2016 Emerging Artist Tom Jaszczak

2016 Emerging Artist Tom Jaszczak

Tom Jaszczak – Artist Interview

 

What is the biggest change in your work or life since your emerging artist talk?

I don’t know that I have made a major change in my work since my emerging artist talk.  Things just keep rolling forward right now, I would like to make a momentous change soon and have ideas that I am putting on the back burner.  Right now, and probably for the first time in my life, my family is in the driver’s seat and my work is second.  I have a one year old and am looking to buy a house/studio.  So, the most important thing is setting the three of us up to succeed since we live off the sales of my pottery.  I have made a lot of new bisque mold trays, some drape molded pots, a new white and black surface, a few new surface solutions like using a vinyl cutter to cut shapes and for some reason I have gotten back to making teapots.

 

How would you describe yourself? How would your friends/family describe you?

I am steady, determined and have a dark sense of humor.  My wife would probably say I am steady, willful, maybe stubborn and most important to our relationship is to be funny/goofy.

 

When were you first introduced to ceramics and by whom?

I was lucky enough to get an education in MN where public school generally has a lot to offer.  Including having a high school teacher who predominantly taught ceramics, Jon Holtz. He was a Randy Johnston student and I took all the ceramics electives offered in school.  We also were fortunate to take field trips to the Northern Clay Center, the Weisman, Walker and Minneapolis Institute of Art.  These places all were informative, especially NCC. Later I would take ceramics as an elective in college and slowly it willed me into pursuing it full time.

 

What do you listen to while you work?

I listen to music, podcasts and sports.  The podcasts I enjoy most are Bill Maher, Democracy Now, Ear hustle and anything Radiolab produces.  My favorite thing to have on in the studio is any Minnesota sports team, I love sports in the studio.  There is nothing better when I need to work late then a baseball game, a beer and a few pots to trim.  I wish I was a better music fan, but I tend to just let pandora do the choosing.  I just don’t have time do research all the things I wish I could.

 

What kind of creative patterns, routine or rituals do you have?

For being a self-employed artist, I am very routine oriented.  On a day to day basis I tend to work 8am to 8pm and I use a making list to give myself goals and fill the kiln efficiently.  I have developed a making cycle where I have wet working days for the first 15 days of the month.  I bisque, decorate, glaze, fire and clean pots the second half of the month.  Whatever time is left at the end of the month is my free time (usually 2-5 days).  This seems to be the right amount of time to leave me wanting more of all parts of the process and allows for two kiln loads of work.

 

What informs your work?

A lot of things.  I share a studio with my wife (Maggie Jaszczak) and that is always informing my work. We steal ideas from each other frequently.  Last year I started looking at minimal tattoos and that has come into play.  A lot of graphics come into my work intuitively. Contemporary potters that inform my work are Mark Pharis, Michael Simon, Randy Johnston and Lucie Rie.  I have mostly focused on contemporary pottery and have not dug into historical pots.  One reason is I had such great pottery around me in Minnesota to handle it had to make its way into my work.  It also works for me to be ignorant, I don’t spend much time looking on social media or in books.  It keeps me feeling my work is authentic and there is still so much to inform me with those pots.

http://tomjaszczak.com

2016 Emerging Artist Sean O’Connell

2016 Emerging Artist Sean O’Connell

Sean O’Connell – Artist Interview

 

How would you describe yourself?

I would say that I am inquisitive, detail obsessed, and a bit of a control-freak, but also easy-going with most other things . . . and I try as hard as I can to be an engaged, conscientious human-being.

 

When were you first introduced to ceramics and by whom?

I was in my Junior year at the Kansas City Art Institute in the sculpture program and had decided to enroll in the ceramics elective course taught by an artist named Karl McDade. I recollect barley passing Karl’s class with a low ‘C’, but the feel and process of the material stuck with me. In my Senior year I opted to do an independent study in the Ceramics Dept. with Cary Esser and was supported in my decision by my Sculpture Prof. Jim Leedy. Those events were the beginning of my ceramics career, but the thing that really solidified my continued interest in ceramics was after I’d finished undergrad and had taken up a work-exchange for the KC Clay Guild . . mopping floors in exchange for studio space. I spent a year there working and learning and becoming enamored with making functional pottery. After so many years in school and focusing on conceptual art, I was mentally exhausted and found making pots to be the perfect remedy . . . I believe at the time I thought, “oh . . . this is so much easier than making sculpture.”. Of course, that was a naïve and uninformed perception of pottery at the time, however that led to many years of intense investigation. Over time my interest deepened, the nuances of pottery forms began to take on more meaning and context and I began to recognize the complexities and challenges of making functional pottery.

 

Who are your ceramic influences?

I look at and study ceramic traditions form all over the world, but some specific examples of historical ceramics include 8th-12thcen. Islamic pottery, as well as Japanese, Korean, and Early American ceramic traditions. I am intensely interested in “Cross-Road” cultures . . those that have been at the intersections of great empires’ trade routes and conflicts.

There are also so many wonderful modern & contemporary ceramic artists that I find influential: Jun Kaneko, Ron Nagle, Akio Takamori, Julia Galloway, Robert Turner, Linda Christianson, Bruce Cochran, Rosanjin Kitaoji, to name a few, but also my peers . . . the people I work with and whose work I experience daily.

 

Who are your personal mentors?

I would consider Julia Galloway to be a personal mentor. She was my professor during Graduate School and really took me under her wing. Julia opened a lot of doors for me over the years too; either through her direct advocacy or through the many lessons I learned in her presence. To this day, Julia and I stay in touch and see each other fairly frequently. I continue to rely on her as someone who I can bounce ideas off of, get professional advice, or just lean on a little when things aren’t so great in my life.

I would also like to mention Rick Hirsch, he was one of my other graduate professors and really opened my eyes to the importance of having a personal philosophy to guide ones’ decisions as an artist. He believes in standards and an uncompromising commitment to making . . . this lesson has taken longer to sink-in, but I think its been one of the more important lessons I’ve learned over time.

 

What does “being creative” mean to you?

‘Diligence’ I suppose . . . I don’t have a lot of faith in the idea that creativity is the product of inherent talent as much as I believe one’s creativity, like anything else is learned and strengthened through use . . . the 10,000 hour rule definitely applies! So ‘being creative’ for me is about flexing those muscles by going and working in my studio day after day. It can be a very slow uphill battle sometimes, and other times it flows freely.

 

Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating was something you absolutely had to do?

I don’t think I frame it in terms of “have to do” . . at least not strictly in terms of being a ceramic artist. As I was growing up in my late teens and into adult-hood I felt like I brushed past numerous potential creative professional career paths. I’ve had a long-time interest in culinary arts as well as music. In all honesty, I went to art school as an undergrad cause I didn’t know what else to do and a good friend of mine was going to the Kansas City Art Institute. It turned out to be a good choice, but I’m not convinced it was the only choice I could’ve made.

 

What kind of creative patterns, routine or rituals do you have?

I’m not one for ritual, but I definitely have a rhythm to my studio practice. It is largely a result of the tension between my desire for downtime and the necessities of deadlines. I will make work furiously for a month or two, exhaust myself and then take too much time off before the next deadline and have to scramble all over again. I don’t think its laziness or lack of motivation on my part, its just that I really cherish my free-time and like to do a lot of things outside of the studio . .  . Knitting, hiking, painting, creative research, etc. this is in addition to all of the other normal day-to-day things that can get pushed aside until they pile up and need to be dealt with . . . paying bills, responding to emails, updating my website, house-hold chores, taking care of my health, etc.

On the more positive and proactive side of things, I suppose I have a few patterns that exist to help my work grow and change over time. In every round of studio work I make new pieces with new patterns, these don’t always make it out to the world, but they fuel change and new ideas. I also have a longer-term pattern of making some major changes to my work every 5+ years or so . . I’m currently on the cusp of one of these changes. They generally include a switch in clay body, firing temp and atmosphere, as well as decorative motifs. However there is a sensibility that runs through each body of work, connecting it to the whole over a period of time.

 

Which other creative medium would you like to pursue?

As I mentioned I have a lot of interest in Culinary art and music. However, I prefer that they remain non-professional endeavors. I think that way they are a creative refuge and don’t become stressful or tedious the way my day-to-day ceramics job can. I also do a decent amount of painting and drawing . . . though the amount of time I have to commit to 2-D work fluctuates a lot during the year. I think the painting has some very direct correlations to my surface work on pottery, and of course, cooking goes hand-in-hand with pots and tableware.

 

How do you know when you have found the appropriate way to express, investigate or explore a specific narrative?

I follow my nose . . . meaning my intuition. This can be re-enforced with feedback from peers about ‘what is’, or, ‘is not’ working in a piece, but as the authors of our own work, we are responsible for that final edit, or that final addition. Trial and error is the simultaneous enemy and ally of the artist. I don’t know of any other way of arriving at a conclusion than failing multiple times to reach that conclusion and refine the approach, or idea, or the process needed to get there. And ‘there’ is different for everyone . . . there’s no universal formula or recipe for a successful piece of art. A good analogy is the image of a horizon . . . the edge of the horizon is the desired artistic/aesthetic/creative solution. Of course . . as you approach, it always recedes . . so a final answer or solution is an illusion, but there’s a lot to discover between you and the horizon.

 

What informs your work?

As mentioned earlier I look at a lot of historical ceramic work, but I also find its useful to look outside of the field and find sources that can inform your work without becoming self-referential (as in the case of making pots and only looking at pots to make those pots) Fiber art is a huge source of inspiration for me, specifically Japanese, African, and central Asian fiber traditions. I also look at architecture and its relationship to table-top forms as well as natural phenomena like mountains, valleys, and how can these concepts all interweave or inform one another. Listening to music gives me a sense of emotional content to what I make . . for instance, I ask myself the question, “what does that song look like if it were solid?” “How would be come form?” These questions are not meant to necessarily bring about a concrete facsimile in any of my pots, but simply to understand what the content of an object is beyond its superficial appearances.

 

What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be creative?

Originality is only a by-product of long hours of copying, digesting, and investigating the links between what we love and what we make.

 

What do you hope to impart to other emerging or “pre-emerging” artists?

Don’t be in a rush to achieve notoriety. I think its ok to have that as one of your goals, but if its is a focus too early in your career you can easily get stuck in a career rut where you will be reluctant to take risks or step away from formulaic solutions.

 

What do you listen to while you work?

Music: Pretty eclectic  . ..  indie, world music, blues, jazz, just about anything . .  also podcasts.  . particularly History podcasts (I particularly like Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History)

 

How do you know when a piece you are working on is “done”?

mmmm . . . sometimes I have a really clear agenda, as in the case of making multiples with a pattern/deco that I’m familiar with . .. other times when I’m working in less-explored territory I suppose I have a developed sense of intuitive reflexes . . for instance ..  ‘it looks right” is a common thing I will tell myself to indicate its done. Or, sometimes I’m wrong and I go too far or not far enough. That’s not always evident at the time either . ..  that assessment can come after a day out of the studio, after a firing, or even years later!

 

Tell us something about yourself that most people do not already know

I began my art/craft career as an apprenticed silversmith. I worked in jewelry and metals for three years prior to starting my BFA in sculpture.

 

http://seanoconnellpottery.com

 

2017 Emerging Artist Brooks Oliver

2017 Emerging Artist Brooks Oliver

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.

http://brooksoliver.com

2018 Emerging Artist Sara Parent-Ramos

2018 Emerging Artist Sara Parent-Ramos

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.”

 

 

https://www.saraparentramos.com

2018 Emerging Artist Natalia Arbelaez

2018 Emerging Artist Natalia Arbelaez

Natalia Arbelaez – Art as Language

“Creating artwork has been important to me from a young age. I came back to the US at the age of four not speaking English and communication was hard for me. I learned English and forgot Spanish at a young age but relearned it later in life. I haven’t ever really felt completely comfortable with either language, art has always been the most natural form of communication for me. There are never any wrong answers in making art. I clung on to art from a young age because art was whatever I thought it to be.

I found clay in high school and kept taking classes in college. I was always interested in using figures and clay made the process so effortless. The body was an extension of communication for me and I used it as a storyteller. While in undergrad I took refuge in the sculpture department, tucked away from the main campus and run by sculptor Ralph Buckley, a “grumpy old man” who valued hard work. Buckley was tough, and I remember him almost making me cry one of the first classes. But he was the figure sculpture instructor and I was determined to work through it. I was a hard worker and it didn’t take Buckley long to recognize it. Once I was trusted, he gave me my own space and the freedom to experiment however I wanted. I casted multiple dead animals, set fire to a cohort of life sized paper figures, and created larger than life clay figures to melt away with the Florida rain. I stayed in the program well after I doubled the amount of college credits needed to graduate, knowing that I had to get my portfolio just right to make sure I could go to graduate school on a full ride. It payed off and I was awarded an enrichment fellowship at the Ohio State University. I moved away, and sadly Buckley unexpectedly passed away a couple years after. I never got to see him again or the chance to truly thank him.

When I moved to Columbus, OH from Miami I experienced a big culture shock. While feeling personal loss in graduate school, I started making work about culture and heritage and how they are lost and gained. I also started researching pre-Columbian work and religious aesthetics from Latin America. These influences are still very prevalent in my work and I continue to reference them. Learning to research and use my research to make has been an important asset to my work. It’s been hard researching Latin American histories as a lot of this information isn’t easily accessible and has been left out or portrayed in a negative light. I find it important to continue to educate myself of the histories that I have missed out on and I feel incredibly privileged that I will have the opportunity to continue my research as a resident artist at Harvard University’s ceramic program, Office of the Arts. There, I will have access to Harvard’s many libraries and collections of pre-Columbian artifacts. I hope through my work I can share my information and bring attention to the need for accessibility of these historical resources to people of colonized histories.”

 

 

http://nataliaarbelaez.com

 

2018 Emerging Artist Janet Macpherson

2018 Emerging Artist Janet Macpherson

Janet Macpherson – Finding her voice as an artist

“A friend who was a sculpture major first introduced me to ceramics while we were at university. I was not an art major, but I hung out with the artists at school. She had an exhibition of functional vessels that she made, and I loved that she talked about them as art objects and that their utility did not take away from their importance – in fact it added another layer to their significance. I decided to take a course in wheel throwing at a community college in Toronto, and then took as many as they offered.

I enrolled in the Crafts and Design Program at Sheridan College shortly after that, and this is where my true ceramics education began under the instruction of Canadian ceramic artists and potters Bruce Cochrane, Winn Burke, and Tony Clennell as well as Dale Pereira, and Susan Lowbeer who became my mentors.

My early influences were ceramic artists who used personal narrative in their work such as Anne Kraus, Sergei Isupov, Shary Boyle and Matthew Metz, and I began to develop my own narrative language using images that referenced my Catholic upbringing, my childhood and adolescence. I began to think about the Christian iconography I was surrounded by in my youth, and also started doing research into Catholic saints, relics and reliquaries, illuminated manuscripts and more recently medieval bestiaries.

My creative impulse comes from a desire to tell stories and express myself through drawing and sculpture. I want to create objects that allow others to experience a sense of wonder by looking into a different world. I hope that it allows them an opportunity to reflect on their own personal story, and offer insight into mine. As a child, I loved drawing and making, and creating narratives. I am still drawn to these things today, and I feel fortunate that I am able to work in my studio most days, doing the things that have always felt natural to me.

I try to get to my studio as often as I can, and even though I don’t always have strong ideas of what I would like to make, the ritual of going to the studio and starting to explore materials is what starts the creative process in motion. The most important advice that I was given as an emerging artist, and advice that I would give to anyone starting their career in ceramics, is to go to the studio and work with the materials even if you are not feeling inspired. Often ideas are simply generated by the process, and new and interesting things happen as you work. I mostly make my work from plaster molds and I often begin my day by casting several different forms and then experimenting with different ways to combine them, creating an array of hybrid porcelain creatures. My artist statement below gives more insight into what currently informs my work.

Hybrids present us with two things happening simultaneously. They are in flux, one always alluding to and challenging the other. The borders between humans and animals, the manufactured and the natural, the spiritual and the visceral are distinct yet permeable, illustrating differences while creating spaces for wonder and uncertainty.

Influenced by my Catholic upbringing, I investigate hybridity within the context of Christian ideology, examining an array of sources from the margins of illuminated manuscripts, lives of saints and martyrs to the depictions of medieval monsters. The work has also been inspired by visits to the Ohio State Agricultural Fair, where farm animals were clothed in protective fabrics, tethered tightly to posts, awaiting exhibition and judging.

Using molds cast from found toy animals, hunting decoys and religious statues, I dismantle and re-compose these objects to create forms that subtly reveal a discomforting reality. Animal heads and bodies are interchanged, vegetation grows in peculiar places, and faces are masked and obscured. Wrapping forms in damp porcelain sheets – binding, bandaging the figures, contemplating the intentions of these gestures, I examine the boundaries between devotion and coercion, pleasure and pain, animal impulse and domesticity.

Being a part of the 2018 NCECA Emerging Artists has been an incomparable experience. I was given the opportunity to exhibit my work at a new venue, and was able to engage with many people who were interested in my work, as well as some who have collected it in the past. The opportunity to discuss contemporary issues in ceramics during our panel discussion was a really important aspect of the experience. The highlight was being able to present my work and artistic development in a short talk to a group of enthusiastic makers from so many different backgrounds and levels of ceramic experience. I would tell any emerging ceramic artist to apply for this opportunity – it is truly remarkable to a be a part of this unique, inclusive and amazing community.”

 

 

 

 

www.janetmacpherson.com