In early 2017 President Donald J. Trump suggested that there were “bad hombres” along the border and has continued to suggest he would build a wall to divide Mexico from the United States. His pronunciation of the spanish word hombre, which simply means “man”, sounded more like ombré, which means a gradual blend of one color to another. In many ways, ombré is a much more rich understanding of the borderlands. Along the U.S. – Mexico border, there is not clear distinction between Mexico and the United States. There is a gradient of languages, cuisine, landscapes, and culture that is shared across the political boundary that defines the two countries.


The Bad Ombré series of ceramic vessels explores the nature of creating a single object from two different clay bodies, creating a gradient that spans both the entire object, but also a differential gradient within the single extrusion itself. Inspired by the landscape that spans the political divide, these objects celebrate the object and the individual extrusion of clay by liberating particular extrusions from the vessel, suggesting the material is defying gravity with petal-like extrusions of multiple clay bodies.


While the two materials have their distinct colors and qualities, they also blend together, erasing the distinctions and becoming a new clay body entirely — a clay body comprised of different geographic landscapes coming together in a single object.




Project Date: 2017
Project Location: San Francisco, CA
Project Team: Ronald Rael, Virginia San Fratello, Phirak Suon.
Project Information: Thanks to Ehren Tool and The Department of Art Practice at The University of California Berkeley, Autodesk, 3D Potter.