Ceramics and Sculpture
Norman Art Building, Room 201
203 West Q Street
Russellville, AR 72801
After 21 years in the classroom it has become easy to dole out advice to art students regarding the inherent characteristics of what makes or leads to becoming a productive and successful artist. Sometimes following that advice in one's own personal endeavors is more difficult. One thing I strongly suggest is that students occasionally strike out on a new path away from their comfort zone. The fall semester sabbatical gave me the chance to do just that.
For this body of work I gave up the precision of form and glaze in order to take a more intuitive approach to clay. The clay bodies showcased were mixed by guesstimations rather than by specific formulas. Additions to the clay bodies included unheard-of ingredients such as cat litter, Styrofoam, chicken grit, play sand and sawdust just to name a few. The pieces have all been fired without glazes using just the naked clay in the new salt kiln that was constructed during the spring semester.
I used the water tower as a point of departure for most of the sculptures included in the show. Initially the works were very structured and fairly tight but that soon gave way taking more artistic liberties and relying on intuition with a very loose approach to handling the clay. Some of my concerns evolved around the need to just let the clay do what it does naturally by letting it rip, shred and crack allowing for a more textural surface quality. Another goal was to impart a sense timelessness and scale into the work.
I have always felt that process and technique in some cases almost formed an impenetrable barrier between the maker and the material. By not skinning the clay over with glazes and by working with the mantra of following the clay the work seems to have a freshness, immediacy, and energy that is often lacking in most process oriented ceramics.