Western Massachusetts is a beautiful, quiet place steeped in history and practical creativity. I spent the weekend on July 28 - 30 at Project Art in Cummington, MA and made my way around the studios of potters in the Hilltown 6 summer tour. This episode is a mix of 12 different artists who were present during the weekend, giving a range of experiences and ideas on the place where they live, their history, and who they are as potters. Guests include: Alex Jellenberg, Adam Chau, Mara Superior, May Beattie, Elenor Wilson, Michael McCarthy, Steve Theberge, Maya Machin, Mark Shapiro, Julie Crosby, Ryan Greenheck, Jessica Detweiler, Brad Klem, Leslie Ferrin
This episode was recorded live at NCECA 2017 in Portland, OR. My guests, Mary Barringer, Silvie Granatelli, Gail Kendall are some of my favorite people and I have worked with them in some capacity over the years. Prior to our live podcast recording I sent them three questions that this episode revolves around.
- You’ve all been making work for several decades. Do you aim to make work that fits an “ideal” or are you evolving over time? In other words, how close do you feel you are to making pots that are truly yours?
- How are you exploiting your studio time now as a creative outlet, and does that reach outside of ceramics?
- All three of you have made changes to your career (retirement, cutting down on shows) that were a big part of life for many years, what has the transition to your latest chapter of life been like?
Jennifer Brook is an artist and strategic designer with an eclectic, inquiry-led practice. She currently is the lead design researcher at Dropbox in San Francisco, CA. I met Jennifer back in 2006 at the Penland School of Crafts while were were both working as studio assistants. Her confidence and ability to take what she's learned from making books and art has led her down a very interesting and socially engaging path. From her website:
A brief working manifesto:
- Questions are magic
- Listen with guts
- Kindness connects
- Adventure is essential
Alex Matisse is a potter in Western North Carolina. In this first of two episodes about the idea of pivoting, he talks about moving from a traditional North Carolina pottery workshop to a market driven, sometimes mechanized form of production. This conversation was recorded in June of 2016, and we also recorded a follow-up in June of 2017 to help give listeners an idea of what challenges Alex and his team at Eastfork Pottery have had to endure.
From their website: East Fork Pottery is nestled at the end of a valley on an old tobacco field, between steep green mountains, thirty minutes northwest of Asheville, North Carolina. Founded in 2010 by Alexander Matisse & Connie Coady, the workshop is now home to potter John Vigeland and a growing team of apprentices and staff.
The Jonescast would also like to remember Paulus Berensohn, who passed on June 15. He was a guest of the show, and you can listen to him on episode #61. Rest in Peace.
Recorded in front of a live audience in Portland, OR, this episode of the Jonescast revolves around the realities of being a father and a potter. All four guests (Kyle Carpenter, Simon Levin, Peter Scherr, Sean Scott) have had to figure out how to make their way as potters as they learn how to be fathers. You will also hear how important all of them consider their partners to be in their working life. This episode is brought to you in part by the Oregon College of Art and Craft and by NCECA.
music credits: Charles Bradley
Roberto Lugo is an American potter, social activist, spoken word poet, and educator. Lugo's work draws together hip-hop, history and politics into formal ceramics and 2D works. Born in Philadelphia to Puerto Rican parents, Lugo began his career as a graffiti artist before discovering ceramics. He has been an Emerging Artist at NCECA, and has been awarded a fellowship as an United States Artist. We talk Trump's election victory, casual racism, and remaining empathetic.
Bryan Hopkins is a Buffalo, NY potter and educator. As a young man he was involved in the punk scene and activism of the early 80's. He found clay and, although in a somewhat different trajectory than his early days, is still engaged socially. This conversation is from 2016, we spoke over Skype, and some points of our discussion are a bit dated, but some are more relevant than ever (racial justice). You can read some of Bryan's writing here.
Courtney Martin is a full time studio potter in the hills of Bakersville, NC. Living rurally has allowed Martin, and her husband, to practice a sustainable lifestyle: gardening, heating their home with deadwood, and employing solar panels. Her geometrically decorated pots are made by both throwing and slab building and are then wood-fired. We spent most of our time talking about the current political culture of her local community, finding some footing in a hectic world, managing parenthood and studio, and where to get good beans.
This episode was originally released in 2013.
Michael Strand is an artist interested in setting up circumstances for people to be able to tell their stories. In his own words: "One of the great joys of being an artist is the ability to dream without limitations and then acting on those dreams without the fear of failure. With this mindset I can imagine that a cup could be infused with the spirit of the late Charles Kuralt, branching out into the country to seek out stories waiting to be told, or that a cup could hold the potential of the great Desmond Tutu, and be integral in conversations of mediation. Without practical limitations on function I am free to conceptualize how an object can operate in new and innovative ways." Indeed, Michael's work finishes the puzzle of functional ceramics. He makes the connection between maker, object, and user engaging and more importantly, vital.
Adam Field is a potter and social media savant living in Helena, MT. He travels extensively throughout the US giving workshops and sharing his knowledge of ceramics to others. A pioneer in the combination of craft and social media, Adam has led the charge getting the word out about ceramics to the larger world on Periscope, Instagram, and YouTube.