Max Lehman was born in Fort Knox Kentucky and grew up in Phoenix Arizona. Max has lived in New Mexico for 26 years and currently lives in the village of Nambé, just north of Santa Fe. Max attended college at Arizona State University in the 1980s, majoring in Digital Media Arts while also studying Pre-Columbian Art History. Max’s knowledge of ceramics came by practical experience. He apprenticed at the F&R Pottery Studio in Cave Creek Arizona while attending ASU. Later he went on to work for the Red Horse Clay Company in Mesa Arizona, managing the production studio and designing images for their line of southwestern interior accessories. Max ‘s teaching experience includes the Summer Ceramic Workshop at Otterbein University in Westerville Ohio classes at Santa Fe Community College, and Santa Fe Clay in New Mexico.
Max’s work is included in notable collections including, Diane and Sandy Besser, Midge and Jerry Golner, David and Sara Lieberman and the Arizona State University Museum Ceramics Research Center.
• The Narrative Figure, Santa fe Clay, Santa Fe NM
• Mélange à Clay curated by Joe Bova Andrews Gallery at William and Mary University, Williamsburg VA January
• ¡Orale! The Kings and Queens of Cool Harwood Museum, Taos NM September
• 50 From 6 Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery, Southern Utah University, Cedar City UT
• Figure It Museum of Craft, Columbus OH
• Ecumene: Global Interface in American Ceramics in conjunction with the 45th General Assembly of the International Academy of Ceramics. Hosted by Santa Fe Community College School of Art and Design’s Visual Arts Gallery August
• The Illusculptors Group Show of Illustrated Ceramic Sculpture presented by Ferrin Gallery Sofa Chicago IL, November
• TEAPOTS: Interpretations Ferrin Gallery, Pittsfield MA July
• The Trouble With Boys and Girls Four Person Show Hosted by NCECA Curated by Jason Huff,Mesa Arts Center, Mesa AZ
Selected professional engagements
• Yuma Art Symposium, Yuma AZ
• Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards, Columbus OH
• Curator, Masquerade, National Mask Invitational, Fuller Lodge Art Center, Los Alamos NM
• Master of Ceremonies, FUZE.SW Food+Folklore Festival, Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe NM
Skeletons are a recurring theme in my work.
It is true that my skulls and skeletons are fashioned after art from the Mexican Dia de los Muertos and pre-Columbian civilization, but I am also drawing on images from Buddhist cave paintings and other ancient societies.
This is my reaction to representations of skulls and skeletons in pop culture and how they are used in street art such as graffiti or murals, tattoos, and as they appear in music and fashion. Skulls seem to be endemic across the world and interpretations are as numerous as there are people, everybody has their own idea of what a skull represents.
My work has always been primarily about imaginary worlds. In this current series, I am using skulls as platforms to represent those worlds. These are representations of parallel dimensions, distant planets, strange lands or make-believe cityscapes. Birds, reptiles, and insects are the inhabitants of these worlds. Sometimes I think that these are the societies that arise after our own civilization has been destroyed by environmental collapse.
I feel like I am taking an archetypal image (the skull) something that’s supposed to be scary, roll it in sugar put some whipped cream and a cherry on top and viola. It’s now a sugary sweet, candy-coated sort of death. It’s the spoon full of sugar that helps the reality go down. These are the places I go in my daydreams that are the source of my imagination.
The work shown here comprises many traditional ceramic techniques.
Pieces begin by having clay rolled into large slabs using a device created for this purpose.
There are also extrusions, and a variety of drape molds involved. Early on the clay is quite wet and cannot support its own weight. But as the drying proceeds the clay goes through a series of “dryness” that allows for manipulation.
Leather hard is a state where the clay is still malleable but also strong enough to support structure. During this state construction can take place and the clay is able to support additions and attachments. The clay can actually be worked up to some very dry states. Some attachments to a given piece are done through a system of pegging with wire. Wire can also be used for detail work where the clay might be too fragile.
After firing, my pieces are painted entirely black. From here the surfaces are built up from layer upon layer of translucent and opaque paints. Washes are also applied; some surfaces can have dozens of layers to achieve very deep colors. After the primary surface is achieved, painting in the details emphasizes the various elements of the piece.