of hard-won loves
that come easy — like the wind — but similarly
can be mistaken for nuisance
madness or noise;
are instead the natural miracle
of a quiet constant order that abides at the heart of disorder.

Fired, baked, de-wetted to become Testament, Symbol, Record.

this process, of allowing earth to take the shape of the desires of the past then sealing this achievement (always fleeting, just one corner) with heat and mineral is the making of a votive:

an object offered in the fulfillment of a vow.


Did you know?

becomes here, Prepare for wonder.

       this pile of loose threads, all blue.
A slug, a friends knowledge, magic, the curl of a shell,
make an organic, casual grid that supports gentle movement. Meaning is allowed, given the space, to present its wet head
from out the whole gathering of leaves —
small facts about the Mantis, a resonance caught from a hardened pile, the inexplicable arranged and from the arising sense of their camaraderie made sensible.

It is particularly american to believe we exist without precedent. to believe ancestry is handicap.

How much more powerful to move with the arms of the past, with old bones and knowings, with eyes that do the double work of seeing what is and what was seen before. In this way one is always prepared for, by wonder. In this way, guided by voices, one can act in chorus.

Silent intense contemplation (the eyes over the pile at the flea or thrift is the magic work of assembling identity anew again from what history has to offer. here, the world’s images refined to the smaller infinity of the family’s world, leafed through, held up, turned like sucking stones and offered back to the mud the pots, like slugs from their holes, emerge.

Ghosts, resonances, lessons: fashionably avoided, here carefully allowed entrance. Given lattice, or curly-cue to grow upon, to take their character from all the better to produce fruit upon — the fairy-tale glistens. These wet bodies and arms and networks are a respect, a care, and an understanding of timeline: that which comes before becomes the the earth from which the present sprouts: look close and memory (like the foam) has left its mark, seeds have their own will and will grow different in the divet of a hip than the mound of a back’s small.

Here, friendly objects with soul (presence, aura) and the magic of approachability congregate. what designers call: “intuitive user interface”
what people call “love” — not a challenge, fearfully made to resist that ultimate threat: recognition.

Menace is not absent, those tendrils and structures that gird, sprout and support feats of scale and cracks and sheens.

Impressively, these made-molten and desiccated stones are cool, too, inviting but aloof: again, the sacred vessel.

Alien amphoras, graceful viral bodies, caged lanterns, submersible octopus hooks, vintage radio towers or microphones, competition hair pieces, multidimensional ladders — lacework lattices threat- eningly delicate (as is clay’s right) but with obvious strength, resis- tance, thickness, viscosity (somehow retained through the firing)

These pots and cages, and fountains and slugs
throw geometric superstructures like auras off and out,
remind us of old sayings, new poems; the human’s place in the world: to carefully consort with material and moisture and heat, to be the conduit that allows for the world and its patterns
to reveal themselves again with joy and terror.

-Jacob Sorkin