Artist Statement 2012
The acts of design and creation are some of the most integral acts to being human. We as humans create and design everything around us. Our lives have become filled with technology gadgets and institutions that are supposed to make life more convenient, so that we have more time to enjoy life. The unfortunate result of this can be a life where the joy of physical work is forgotten. My purpose with my art is to improve the quality of life and to infuse it with meaning and comfort.
The purpose of my art drew me to clay because it is a functional and usable medium. I love working with clay, because of the physicality and intimate nature of the process. The process of working with clay is more about teaching your own body to move than actually moving the clay. I am frequently drawn to the soft flexible qualities of clay.
I find inspiration from a myriad of places. As a kid I always loved Dr. Seuss illustrations, especially the contraptions in the “Butter Battle Book.” Also part of my youth was spent watching birds with my brothers and in doing so I have been amazed by sights like a blue heron standing in a lake. The way birds hold themselves and have unusual yet immaculate balance. I am also continually inspired by the human body; the hips of my wife, the belly of a portly friend,or the rolls of fat of my baby nephew. Once I have an idea I begin with doodling and sketching, until I find lines, shapes, or proportions that I like. I then incorporate my ideas and doodles into numerous larger sketches of functional pieces of pottery. Then I go about making the piece and adjusting from my drawings to the three dimensional form. My pots are extremely drawing based and therefore an emphasis is placed on the profile line of the form. My goal is to balance the whimsical feel of my forms with a deep rich surface that evokes curiosity. Deep rich surfaces grew out my love for traditional Korean celadon-ware and Japanese wood-fired pots. This is why I generally focus on layered sprayed glazes and wood firing. I feel my work is successful when it is graceful, playful, and genuine.
I have chosen to work in functional forms. My Mennonite upbringing taught me the value of work and thus functional pots became a natural avenue for my work. I value people and relationships. With this in mind usability becomes an integral part of my work. The cup, whose place is in the hand, is far more personal than the sculpture resting on the shelf. Function is an important part of my work, because it gives direction to the process of creating a piece. I do not see function as a hindrance to the form; I see it more as a guide to help the design process.
It is under constraint that we are our most creative. Creativity within confines forces us to create new possibilities while retaining some sense of tradition. My work is a blend of new ideas and old, form and function, whimsy and authenticity. It makes me feel great when people are intrigued by my pots and want to handle them. But when I see people choose a piece that suits them and I see them using it, I know I have accomplished my purpose.