“In the world of everything that is already made, the moment of reinvention consists of taking apart something that is known, to reconstruct something that is unknown.”
Bobby Tso’s approach to forms in the post-industrial world is both whimsical and sophisticated. His curiosity is delightful and child-like. His level of intensity and skill are awe inspiring. I had as much fun watching his peers view his work in Kansas City as I did in getting to know him. His masterful arrangement of mixed media forms makes even the clay crowd stop and wonder.
Bobby Tso was born and raised in Hong Kong. He decided to come to the USA at the age of 17 to explore the culture while earning his BFA in ceramics in 2009 at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri. He went on to earn his MA and MFA in Dimensional Practice, with focus in ceramics, metal smithing and jewelry at the University of Iowa In Iowa City.
He’s recently served as instructor, lecturer and exhibiting artist in universities and galleries across the US. He was a summer resident and instructor at the Archie Bray Foundation in 2015 and was featured at NCECA’s 2016 conference as an emerging artist.
His recent work is concentrated on form and develops out of his curiosity about relationships that exist between objects. He has also forged strong foundations through his relationships with his students and his mentors.
On teaching, Tso relates, “I believe the most important techniques I teach in all classes are [for students to be able to] journalize their thought [process] and sketch to record their ideas. By teaching my students basic techniques, I encourage [them] to re-invent what is invented and connect techniques to create conceptual expression.”
Mr.Tso is currently Assistant Professor of Art -Ceramics, in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville. His web page can be found at http://www.bobbytso.com/. I had the pleasure of interviewing him this week.
What’s new for you since 2016 NCECA? Any new ideas or directions?
KPT- I wanted to change a little bit of my work. In addition to expanding working in mixed media, I am exploring the idea of the conversation we can have (as clay artists) with other artists. I was able to go to Arrowmont [where I] had some great conversations with artists [working] in other mediums, which is great!
I also have been working on a CNC, machining clay, which is old news in the auto industry, but I think is new in the field of ceramic art. I will have a few pieces that have parts that were done with this new process in a show called “Slice” [curated] by Chris Dufala (see note below).
Given the recent changes in political climate and immigration policies, are you concerned about your ability to remain in the US for the foreseeable future?
KPT- Yeah I am glad I am still here in the state and working as a professor. It has been great. I’ve been focussed and working hard to promo my school, showing off my BFAs’ work as a good professor would do, and working on some exciting new things!
Slice can be viewed during NCECA at: Siteworks (S) 240 SE 2nd Ave., Portland, OR, 503-230-2337, siteworksportland.com, Hours during NCECA: Mon-Sat
10am-6pm. Reception: Fri, Mar 24, 6-9pm.
View Bobby’s Presentation at the 2016 NCECA Conference here: