I am an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin Stout studying Studio Art Ceramics. I make functional wheel thrown pottery.
Clay talks back to me when I work with it. It records every mark I make and draws references to the human body with its broad shoulders, thin waists, fat butts, thick lips and feet. I am a very tactile learner, it helps me to touch, to feel, to hold, and to experience the things that I want to learn about. I am drawn to ceramics for this reason. It is an art that one can develop a relationship with, that one can use and experience unlike any other form of art. Ceramic art is very intimate in this way, not only can one see it, but one brings it to one’s lips, touch it, feel it, and experience it. I love the conversation this invites the user to have with the pot as they use it, and the relationship that this conversation allows the user to build with it.
America is so industrial that few people find value in hand made objects anymore. As a culture, we value quantity over quality. The industrial revolution has made us lose sight in the value of the handmade object. I think that it fills the soul to use handmade objects, using industrial made products puts us into a routine of non-observant habits because everything is made the same. I believe that using handmade objects causes the user to become more aware of the objects being used. I want people to use my pieces on a daily basis so that this relationship between user, maker, and piece can grow and become stronger I want my work to be visually stimulating and have enough variation in surface to keep the user interested in every side of the piece. Functional ceramic art is meant to be used and I want my audience to honor that. My work should have a presence in one’s hand when holding it but, should not be so heavy that when one picks it up they think it is heavy.
I am drawn to the hard ledges and edges found in natural snow drifts, the peaks and valleys of mountains, curls in waves, and natural ice dams. I work a lot with slip, a more liquified, creamy version of the porcelain I use. This comes from my love for snowboarding and wakeboarding. There is something so natural for me about spreading the slip on the skeletal structure of a pot. It is like I am carving through twelve inches of fresh powder, or the glassy water of a calm summer day. I try to translate the luscious snowdrifts, hard flowing lines of the mountains, and the beautiful natural curve of waves into my work through the porcelain slip I use. This gives my pots a more gestural skin while still maintaining the more controlled and tighter style of throwing that I have. I use this slip to frame or accentuate the volume in my pots. I like the contrast between the naturally gestural slip and the tightly thrown form. The slip adds just enough gesture to the structure of the pot to keep one interested while the un-slipped parts give the eye a place to rest and my glazes a place to run and flow together. I use fairly runny wood ash glazes that pool on the slip lines to help naturally emphasize them. The pooling glaze also mimics the slip lines that are already there adding another layer of complexity to my work. I use these glazes because they resemble the colors found in a sunset on a warm summer night.
Fake Soda firing my work adds a sort of control I would not normally have while soda firing. Sprinkling soda ash onto my pots before firing them instead of spraying soda ash into the kiln gives me the control of where I want the soda ash on the pot and how much soda ash is on each pot. This allows me to control how much variation I have in the surface of my pieces because I want each piece to be engaging from every angle to keep the viewer or user interested in it.