Object of the Week: Wild Ones and Zeroes by Jason Walker

Jason Walker grew up in Pocatello, Idaho and received his BFA from Utah State University and his MFA from Penn State University. After graduating, he taught in Napa, California for two years before resigning to become a full-time studio artist. For two years, Walker was an artist-in-residence at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts, where he received the Taunt Fellowship award. Since then, he has lectured, taught, worked, and exhibited all over the world, including at the Haystack Mountain School for the Crafts, the Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China, and the International Ceramics Workshop in Hungary, Ireland, and France. Walker’s work is inspired by the relationship between the advancement of technology and the environment and how this relationship molds our perceptions of nature. In his artist statement, Walker describes technology as “a major tenant shaping ideology. It alters the structure of our interests, it alters the structure of our symbols, and it alters the structure of our community.” He came to this realization while on a bicycle trip from Vancouver, Canada along the coast to Oregon, and then to his hometown in southeast Idaho. Using a bike rather than a car to traverse thousands of miles changed Walker’s perception of distance and time, proving that the tools we use directly affects our relationship with the world around us. Walker explores this idea through his ceramic sculpture, which combines animal forms with elements of the modern world. Wild Ones and Zeroes depicts a black bear standing atop colored toy blocks decorated with number ones and zeros. One side of the bear’s body illustrates a scenic mountainous landscape and the other presents an urban cityscape. In place of the bear’s tail, an oil cap projects from the bear’s hindquarters, perhaps a commentary on the oil industry’s negative effects on the environment. The colorful blocks give the sculpture an element of playfulness, while the ones and zeroes, which often represent binary code, might address how technology impacts nature.Wild Ones and Zeroes is currently on view in Key Figures: Representational Ceramics 1932-1972 through June 23, 2019.

-Kali Penoyer, Curatorial Intern

Jason Walker, Wild Ones and Zeroes, 2009, porcelain, 15 x 9 x 3½ inches, Everson Museum of Art; Gift of Ted Rowland, 2018.46