Brooks Oliver – Artist Interview
How would you describe yourself?
I hope they would say I was funny. I think they would most likely say that I was a very passionate and friendly person with an ability to relate to people.
When were you first introduced to ceramics and by whom?
I was first introduced to ceramics in high school by my high school teacher, Raymond Ochs, who I still talk to regularly. Raymond first “gave me the ceramics bug”, but I really discovered my passion for ceramics in college at Southern Methodist University with Peter Beasecker. Peter was the person who gave me the courage to switch my majors from Mechanical Engineering (that I studied for 3 years) to ceramics. I am forever grateful to Peter for giving me the confidence and courage to do that as it changed my life in countless ways.
What are your influences? Who are your mentors?
I am so extremely lucky to have such amazing mentors! They are Peter Beasecker, Shannon Goff, Tom Lauerman, Chris Staley, Liz Quackenbush, and Klein Rieds. My biggest influences are Anish Kapoor and contemporary furniture and accessory designs.
What does “being creative” mean to you?
Creativity in my mind is the ability to play, taking risks, and not being afraid to fail.
What kind of creative patterns, routine or rituals do you have?
I am a creature of habit. I rely on my process to guide me and help me play. Chis Staley always used to say that “process saves us from the poverty of our intentions” and I full heartily believe that. I fall into my routine within my studio, and I find comfort in that routine. Once I am comfortable, I start taking risks and start playing – and that’s when the fun starts. I find that this usually happens late at night after a full day. In regards to routines, I only wear sandals in the studio and ALWAYS have music playing in the studio which often leads to dancing as nothing makes me more confident than dancing.
What else are you interested in outside of your studio practice?
Growing up as an amateur magician since adolescence I have always been fascinated by illusions and love when the eye is tricked and the mind is boggled. I have identified three crucial aspects to creating a successful illusion; to make the viewer question their assumptions, to construct a context around how the viewer perceives what is happening, and to generate a moment where belief is suspended. Like a parlor magician in a tuxedo or an illusionist on stage with a bedazzled cape with flashy lights, within my studio work, I set a stage and construct contexts around my forms. While they often tend to lean towards the dressy tuxedo side, my forms are often displayed in ways that provoke further inquiry regarding their performance and the anticipated environments where they are intended to reside.
Please tell us more about your artwork:
I use the universality and familiarity of the ceramic vessel as a means to approach the work, however I frequently attempt to alter the viewer’s preconceived notions of the vessel by disrupting and challenging expected functionality or by creating a conscious function. Just as a magician performing a magic trick, I ask the viewer to reinterpret the familiar and question their assumptions through forms that present multiple inquiries regarding their use. I want the viewer to examine various aspects of the vessel’s utility and question would I use this; when would I use this; how would I use this, and for what occasions? I strive to evoke ideas of functionality in my forms that frequently can be put to multiple uses, with some ambiguity as to which use is preferred. While not meant for everyday use, but rather special presentation and show, many of my works can be used functionally or simply maintain elegance as sculptural works.
Sara Parent-Ramos: Being An Emerging Artist
“My work originates out of a cyclical process of accumulation and synthesis. I make sense of information first by arranging the objects I create and then assigning them a meaning through organization. I then obscure the categories I have created through recombination, which enables me to endlessly play with the objects’ associative meanings. I take pleasure in the transition from reduction to synthesis and back again. This journey enables me to appreciate the micro and macro simultaneously, reaching an intuitive understanding of the whole work as well as its component parts.
I am also interested in creating visual and physical manifestations of the rules, scaffolds and supports that underpin human existence. I see a direct allegorical relationship between the intimate scenarios I create and the biological, social and psychological processes that are the invisible scaffolding supporting human functioning.
Being an NCECA Emerging Artist has been an amazing and energizing experience, a time of personal artistic reflection and connection with others. I feel so fortunate to have had mentors in the field of ceramics who have shared their thoughts and time over the years. These mentors not only have provided feedback on my work and process, they have helped me navigate life as an artist, and have been my advocates. Thank you to Alice Robrish, Syd Carpenter, Kukuli Velarde, Richard Burkett, Joanne Hayakawa and Anne Currier. A particular shout out to Andrea Gill, who has encouraged and prodded in equal measure and provided feedback on the intricacies of being a women, mother and artist.
I have been asked to share the best advice I have been given about how to be creative. Here it is: being an artist is a marathon not a sprint. Be excited by what you are doing. Find/create community.”
Student Director-at-Large Ashlyn Pope reflects on her experience…
“I wanted to become a Student Director at Large for NCECA for two reasons. I wanted to be a voice for students and I also wanted to represent a population of artists that don’t get much voice and visibility in the arts and the world. As an African American woman, I believe that my voice could be useful in choosing programming that can inspire, engage and motivate artists of all cultural backgrounds and all professional levels.
The process of the application generally wasn’t too difficult until I discovered I had to make a video. I am not the kind of person who likes being in videos as I barely like having photos taken of myself. I knew that the video had to be completed so had to come up with a creative way to approach this aspect. The process gave me a bit of insight into how volunteering for the board would be as it takes stepping out of your comfort zone in order to make something tangible.
The application process wasn’t my last step before the results of votes casted would be announced, at least for me it wasn’t. I made sure to go around the conference and introduce myself to as many people as I could. I thought it was important to have people interact with a human being and not simply a screen. I also used that time to encourage many to vote, letting them know that their voices count and they should let them be heard.”
Student Director-at-Large Brandon Schnur reflects on his past experience….
“I first approached the Student Director at Large position wanting to bring my personal perspective as a student to the forefront, to make a significant impact on the student programming and advocate more for the students place at NCECA. I was pleasantly surprised at the immediate embrace and equality I received, with my voice heard and considered as much as anyone else (to think, I expected resistance). Even in my first year, helping to cement the expansion of the NCECA Juried Student Exhibition to welcome international students, I knew what I would gain from the position was so much more than what I could bring to it solely.
In a grand scope, it has given me the opportunity and the privilege to work alongside some of my idols and in a more personal way I participated in life changing conversations with people that I would have never interacted with otherwise. The Student Director position has created lasting relationships and gave me a sense of purpose among the larger ceramics community. I have received more for this position than I ever expected to, and I hope that I have helped the students of NCECA as much as they have helped me.”
Deadline for Application for SDAL October 10, 2018
For more information wisit the NCECA wesbite
A Student Director at Large….what do you do?
- -Serve NCECA’s membership by advocating for student concerns.
- -Promote calls for student programming and critique room.
- -Provide support and guidance for the NCECA Juried Student Exhibition (NJSE) in concert with the Exhibitions Director including the following: Identifies qualified jurors, solicits donations of awards, represents NCECA and presents awards at the NSJE reception, provides support to the venue as needed.
- -Coordinate student initiatives and programming by reviewing proposals, presenter and critique mentor qualifications.
- -Provide scheduling data pertaining to student programming to the Conference Manager for inclusion on NCECA website, app, and program guide.
- -Serve as one of the Student Fellowship jurors in the selection of awardees.
Student Directors at Large shall serve as advocates for student concerns and shall coordinate student initiatives and programming. Student Directors at Large shall organize the NCECA Juried Student Exhibition under the guidance of the Exhibitions Director.
Nominate someone for an Award or Honor at NCECA this year:
Fellows of the Council
Excellance in Teaching Award
Outstanding Achievement Award
The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts has advanced the stature and quality of our field by recognizing select individuals for their service, teaching, creative achievement and/ or extraordinary accomplishments through awards of excellence in ceramic art and education.
Nominations are now open for NCECA Fellows, Honors, Excellence in Teaching and Outstanding Achievement Awards. Nomination requirements and descriptions of the qualifications for these awards follow can be found on the NCECA website listed under Awards and Honors
We stand on the sholders of giants – nominate today
Deadline, October 10, 2018
2018 Honors and Awards images above: Honorary Members: Clayton Bailey, Edward Egerle, Jo Laria, Bill Strickland. Fellow of the Council: Deb Bedwell. Outstanding Achievement Award: Bill Griffith, Les Manning, Sana Musasama, Ray Meeker and Deborah Smith. Excellence in Teaching Award: Nicholas Kripal, Kirk Mangus and Eva Kwong, Judith Schwartz
Apply to be Director-at-Large!
Russell Wrankle reflects on his experience…..
“At the time of applying to the board, I was on a steep professional learning curve. I was just getting comfortable with teaching and taking some risks in the classroom, I was learning the politics of academia and doing a lot of fundraising. It was a real growth time for me. So I thought I should pile on the discomfort and apply to the Board. My first NCECA was Minneapolis and I’ve been to many since. More than anything, it’s the relationships that I have developed over the years by attending NCECA that are the most meaningful. And the relationships are amplified as a board member. Working closely with the board I have learned so much about the inner working of NCECA and how much thought, consideration, and effort goes into making the organization one that serves a diverse population. The board cares deeply about NCECA and it’s nice that I could be a part of a board who actively put the organization above personal ego.
And as the DAL (Director-At-Large) over the Gallery Expo, I have had the opportunity to get to know the gallerists and their artists. The Expo has the potential to be overly competitive since there’s money involved, but everyone is so generous with each other. My view is that all boats rise with the tide and I’d say that the galleries agree. Many of these relationships with the galleries will last me a lifetime. I’m honored to know people that operate with such integrity. Maybe I have blinders on, but I truly believe most folks involved with NCECA have the greater good in mind. And I’m glad to be part of it.
One other thing, the collective intelligence of the board is awe inspiring. It’s been a challenge to keep up. Talk about discomfort, I’ve never been more pleasantly uncomfortable in my life. I’m glad to be going off the board, but I will also miss the hell out of it.”
For more information about the Director-at-Large positions visit the NCECA website Board Nominations Page
Deadline to apply, October 10. Questions about Board Nominations? please email email@example.com