Debra Fleury: Tidal (detail), 2011. Dark Stoneware, Porcelain, and glass.
Art should come from the heart of the artist, it should engage the audience, it should connect with the community, it should start a dialog, a debate. It should get people to look at things in a way they have not thought of, or to see what they have looked at but not really seen. Art has to come deeply from the artist, there has to be raw emotion and honesty in the work if it is to connect with people. An Artist paints and sculpts what they know. These are all the reasons I wanted to do a show about Alzheimer’s disease. To start a dialog, to connect, to get people to understand what it is like to have the disease, it is a part of my life, so it is what I know, what I am around. I took those thoughts and feelings and transformed them into visuals to engage my audience.
I speak through paint and clay. Art is a look inside the artist, what I am feeling is transferred into the clay while I am sculpting, Those feelings have to go somewhere. I wanted to tell a story, I wanted you to feel how it is, the frustrations, humor, the compassion and the heartache of having Alzheimer’s disease and for the ones caring for one with this disease.
William Faulkner said it best ~ The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it it moves again since it is life.
Cindy Billingsley: Panda, 2008, 25” x 28” x 15”, raku clay, hand built solid, hollowed for firing, low fired, cold finish acrylic and wax
“Through creating and teaching others how to make “Treepots” and “Tectonic Sculptures,” I have dedicated my artistic efforts in ceramics to exploring life and the irony of renewal through death. Trees are the primary subject of my work and human emergence is its’ theme. Through this creative work I engage the interrelationship between humanity and nature.
I focus on trees because I have a natural love of them from my youth. As a child I spent my summers with my brother roaming the woods of northern Illinois, and as an adolescent I spent them backpacking the forests of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Observing the tree excites my creative expression because it demonstrates the promise of renewal in the events of birth, the processes of aging, and the inevitability and promise of new life through death and decay. In this way life continuously takes on evolved and more beautiful forms through both creation and evolution. Both are proven simultaneously in the cycle of life. Evidence of this is shown most brilliantly to me in the life cycle of trees and I speak of it most effectively through my art in the medium of clay.” David Gilbaugh
David Gilbaugh: A Man At Ten, 2008, statuette, 4”(W) x 8”(H), hand-built coil, B-mix stoneware with grog, cone 10 reduction, Babu Porcelain, iron, rutile, and cobalt oxide stains
→ Subscribe to our monthly newsletter if you want to receive news and interviews with ceramic artists.
→ The full interview with Deborah Britt is featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two.
Ceramics Now Magazine: You are in this field for more than ten years now; when exactly did it all start? Tell us how you discovered the passion for ceramics.
Deborah Britt: My passion for ceramics came rather late. Having been born and raised on a farm in Northwest Missouri, far away from big city influences, exposure to the arts was minimal. Art classes in my small-town school were non-existent past grade school—with a student body of 60 students in grades 1 through 12, resources were focused on the practical skills and knowledge essential to a farming community.
My interest in the arts began in college, where I was first exposed to fine arts through an Art Appreciation course. After earning a degree in Business, and subsequently a Masters Degree, I was firmly entrenched in the corporate world. The spark that ignited my interest in art, however, continued to smolder, but it wasn’t until I witnessed a wheel-throwing demonstration at a local art fair that my desire to delve into clay became real. After 13 years in business, I returned to school with a whole-hearted desire to master the art and craft of clay, ultimately earning a BFA degree in Ceramics. I have never looked back.
Blue Pitcher Set, 8” x 13”, Wheel-Thrown and Altered, Salt-Fired Porcelain with Slip and Glaze Decoration, Cone Ten, 2011 - View Deborah Britt’s works
You are mostly creating pottery pieces. How would you explain your attraction for functional ceramics?
I was initially attracted to the wheel. Learning to throw basic utilitarian forms was a joy to me. The tactile sensation of wet clay is so seductive! However, there are some ideas that cannot be conveyed by functional pots, thus I also do sculptural work. I like the idea of making work that is approachable both on an intimate and intellectual level.
Making functional work appeals to the part of me that wants to connect personally with the user. I love the idea that the work will be handled, and I strive to make work that goes beyond the basic utilitarian form. In other words, I strive to make the work “special” for the user, in an effort to elevate the mundane, e.g., drinking a cup of tea, into the conscious enjoyment of the daily ritual, rather than a routine act.
I love to play with form, so even in my functional work I like to bring in a sculptural sensibility. The functional and sculptural forms play off each other—one idea leads to the next—so for me, the back and forth of sculptural vs. functional is essential.
—- The full interview will be featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two.
There is a remarkable touch of sensibility in your decorations. Tell us more about how you decorate and where do you get inspiration from.
I am intrigued by the fact that we as humans are so connected to the earth, from the food we eat to the ceramic cup we drink from. I am drawn to relatively matte surfaces, perhaps because of their tactile nature or maybe because of their relationship to nature itself.
I want the clay to look like clay, and have been drawn to the salt firing process because of the ability to let the beauty of the clay body speak for itself as it fuses with salt. The element of surprise that arises from firing to firing with the phenomenon of flashing and variation of salt distribution has always held great interest for me.
→ Subscribe to our monthly newsletter if you want to receive news and interviews with ceramic artists.
→ The full interview with Kathy Pallie will be featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two.
Ceramics Now Magazine: When and how did you discover the passion for ceramics?
Kathy Pallie: Growing up, I was always the artsy-craftsy one, making things out of all different kinds of materials, using lots of different techniques. I loved going to my Dad’s office in New York City where they produced display products/props used in retail store windows and interior displays. To me, it was a magical, fantasy industry.
Though I never had art classes in high school, I decided that art would be my major in college. As a first year art student, I was introduced to clay. I immediately loved the tactile sense of working with clay and creating 3-dimensional objects.
My interest in clay took a back seat to advertising design which was my major within the art curriculum. This was followed by a very exciting career in commercial art designing decorative and functional display products for the retail stores, exhibit world and point-of-purchase industries. Most of these products were 3-dimensional, large scale and fabricated from a variety of materials. It was always exciting and challenging to work with materials that had totally different commercial uses and to create products from them that were applicable to the display field. Much of this was done in foreign countries working with cottage industries, sometimes sitting on the ground outdoors with chickens and roosters strutting by.
Years later, when I retired and put my hands back into clay, I realized that this was a material that really excited and intrigued me, and one I had to explore in depth. I was hooked! My “clay play days” took over. Now instead of designing products that had to be marketable or meet a client’s design criteria, this was just me, the clay, and the creative process and didn’t need anyone else’s approval. I played with clay with a childlike approach, investigating, experimenting, and learning, as much and as fast as I could.
The 4 Elements – Earth, Wind, Fire, Water, Earthenware, glazes, 18”H x 14” Diameter, 2011 - View Kathy Pallie’s works
Tell us more about your creative process. Where do you get inspiration from and how do you find the journey towards the final outcome?
My inspiration comes from just living and observing and being receptive to what is going on around me. I’ve always been inspired by the unlimited variety of textures, patterns, and energy found in nature. I love to be outdoors skiing, hiking, swimming, watching the changing light patterns from dawn to sunset, seeing flowers bloom and leaves unfurl. I’ll often take photos for reference, pick up pieces of bark to experience the sensation of the surface texture, and closely observe different patterns and details. I interpret my reaction to these things in clay. Though many of my artworks have a trompe l’oeil effect, I am not trying to mimic Nature. Rather, I try to bring the essence of what I have experienced in the outdoors into interior spaces.
Once in the studio, the clay often seems to have a life of its own as it leads me, morphing from one form and concept to another. On other occasions, I can envision the completed piece before even touching the clay.
— The full interview will be featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two.
Marianne McGrath: What I See, What I Saw II, 2011, unfired earthenware, plywood, steel rod, wax, 4’h x 10’l x 20’x
“One of my interests is in making multi-component, interactive sculptures. Most of these works have innumerable permutations for viewing. Perhaps partially influenced from my background as a professional musician, these flexible sculptures allow for creating variations in the artwork such as might be experienced in the live performance of a musical composition from concert to concert. Some of the works may appear to be “games,” but generally there are no rules for arranging the components.
I work primarily in porcelain because this claybody receives and juxtaposes textures so articulately. Glazes are employed minimally; some works make use only of slips, underglazes, and oxide washes. My building combines altered wheelthrown as well pure handbuilding techniques.” Suzanne Stumpf
Suzanne Stumpf: Interactive Sculpture No. 9, 2008, 16”h x 8”w x 8”d, wheelthrown porcelain with handbuilt components; black slip and shellac resist; oxidation fired to cone 10
Although Interactive Sculpture No. 9 appears at first glance to be some sort of game, there are no rules here. It is intended for the playful pleasure of the viewer to arrange the sticks with their different colored tips entirely to their own whim. (When all the sticks are removed the work is a trompe l’oeil with the raised black dots hiding its holes.)
“My work mainly consists of salt-fired Porcelain and Stoneware. The salt-firing process is unique in that salt is introduced into the kiln when it reaches the proper temperature (2345 degrees F for my work). Inside the kiln, the salt vaporizes and settles onto the pieces, forming its own glaze over the clay body. I also use various slips and glazes to further decorate the pots.
In my functional work, my goal is to make the pieces “special”. I hope that everyday users will appreciate being “in the moment” as they sip from their hand-made cup or enjoy soup from their favorite bowl.
My sculptural pieces all have specific meaning for me, but sometimes are just fun! I don’t wish to impose my views of the work upon others, but would rather viewers lend their own interpretation to the pieces within their own contexts and ideas. Most importantly, I hope the sculptures will inspire viewers to pause and consider how the piece relates to their lives.” Deborah Britt
Deborah Britt: Blue Butter Dish, 4” x 6”, Wheel-Thrown and Altered, Salt-Fired Porcelain with Slip and Glaze Decoration, Cone Ten, 2011