Sokolovic studied in the former Yugoslavia at the School of Architecture, University of Sarajevo/University of Belgrade from 1989 to 1993. After immigrating to Canada, she attended Emily Carr University, receiving her BFA in 2000. In 2009, she was awarded the Winifred Shantz Award for Ceramics. O’Connell received a BS from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1999, and an MFA in Ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2009.
He studied at Chiang Mai University in Thailand from 1997 to 1998 and held a Fulbright Scholarship there from 2000 to 2001. From 2004 to 2007, he was the design director and co-founder of Mei Design Co. in Jingdezhen, China. Sokolovic and O’Connell met at a residency in Denmark in 2008 and immediately began to work together. In 2009, they founded a creative studio in Vancouver known as Dear Human, which works across a number of media and domains including public space projects, product design and applied arts. In 2011, they were artists-in-residence at Medalta, and in 2013, they undertook a self-directed research project on ceramic tiles in Lisbon, Portugal. While both have a background in ceramics, they have built on their approach to working with clay to encompass additional materials and opportunities.
Their work has been featured nationally and internationally in design events, journals, blog sites and radio programs. Projects include Finders/Keepers (2011), in which 300 hand-made heart-shaped ceramic magnets were dispersed around Granville Island, to be treasured or gifted by those who found them; Dinner with Neighbors (2012), an installation of hand-printed retro factory blanks celebrating local food traditions, commissioned by the Vancity Credit Union in South Burnaby; Patchworked in Canada (2014), staged in several Canadian cities using vintage ceramic tiles displayed in unexpected locations; Wallpapering (2014), in which recycled paper was formed into tiles and printed, painted and interspersed with handmade ceramic tiles to create colourful wall designs; and Re-Mapping An Island (2014), a mural commissioned by Vancity mapping the two islands that comprise the city of Richmond.Many projects invite public participation in the form of finding and photo-documenting the dispersed objects, or they call attention to local cultural traditions to establish a bond with the community. Combining O’Connell’s material knowledge and attention to detail with Sokolovic’s improvisational sensibility, Dear Human draws inspiration from new environments, new materials and collaborating with artists, designers and architects.
In their talk for the North-West Ceramics Foundation, Sokolovic and O’Connell will discuss their design philosophy, projects and migration towards an entirely collaborative practice. The lecture will take place Thursday, February 19, 2015, at 7:30 in Room 245 in the North Building of Emily Carr University. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.
For more on Jasna Sokolovic, Noel O’Connell and Dear Human, please see their website at Dear Human.