Susan Tunick’s Architectural Ceramics

Susan Tunick creates ceramic art informed by architectural ornament.

Her site-specific sculptures, mosaic murals and individual bricks and tiles reveal a penchant for scale and surface.  They’re intricately laced, lush in both texture and color, with a heightened awareness of edges, shadows and context.

On a 600-acre Vermont farm full of wildflowers, grasses, and pear, apple and plum orchards, she recently created Mt. Top Trio: Vert, Violet & Rouge. Three cedar sculptures, each clad in ceramic tile, now accent the landscape with colors from her palette.

She selected a new glazing method that allowed her to “build the colored surface from one firing to the next.” She said that staggering the glazing enabled her to watch the project blossom “the way a pointillist painting was created.”

She was inspired by haystacks found across the countryside.  “I didn’t want the shapes to be so symmetrical,” she said.  “I felt that adding curves and some type of opening in the center could work well. The tile bands reiterate the circular motion of the haystacks – around and around and around.”

Her smaller tiles and brick units explore dimension. Perforated tiles are layered to reveal surprising glimpses of patterns, with witty reminders urging the viewer both to inspect and respect what lies beneath the surface.

Tunick is current president of Friends of Terra Cotta, a preservation organization devoted to protecting historic and architectural ceramics.  She’s studied clay in architecture for more than 25 years and is invested in “seeing ceramics re-integrated into our environment…into landscape, interiors and the facades of new buildings.”

 For more on Susan Tunick, go to

 For more on Friends of Terra Cotta, go to

    – JoAnn Locktov

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