Wabonsee Community College (WCC), Sugar Grove, IL. This visit by the nomadic ceramics gallery is one of the reasons WCC has such a phenomenal ceramics program. Doug Jeppesen heads the program and has already booked similar events for 2011! Coming up soon is another great event: a week-long soda firing workshop with Gail Nichols. The Artstream visit was a 2-day event with lectures and demonstrations by Lisa Orr, Tara Wilson, and Steven Colby. Simultaneous demonstrations on Monday were fun and each artist had a very different way of working.
Steven (pictured right) also worked on an electric wheel that was elevated to that he could stand while throwing his pots. Steven worked "off-the-hump" because it allowed him to raise the level of the form so that he didn't have to bend to the side to see its profile. It also allowed him to nearly finish the foot of the pot while throwing, rather than the traditional method of leaving clay at the base which is trimmed off at leather hard. He worked with white and black slip decoration very spontaneously while the pot was still turning on the wheel. Steven was very philosophical in speaking about his process and product: 1) He wants to make pots that have a [physical] weight that matches the visual weight of his surfaces, and aims to make an object that has purpose and integrity as soon as you pick it up. 2) He encourages dripping and bleeding of the slips on his freshly thrown pots by misting them with water from a spray bottle directly after it is applied, but not covering the entire form with slip. He discussed his methodology of surface as "revealing honesty" in material, form, and surface.
Monday evening the artists each did a slide presentation about their work, and a potluck followed. I was bummed that I had to miss this fun part of the Artstream's visit, but yours truly still has that waitress job to pay the bills. One day some aspect of my professional artistic career will do that . . . maybe.
On Tuesday afternoon, Lisa did a short lecture on the research and philosophy behind her work. Color is the undeniable trademark of her work. She spoke about referencing the color signals found in nature such as the co-evolution of colored fruit and the human eye (check out Studio Potter Vol. 35, No.1, December 2006). She has recently produced a documentary on traditional Mexican pottery that has influenced her work. See www.potteryofmexico.com for details.
The actual Artstream gallery was poetic as always, and shopping the gallery pre-NCECA was both a more pleasant and more exclusive, as I felt like I was attending the special members-only preview. Seeing the work of potters I know personally and the work of some potters I have never heard of is an exciting and satisfying jaunt. I spent all the money I made waiting tables the night before on an Andy Brayman tea bowl with the elusive luster stripe, and a Steven Colby whiskey cup. I really enjoyed Steven's demonstration and surface decoration . . . . And, yes, I drink whiskey.
Cheers! Thanks Artstream! Thanks Doug! And, enjoy NCECA and the rest of the tour!
Follow the links throughout this post and below to see images of these artists' work and more about Artstream's adventures.