Welcome, NCECA Blog readers, to what I am certain is going to become one of MY favourite regular columns here on the NCECA blog. I was recently inspired by the Kansas City Ballet Company’s blog, on which I read articles about some of my favourite dancers. I enjoyed getting to know more about them, so I thought maybe some of you might like to know a bit more about your NCECA board members. We’re going to kick off this column with one of our fabulous onsite liaisons for the upcoming Kansas City Conference. It’s hard to believe that in just 6 1/2 months, we will all be gathering together in the center of the United States for our 50th annual meeting. So I was glad to catch Paul Donnelly for a moment or two before the whirlwind that his life is about to become really picks up….
Where do you currently live/work
I am currently a studio potter that resides in Kansas City. I teach at the Kansas City Art Institute, working with students interested in the vessel.
What do you like most about your job? OR What do you like most about where you live?
One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is watching young talent develop and grow into future makers and educators. I love the social aspect of teaching, discussing and understanding different viewpoints.
Where did you grow up?
What was your childhood nickname?
How did you first find out about NCECA?
I first found out about NCECA when it was in Philadelphia in 1992. I was on spring break visiting my family and I just happened to be in Old City, a section of town with a lot of galleries that were hosting exhibitions during the conference. I remember being blown away with much of the work, experiencing and seeing things that I had never considered.
Tell me a story about your first conference (including city and/or year)
The first conference that I attended was in 1999 in Columbus OH. I remember being introduced to Walter McConnell’s ceramic installations and meeting Paul Soldner.
What’s your favourite color?
I don’t really have a favorite color but am fond of specific color combinations. Red and orange. Brown and blue, olive and orange.
What or who inspired you to get involved more deeply in the organization, and what was your “entry point” to the board
Deb Bedwell, current president, inspired me/convinced me to be involved with NCECA as one of the onsite liaisons. Being involved has allowed me to give back to the ceramics community in a way that I couldn’t before. It has also made me more connected with my own city, its thriving art scene and the individuals who care so much about creative environments.
Describe your position with NCECA
My Position with NCECA is to be a conduit connecting what happens in the host region to the organization and vice versa. I have worked to help brand and promote NCECA to the local community, organized fundraising initiatives and worked to find venues for exhibitions throughout the region. Additionally, I have worked with board members to pick conference programming to help make the 50th anniversary conference a memorable one.
What’s your favourite thing about being on the board?
Seeing how ideas come together and watching the programing for each conference take shape, it’s a really interesting process with great input from a lot of smart and insightful individuals.
What’s your favorite part of your specific position?
So far it has been working to organize exhibition programming to help shape the brand of the conference.
Who are some of your mentors, and how have they shaped you as a person/artist? (both in and out of the organization/field)
Obviously, my mother and father as they have taught me how to work hard and have a sense of humor. John Matthews who was my middle school and high school art teacher mentored me through a really tough time in my life as I was trying to find direction after undergraduate school, I don’t think I would be where I am today without his guidance. Brad Johnson was a huge mentor to me as I was learning how to become a studio potter. Finally, my dear sweetheart Rain Harris has easily been the most consistent and supportive Mentor in my adult career.
Tell me about your work as an artist.
I am interested in functional pottery because of its long history and close proximity to humankind. Through use and display, pots will impart meaning that will change during the user’s relationship with the work. The objects we interact with on a daily basis can conjure experiences in our lives often becoming an article of sentiment. The pieces that I produce are inspired by both architectural and natural settings. I intend to exploit the beauty of ceramic materials as a means to draw comparisons to these ideas without replicating them directly or realistically. Most of the works that I make are created as systems to coordinate the manner in which the object operates by itself or within a larger arrangement of components. Investigation into design and function is a really important aspect of my practice. The works that I create are intended for a specific function or made for a particular purpose. I am interested in using a variety of forming techniques such as wheel throwing, hand-building, slip-casting in conjunction with 3d modeling to create work. Often times I utilize these techniques within the same piece as a means to blur the concepts and associations to individuality and mass production. I like finding a balance within my work where the evidence of the “hand” is at times present and other times fleeting yet all of the pieces speak of one of the potter’s greatest strengths…individuality.
What’s your favourite ice cream flavor?
Salty Caramel from Jenny’s Ice cream in Columbus OH
If you were a glaze, which one would you be and why?
What are a few of your hobbies?
Collecting furniture/art/household items….I am an avid craigslister