For years I have honed my skills working as a painter, printmaker, and sometimes as a sculptor. However, I have fallen in love with ceramics and that is my primary focus at this time. I have not abanded my prior disciplines, I brought them into my present clay work. The surfaces of my pieces are now my new canvas, woodblocks, or paper, covered with designs, abstractions, landscapes, birds, and portraits.
Philosophically, I find myself inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement. I appreciate the styles of the period, but what intrigues me most about the movement is the idea that craft and beauty can make a difference in this Post-Industrial Age (and in its own time, the Industrial Age). Times are different, but the problems and issues are the same. Instead of mass-produced wood and metal goods, we have our unaesthetic plastics and electronics.
Much of what we use daily is cheap but aesthetically empty. It serves a function, allows us to eat or drink something, store stuff, shelter us, or act as a distraction on a wall. I want to make things that are beautiful to hold, touch, and see. To do this, I need to make ceramic wares that connect the user’s unique experiences but also keep the cost low enough so people can afford to have them. I intend to make appealing things that people can afford.
How I got to ceramics
I stumbled into ceramics. In the past, I exhibited my artwork as a painter, printmaker, or drawer. I also worked with performance and installation artists but I usually kept to my lane as a painter and/or designer and collaborated on the conceptual aspects of the work.
In 2007, I was asked to teach Visual Arts by a high school for special education students. I happily took the offer. The Art room was essentially a ceramics/sculpture studio. It was furnished with a slop sink with a water filtration system, three wheels, an electric kiln, drying racks, and plenty of tools used for ceramics and sculpture.
So, I took the job knowing full well I needed to relearn how to use clay. I taught myself how to fire the kiln, throw pots, trim, and glaze, as well as do slab, coil, and pinch techniques. I introduced my students to modeling and reduction methods and gave them short geology and history lessons on the topic. Each time a student wanted to try something I was not familiar with, I would learn a new process so they could experience it. Not surprisingly, creating and using ceramics turned out to be a therapeutic experience for many of my students. Eventually, along with my students, I too was hooked and I started to take my work in the craft seriously.
The utilitarian side of clay has moved me, at the same time I am still inspired to create images for my work using the techniques of my primary disciplines of painting, printmaking, and sculpture through underglazing, sgraffito, etching, reduction, and modeling.
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