"Lija's Tears," 2013
Glazed terra cotta, laminated glass, monofilament, epoxy
96 x 15 x 15 in.
"Morning Blue," 2013
Glazed terra cotta, lightbulbs, varying hardware
Variable size
"Autumn Leaves," 2013
Glazed ceramic
108 x 24 x 24 in.
"Afro-Caribbean," 2011
Glazed ceramic, paper, gouache
30 x 30 x 48 in.
"Tori for Fukushima," 2011
Glazed terra cotta and tin 108 x 36 x 36 in.
"Today's Bliss," 2010
Glazed porcelain, luster, gold
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These architectural ceramic works, which I refer to as my Column of Tears series, is derived from a Byzantine column located in the cistern of Istanbul.

When I first saw the column in 2001, the experience triggered within me an emotional response, but it wasn't until I saw my aunt in Prague in 2004 during a rainstorm and subsequent power outage that I knew I must work with these forms. My obsession with tears originated in childhood, and I believe it is connected to a disjointed family history with roots in politics and culture; it was revived during this visit to Prague.


My tears flowed nonstop, and it seemed that the natural world set the stage for this body of work that is both personal and public.     

In ancient Greek architecture each column represents a specific person or state; in my work each column represents a specific emotional response to a political event, personal experience, or memory.

The capital of the column establishes context while the drops form the flutes of the column; the base grounds the sculpture.

Clay drops, initially representing tears, have taken the form of other materials, including oil, blood, sweat, buds, pods--the essence of Man and nature, heaven and hell.

Some of the pieces are more like chandeliers or mobiles, but I still refer to them as columns because they are based in that foundation.


Each drop is individually created by hand--no molds are used; other objects are also used to inform the work.

I use a variety of clay, glaze, and overglaze to bring life to these ceramic pieces.

© 2016 by Olivia Beens

Email: oliviabeens@gmail.com

Photo Credits:

Sherman Sussman

Regina Cherry

Chris Bolton

Seth Rubin

Peteris Krumins