Bradley Klem caught his first fish when he was three years old, marking the beginning of a life-long concern for water, wildlife, and conservation. Today, his art addresses the influence of man on the environment, focusing on the impact of our pollution.
He has been a resident artist at the Archie Bray Foundation, the Mesa Arts Center, and Project Art 01026 and his work is in the collection at the Mesa Contemporary Art Museum. He has spoken at the Office for the Arts at Harvard University, Iowa University, Western New Mexico University, and NCECA in Kansas City.
He attended Arizona State University, earning a BA degree in art studies, focusing on both painting and ceramic studio art, and in 2018 he received an MFA from Penn State University. While in graduate school, he was presented with the Harold F. Martin Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Award and the Creative Achievement Award. He continues to teach at Penn State in his current role as a faculty member.
Our planet is changing forever and for everyone. My work addresses the influence of man on the environment, focusing on the impact of our pollution. The ceramic material provides a rich historical and cultural context to draw on. Ceramic works come in many different forms and from a broad variety of cultures, locations, and origins. It is deeply connected to who we are. Equally as diverse in form and source of origin, though lacking in historical significance, is the plastic garbage that we make today. I utilize the familiarity and historical context of ceramic vessels combined with contemporary imagery of man’s impact on the environment. The pot behaves as a Trojan horse infiltrating the domestic space, carrying conversations of our planetary disposition.
The work is graphic and vibrant, luring the viewer in. The contextual shift and combination of these everyday items of plastic waste with ceramic forms create cognitive dissonance. It invokes the question, “why is this trash beautiful?” Through this question, I challenge the viewer to consider their own experiences with plastic pollution. To see historical forms that are canonizing our relationship to plastics in a ceramic history brings a sense of urgency to our climates crisis. Do we want our recorded history to consist of the destruction of our planet’s natural wonder? Or can we inspire collective activism preventing the natural wonders that used to decorate our ceramic objects from being replaced by plastics altogether? These are the pots of the Anthropocene.