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Simone Bodmer Turner & Emma Kohlmann

Interview by Fiona Le Brun
Photography by Alexander Rotondo

In the heart of last winter, when confinement made even the most prolific artists hungry for inspiration, sculptor Simone Bodmer-Turner and painter Emma Kohlmann dreamed up a playful collaboration. The two friends imagined applying Emma’s vibrant mythology and otherworldliness onto the monochromatic, architectural forms of Simone’s Permanent Collection—a collectible line of chalk-white vases designed for minimal floral arranging or to stand on their own as sculptural objects.

From this creative dialogue stemmed the idea for a new, ongoing project Bodmer-Turner named the annual Illustrated Permanent Collection. Each year, the ceramicist would provide an artist outside her medium with her line of ceramic vases as a canvas for three-dimensional creative expression.

A couple of days ago, the inaugural capsule collection was launched, made of 38 ceramic vases adorned with Kohlmann’s colorful, delightfully strange illustrations. Hand-painted in both Bodmer-Turner’s Brooklyn studio and Kohlmann’s studio in Western Massachusetts, each vessel features embracing figurines, mythical forms, and botanical motifs colorfully portrayed across the white stoneware surface. The whimsical imagery was fired in Bodmer-Turner’s studio kiln and finished in a glossy glaze.

This project is also a chance to give back to the communities hit the hardest by the pandemic, since proceeds from every annual collaboration will benefit a charity of the artist’s choice. For this first collection, Kohlmann chose the South Bronx Mutual Aid, a community-led and run organization critical in getting supplies, food, equity, and support needed to the people in the New York neighborhood she grew up in.

This capsule collection was met with great support and acclaim: all pieces have sold in just a couple of days, showing how much community-focused initiatives resonate in these difficult times. We look forward to discovering next year’s collaboration with a new take on Bodmer-Turner’s iconic pieces.

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