Interview with Kimberly Cook - Artist of the month, May 2012

ARTIST OF THE MONTH, May 2012: Kimberly Cook

/ Read the full interview in Ceramics Now - Issue Two

Ceramics Now Magazine
: Do you remember your first encounter with ceramics? What made you choose this particular way of expressing yourself?

Kimberly Cook: My first encounter with ceramics was when I was a child. During my family’s summer holiday, my parents would take my sister and I on a very long drive from Texas to Ohio, to visit my father’s family. I remember being so excited when we arrived in Ohio, because it meant that I was going to be able to visit my aunt Coby’s ceramic studio. She had an incredible ceramic studio set up in her basement, where she taught workshops. I remember loving the smell of the wet clay, being surrounded by an endless array of colorful glazes, china paints, gold, silver, and pearl lusters, and tools that enabled her students to create anything they wanted out of this wondrous natural material that was easy to form and smelled sweetly of the earth. I was enthralled with the medium, and wanted to learn the techniques of creating both my own sculptural and functional forms.

Another vivid childhood memory of being exposed to ceramics was seeing the traveling King Tut exhibit. I was drawn to the ceramic Bes deity pots and their use in the home as a protector of women and children. For the first time, even in mynaiveté, I realized that there could exist a “conceptual” aspect to creating these forms. What also intrigued me were the marl ceramics of the second Naqada period, which were decorated with reddish-brown drawings that developed from the early geometric forms to less abstract images. Among some of my favorite are those that depicted oared boats transporting what has been interpreted as deities, and the decorations that included people and animals.

Working in clay has become a cathartic way of expressing myself, and because of this, I will never stop using it as my primary mode of self-expression. From these early childhood memories and tangible encounters, I found a palpable love of ceramic materials, which sustain me to this day.

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Kimberly Cook Contemporary Ceramics - Interview for Ceramics Now Magazine

Trophy, 2011, Ceramic, mason stain, gold luster, 35” x 23” x 20” - View her works

Your works are figurative and often have a narrative quality. But trying to convey a certain message without using words can be difficult for an artist. Do you sometimes fear that people will fail to understand the meaning of your works? How outspoken should a work of art be?

I use to be concerned that viewers would fail to understand my work, but not anymore. After your work has been censored and removed from a gallery, you start to understand that that is actually a compliment. You have struck a nerve; a message got across to a viewer, understood or misunderstood, doesn’t matter. What created that shift in thought for me was the fact that I realized that everyone is going to have their own experience viewing my work, their own perception, and their own opinions. I am okay with that – to me that is what good art is about. If it moves someone, great; if it disturbs someone, great – I want my work to encourage people to go inside of themselves and ponder and reflect before reaching any hard and fast conclusions.
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Interview with Steve Belz - Artist of the month, April 2012

ARTIST OF THE MONTH, April 2012: Steve Belz

/ Read the full interview in Ceramics Now - Issue Two

Ceramics Now Magazine
: You are strengthening your career as a ceramic artist year by year. What was your first contact with ceramics and when did you realize you have a passion for it?

I took a ceramics class in my junior year in college, and that changed my world instantly. I was constantly in the studio. I had worked with wood and metal prior to clay, but it was amazing to find one material that possesses the qualities of many materials. Throughout its various stages, clay is plastic at first, then flexible and strong like wood, then hard like steel. This is over simplified, but basically I love the metamorphic qualities of clay. It is an incredible material that twenty years later, I am still very passionate about.

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Steve Belz Contemporary Ceramics
Assisted Nucleation, 2011, Low fire ceramic, washes, glaze, rubber cord and steel fastener, 20H x 30W x 10D inches - View his works

What is the most difficult part in constructing a new piece? Tell us about your creative process, from sketches to the final display.

I usually work on multiple pieces at one time, so that they feed off of each other as a series. My work is often an amalgamation of forms and details from mostly natural objects and landscapes. I have a lot of natural objects and photographs around my studio. I use these details as a starting point for the forms and surfaces that I create, often manipulating the scale or color of the details that I am interested in. 

I often start by sketching in a notebook to quickly work through ideas, then I move to a large chalkboard for some full scale sketching. My sketches are often covered in words that inform the themes I am working on. Once I can visualize the form I want to create I move on to construction, my favorite part.

The most difficult part of constructing my larger work is managing the appropriate humidity. I allow certain areas to dry enough so that they have strength to support the form, while other areas are wet enough so that I can continue adding more clay. All of this happens while maintaining a smooth gradation of humidity between those areas to avoid cracks. I spend several weeks working on one piece, often jumping between other pieces while I wait for one to dry enough.

I rarely build my work in the position that it will rest. This does two things. It makes it easier to move the piece around to work on it and it keeps the orientation of the object open until the end of the building process. I can have most of the form completed and then cut and dart areas to modify the form. Once the main form is completed I smooth and refine the surface. This step is very meditative for me. It has a rhythm and fluidity that I enjoy.

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Interview with Carol Gouthro - Artist of the month, May 2011

Interview with ceramic artist Carol Gouthro - Artist of the month, May 2011

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Ceramics Now MagazineIn what techniques do you usually work and what materials do you use?

Carol GouthroAll my work is made using clay and fired ceramic glazes and  materials. I am a bit of a purist about this in my own work. I love ceramic materials and surfaces and do not feel the need to use cold finishes. I enjoy mixing my own glazes and running glaze tests to get the resulting fired surfaces I seek. I love Terracotta clay, the color and the feel of the clay, and that is the primary clay body I use. Color is important to me in my work and I combine  both commercially bought materials, underglazes and glazes and  my own studio mixed  slips and glazes to get the results I want.

I have two bodies of work that I make.
The first is my on going explorations in sculpture and vessel forms. These are one of a kind and always evolving. In this work I use many different techniques combining handbuilding, slip casting and wheel throwing to get the forms I want. I make a lot of slip cast  molds from found objects ,usually objects that I have some kind of emotional response to. I often manipulate the resulting forms making 2nd and 3rd generation molds. I also throw and  handbuild forms and make press molds for future use. That way when I start working on pieces I have an inventory  of shapes at my disposal. My visual library.

The second body of work I make is a line of dinnerware and accompanying serving pieces that I produce and sell exclusively out of my studio.

This line consists of dinner plates, salad and dessert plates, shallow bowl, deep bowls, tumblers, and cups and saucers. For the dinnerware I throw all the original forms and then make slipcast molds  and pour the pieces in Terrecotta. They are painted by hand with underglazes and fired with clear glaze. The large bowls, and platters are press molded and finished the same way as the other dinnerware. These pieces are my production line and I do not change the designs very often  unlike my sculptural one of a kind  work. I make all this myself, I do not have assistants.


Aurlia Barnacles - View her works

Where do you get your inspiration for your pieces and what motivates you to do a good job ?

The inspiration for my work comes from several sources. Ceramic vessels, Ornamentalism, plants forms and other natural forms, childhood artifacts.

I have always studied historical ceramic vessels  ever since my university days. Some of my favorites are Persian Luster ware, Italian Renaissance majolica, Tang Dynasty Terrecotta, Japanese Oribe ware, Victorian Majolica, and  Noritake Art Deco Lusterware. Color , pattern ,and texture are essential components in my work and I have always been drawn to very ornamental historical pieces , palace pots of all kinds.

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