who are you are and what you do?
I first started working in clay while living in Brooklyn, NY. Wanting to get out of New York, and to pursue Ceramics more seriously, I moved to Portland to study at the Oregon College of Art & Craft. Since finishing school, I have been a Resident Artist at several programs including The Archie Bray Foundation, Red Lodge Clay Center, and The Clay Studio of Missoula, where I currently serve on the Board of Directors. I've laid down roots in Missoula, but I continue to show work and teach workshops around the country. I'm currently working out of the Brunswick building with hopes to eventually build a home studio.
How do you work and make the great things you make?
I was initially really drawn to the process of ceramics… It’s still amazing to me that you can start out with a lump of clay and transform it into really almost anything. There’s so much possibility and variety in what you can do that I feel like it’s a medium you could never really get bored of, even after a lifetime of work. I’m always inspired to try and get better, and to make better work. Small victories in the studio are still extremely satisfying.
I try my best to maintain a steady studio practice. Late spring through summer is generally a time for production, and traveling to shows. I enjoy the process of repetition, but when I'm working towards a deadline I feel like I have less time to try out new things. Towards the end of summer, and after the holiday season is when things slow down a bit and I have time to experiment with new forms and decorations. Sometimes I'll create little challenges for myself: make five new forms I haven't done before, or try a certain number of new decorations. I look at books of patterns, and historical pots, I get a lot of ideas from pinterest. I try to visit bigger cities once or twice a year, and spend a lot of time in museums, and design stores.
How did you get started?
I studied Sociology in undergrad at Boston University. Shortly after graduating, I moved to New York and took a Ceramics class at a community center. I didn’t have any sort of natural talent for it initially, but I was really intrigued by the process, and really interested in learning more, so I put a lot of time in outside of class.
I noticed a flier on the bulletin board for a work exchange in my neighborhood in Brooklyn. I began working for another potter; we were both the same age, just out of school, and she had already started a production line, and was participating in trade shows.
I found myself spending more of my time working in her studio, and asking her a lot of questions. I was really interested in what she was doing, and we were so similar in a lot of ways, that I could see myself making a career out of clay, even though I wasn’t really sure how to go about that. She ended up moving out of the city, and I continued to work for other potters, learning different parts of the process as I went along.
After doing this a little over a year, I realized that I no longer wanted to live in New York, and if I really wanted to get somewhere with ceramics, I should go back to school and have a more formal training. I applied for a post-baccalaureate degree at Oregon College of Art & Craft in Portland, got accepted, and I’ve been doing this pretty much ever since then.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I’m inspired by all sort of beautiful things that are made with care, by hand… whether it’s food, or a handmade bag, jewelry, carved wood, or even the painted mud houses in parts of Africa. I appreciate good craftsmanship and attention to detail. I like things that have a lot of thought put into them and I feel like that usually translates through to the finished product.
I look to lots of different things- patterns, textiles, objects of all sorts. I’m generally drawn to simple forms, that have a sense of grace and quietness. I really like seeing the hand in the objects- lines that aren't quite straight, patterns that don't quite match up, those are the places that are most interesting to me.
What are you most proud of as an artist and business person?
I would probably say being accepted as a long term resident at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, MT (2010-2012). It was very surprising, and validating. Working in those facilities in a place with so much history, and working with so many thoughtful and intelligent fellow residents… It’s nice to feel a part of a longer story and lineage. I still feel really honored and humbled by that experience.
I feel like it definitely opened a lot of doors for me, and helped me take myself more seriously and present myself more professionally. It's also the thing that brought me out to Montana in the first place.
I've moved around a lot, so it's been really nice to put down some roots in Missoula, and become more involved in the local arts community. I've really appreciated feeling more connected to a place. Not sure if proud is the right word, but I'm definitely happy to be part of the community here.
Do you have any tips or suggestions for your fellow artisans and makers?
I think it's important to always try new things, and to always try to learn new things.... whether it's an online class in marketing, or a workshop, or even asking someone whose work you admire to coffee sometime, I think it's so important to always be learning, in whatever form that might take.
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