“Assembly Language” is a culmination of an exploration, through the medium of ceramics, in understanding complexity that arises through the interactions between simple components.

In the realm of computer science, the term “Assembly Language” refers to a low-level programming language for any programmable digital device. It is typically just one step above writing in the raw ones and zeros of binary. Every program at some point needs to be translated into assembly language so that it can be understood by the device, and every program that has ever been written for a digital device is essentially composed of a series of these simple assembly language instructions.

In this body of work, I use the metaphor of the role of assembly language in computer science to explore a similar process of breaking down complex systems into simple components and then using those simple components to construct new complex systems.

The starting point for this investigation is the design of a root component that would have common physical interface points with other instances of that component. My choice of a root component is a five-degree tapered column with a height that is four times the length of one of the sides of its largest hexagonal end. I created a synthetic phylogeny of the components used in the creation of works for this show. A component’s ancestor within this phylogeny is the one with the most influence on the revisions to create the new component.

All works created for this exploration are comprised solely of components that are ceramic instances of the components shown in the phylogeny. Each grouping highlights a novel interface between individual components joining together to form something more complex. Each work showcases a particular instance of this interfacing between instances of components to form a unique sculpture.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Ceramic sculpture--Themes, motives; Ceramic sculpture--Technique; Three-dimensional printing

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Ceramics (MFA)

Department, Program, or Center

School for American Crafts (CIAS)


Jane Shellenbarger

Advisor/Committee Member

Peter Pincus

Advisor/Committee Member

David Schnuckel


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes