Monday, December 13, 2010


Change is something that I've been thinking about a lot lately.  I've always thought that it was a positive thing as long as it was done as growth or evolution.  As a studio artist and teacher, change has always been a essential part of the art equation.  Nothing innovative has ever been produced by recreating old ideas. 

One of the assignments that I give to my ceramic students is a "cup transformation".  It's about visual changes or progressions that occur to a functional cup rendering it completely useless.  I have them start by making a number of small clay sketches of the transformation ideas.  I'm always more impressed by the maquettes because they are like humble ideas loosely expressed in clay.  I'm also trying to impart to students that most of the time the first idea that pops into your head isn't the best one and you can always improve on an idea through a series of gradual "tweaks". 

All of this "Change" that I'm referring to in this post is the the kind that comes from oneself.  The other kind is when you are not in control of the change but instead the individual who bears witness to the change.  That is another story and post.  Anyway, I hope this gives you something to think about. Change is a notion that I'm sure I'll be thinking about for many years to come. Unless of course something changes.

Friday, December 3, 2010


I was recently invited to participate in a large group show at a local gallery.
It wasn't much notice considering my primary medium is ceramics and you just can't knock that out over night, so I was forced to think outside the box and come up with a way to produce my work in differently.  In my position as director and curator of a design house called "hutch studio", I focus on the idea of resourceful art.  I'm repurposing anything I can get my hands on and cardboard has been the material of choice lately.  If you have read any of my previous posts you know.  In my ceramic work I never buy premixed boxed clay.  I'm a bit of a purist at times.  I mix my own clay body, the same one that I've been using since my risd days, but at the college where I teach ceramics we empty many a clay box and I've always had to flatten them and carry them out to the recycling bin.  Not any more. I'm using them to create my sculptures!  Below are two images of my sculpture. The one on the left is ceramic and the one on the right is the piece that I just completed repurposing cardboard clay boxes.

Now I'm not saying that I'm giving up the mud or anything, but I do recognize that there are advantages and drawbacks to working with the cardboard.  I will definitely continue using it in some capacity.  It was fun! The thing I really want to talk about in the post is the fact that putting yourself into a high pressure situation can often produce great results.  In the first year of art school it became evident that the cream would rise to the top and the weeds would be pulled.  This experience really did remind me of old school days and nights, and nights, and nights. The difference for me is that back then I didn't have a full time job, a part time job, a wife, and toddler.  Back then you could push yourself to the brink of total exhaustion in order to complete an idea and nobody else could get hurt. Finding a way to get into the studio to create the work that truly comes from a personal place can be a huge challenge.  But if it wasn't for challenge life would be quite blah.  
And how do we find time for reality TV. I'm talking about the good shows. I really do watch "Project Runway" and "Top Chef" because of the creative challenges.  Under the gun, when the clock is ticking down, you discover if you have what it takes. You know..... the artistic "stuff".  Tim Gunn knows what I'm saying.