I love pottery. I love ceramics. I can't describe the pleasure I feel looking at and handling pots. My biggest thrill was touching a real mimbres pot in a private collection.
Perhaps it is for the same reason I love cave paintings. There is some sort of communication that goes on between "makers"- those who have made the pots or cave paintings - and those who currently "make". Our hand marks are on our work.
To work with my hands gives me deep satisfaction; to make.
I often despise our homo sapiens' love affair with stuff. Is our acquisition of stuff because we are sedentary (non nomadic) or were we always looking for a way to settle down so we could collect stuff?
I point out to my students that we could have made pottery long before we did but it was impractical to carry it around. As soon as we stopped traveling, pottery showed up. Pottery goes hand in hand with agriculture.
I find myself seduced by containers of all sorts. I am a maker of this stuff - these containers for more stuff- as well as a collector.
I love all kinds of pottery. I love tiny legged Mayan pots; Greek pottery sherds; The black and white sherds of Anasazi pots; I love handmade things I use on a daily basis made by friends; I love ceramic finds at Salvation Army; the terra cotta oval dish made in Mexico for tourists; a majolica candy dish made in Italy, a slip cast yellow planter in the shape of a Ping-like duck, the "low" Delftware I inherited from my grandmother. I love old mixing bowls, Fiestaware™, restaurant plates, my fine china, funky Japanese and Chinese mass produced bowls. I love my sink and my toilet. tiles, masks, lamps, flower pots, knobs, frames, ornaments; ceramic pieces, broken and whole from an excavation next door. the terra cotta on so many historic buildings here in Chicago- the Reebie Building, the pieces in my garden that used to adorn an industrial laundry that they tore down around the corner. Heck, I love the little insulators that hold the heating element inside my toaster.
You can make just about anything out of clay; including a house and there are several ways to do even that!
Watch Maria Martinez, Native American potter of New Mexico, gather up some dust from the ground, mix it with sand and water and make a pot. it borders on miraculous.
If clay was alive, it would be a dog; our eternal friend. Loyal and ever-ready to do our bidding.
Klaus Oldenburg had a great quote I came across:
"I am for an art that is political-erotical-mystical, that does something other than sit on its ass in a museum. I am for an art that grows up not knowing it is art at all, an art given the chance of having a starting point of zero. I am for an art that embroils itself with the everyday crap & still comes out on top."
Here's another one that says it another way:
The beautiful rests on the foundations of the necessary.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
I was raised mostly in the midwest and learned to throw when I was 10. I have always maintained an interest in ceramics; throwing in high school and working for a potter when I was 16.
After some coursework at MacAlester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, I got my BFA at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
I then moved to Chicago and worked in adverstising and as a professional photographer. After becoming thoroughly disenchanted with that, I started making and selling jewelry and landed at Lill Street in Chicago where I worked and taught for 25 years.
My work has always been mostly functional high-fire and since my arrival at Lill Street, I have worked more and more with slipped surface decoration. Much of my work is sgraffito on thrown porcelain but not exclusively so.
I believe stongly in using art to build self esteem among all ages and also in integrating art into regular school curriculum.
I have done outreach into the public schools for A.R.T., Spertus Museum, Lill Street Learning Center among other institutions and have volunteered teaching art at InterAmerican Magnet School in Chicago since 1997. I am currently teaching at the Northern Clay Center and the Northfield Arts Guild. In 2012 I relocated from Chicago, moving to a small town in Minnesota with my family. Although I am now a full time potter, devoting most of my energy to making pots and selling them at art fairs and shows,teaching is still a strong part of who I am.