Forrest Sincoff Gard + Jeni Hansen Gard

Artist Statement

Forest Sincoff Gard


“At some point as we get older, we are made to feel guilty for playing. We are told that it is unproductive, a waste of time, even sinful. The play that remains is, like league sports, mostly very organized, rigid, and competitive. We strive to always be productive, and if an activity doesn’t teach us a skill, make us money, or get on the boss’s good side, then we feel we should not be doing it. Sometimes the sheer demands of daily living seem to rob us of the ability to play.” -Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute of Play


Legally, I have been an adult for over a decade. During that time, I have experienced (more than once) the feeling of having too many tasks and not enough hours in the day to accomplish them. When this happens, a switch inside of me is flipped and I am unable to have fun and I stop playing. As Brown asserts, our culture actually makes us feel guilty for the times we are not being productive. As children, we are encouraged to play, our parents arrange play dates, and we develop physically and emotionally through play. I am interested in the carry over from child’s play to adult play and am curious why some adults stop playing while others continue. My research focuses on games and play psychology, while challenging long standing expectations for the art gallery.


My interactive installations aim to promote engagement through physical, emotional, and intellectual stimulation by providing gallery visitors (the majority of which are adults) with the taboo experience of play in a space that is not designed for or encouraging of it. This shift in the traditional gallery experience allows the viewer to interact with a ceramic object in a new way. My work allows people an opportunity to briefly escape their realities; a feeling that is often foreign to many adults in today’s culture.


As I continue to develop my research and art practice I aim to expand on the growing definition of Socially Engaged Craft specifically as it relates to the ceramic arts. I am interested in further researching the gallery as a site to engage people of all ages as well as the creative act as play into itself.


Jeni Hansen Gard


As a Socially-Engaged Craft artist, I use the ceramic vessel to explore our ecological relationship with plants as food through growing, cooking, eating, and sharing meals. Using craft as a premise, my work draws on a critical understanding of human relationships and the merger between art and life. I design civic projects that focus on the meal, personal food choices, food as a form of communication, and the ceramic vessel as a transmitter and artifact. Using an object-based process in the ceramic arts, and a community-based, socially-engaged art practice I make functional objects intended for use in everyday life and orchestrate the parameters surrounding their use by engaging participants. This human involvement is what distinguishes my work from traditional pottery and brings it into the sphere of Socially-Engaged Craft. 

My studio work is a consideration of form, function, pattern, and color of the ceramic vessel. My work exists as physical objects as well as social projects in which the vessel serves as a catalyst in creating a food dialogue. I am attempting to turn viewers into active participants by inviting them to become users, and thus extending the value of the individual object outward toward the community. The individualized design of these handmade objects, even within sets, is a way to focus people on a specific experience and to create mindfulness in eating. There is value added in both the aesthetic of handmade dishes, the experience of eating in this format, and the benefits visually, socially, and nutritionally of making certain choices. Through use, the vessel has the ability to elevate the food we consume and asks the viewers to reconsider what they eat, who they eat with, what they eat from, and how food affects our bodies. After use the vessel remains imprinted in our memory as a carrier of stories. Even after use, the vessel remains as an artifact and carrier of memory and story.