How long have you been working with ceramics?
32 years with a 25 year break in the middle.
What kind of training do you have?
Basic college level intro stuff.
What attracts you to the medium?
How is it different from/similar to painting or drawing?
It’s three dimensional for starters... The three dimensional aspect is interesting and unusual for me within the realm of my paintings; for instance I usually never render the back of a head in a painting or drawing. The kiln and its extreme temperatures during the firing stage is a big piece of the process; obviously that’s a ‘hands off’ part. It's quite alchemical and has elements that feel magical during this transformative part of the process.
Can you describe your process?
Conjuring immediacy, staying focused and present.
Low fire, low tech, simple and direct.
Do you have a result in mind when you begin working?
Maintaining and channeling the immediacy and spirit that I want the work to possess and carry forth with.
How do you view your ceramic works in relation to your 2-D work?
Particularly in terms of content, do you see them as being in dialogue, or as separate conversations?
It’s all related mostly through materials.The plastic consistency of the clay becoming a solid permanent form is a very interesting and engaging proposal to me. In the building phase, the slightest touch, scratch or poke is potentially registered, very similar to drawing. To then be able to cover that form with a layer of colored glass adds to this already dynamic process ! The simplicity by which the material is manipulated, with one’s hands and fingers, is a very direct, instinctual and personal process.
It's an obvious starting point to express elements that are important to me in my work: emotion, attitude and humor. I wanted to work quickly with the clay, arriving at a finished form with a minimum of negotiation within the material itself. Starting and ending with faces seemed like a natural window to open.
Are there any other artists working in ceramics – contemporary or otherwise – who’ve influenced your work in the medium?
I enjoy and appreciate the intuitive spontaneity of Rosemarie Trockel’s ceramic work, Lucio Fontana's simple gestural ceramic sculpture, Peter Voulkos’ and Robert Arneson's humor and energy, Robert Turner's amazinly simple and timeless pottery.
Do you see this work as lending itself to any ongoing conversations in ceramics? Or is it meant to be read more in terms of a fine arts practice? To what extent is that distinction useful or interesting?
I’m not interested in becoming a ceramic artist per se....
I want my work to enter the wider world and to hit it running. The spirit and energy of my work will allow it to find a place in the world.
Why do you think we’ve seen a renewed interest in ceramics within art circles in recent years? What makes it a timely medium for contemporary artists?
Not sure, trends and cycles come and go but can also leave positive effects in their wake. Perhaps it’s a desire to reconnect with the “hand” a slow fired result of a collective wish for authenticity and the personal, a type of ballast within the encroaching waves of digitalized media that has come to represent our present.
I know you consider yourself a process painter, and are very particular about both the materials and the techniques you use. Is the same true for ceramics? Can you talk about your sculpting process in those terms?
Simply stated, process is important to my work. The facepots are pretty straightforward in this regard and therein lies the challange: to keep it simple and direct.
In the catalog from your current show at Kern, you talk about how your painting practice underwent a change in approach: where you used to begin with a ﬁgure in mind, you’ve come to prefer working in a more direct manner – “straight from the eyes to the hands.” I’m curious to know whether your recent work with ceramics reﬂects – or even might have inspired – that change?
I think its more a wave that I was on, one that was moving in that direction with momentum and one picked up all ships at the same time.
Your facepots are obviously art objects, but they retain a functional form. Do you have any expectation (or preference) as to whether the people who purchase them might end up using them as pots/vases? Or are they generally intended for display only?
The facepots are meant to be non functional sculptural forms.The vase form is simply a point of referenced departure.
What made you want to get back into ceramics after that 25-year break?
Having the acess to a facility plus the time to add a new part to my life and studio practice.
I know you recently found a new ceramics studio. Where is it? Do you share the facilities with others? Generally speaking, are they ceramicists,
artists/sculptors, or a mixture of both? Has that environment affected your practice at all?
My current ceramics studio is a temporary one in Williamsburg, quite established, it’s a communal bee hive of activity. The owner has recently sold it to a developer so it’s will soon be condos or apartments. The studio is pretty close to my house so it’s ideal. I’m lucky to have found it and to have been so productive there.