Tuesday, March 1, 2016

2015 Warren MacKenzie Award Process III: Stuart Gair

Throughout the final portion of my trip, I focused primarily on interviewing as many individuals who reside in Maine's mid-coast region as I could. The goal of these inquiries was to learn how unique each person's approach to making a living in the field of ceramics was. As a second-year graduate student, I have begun to think seriously about my future in the field after school and am open to all possibilities as long as it results in a continuation and growth of making work. It was extremely helpful to travel around the state and see first-hand how a wide variety of artists made a living. I came to a realization that there is NO SET PATH in this field and everyone's situation is unique and individualized to that person. Often times, it is necessary for artists to supplement their studio practice with additional means of income to enable themselves to keep making. Others are able to sustain a living by only making pots. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of meeting with so many different artists in so many different environments, which has led my view the field and my future in a much more open and exciting way!

Autumn Cipala's studio in Rockland, Maine. Autumn is a full-time studio potter who also teaches part-time at a nearby community college. This image was taken in her beautiful studio which is a stones throw away from the Atlantic Ocean.

Here is an image of Susan Dewsnap's classroom at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Susan is a professor at Bates and also has a personal studio in the building which allows her access to all of the facilities. I had the chance to have conversations with numerous individuals involved in the academic sphere throughout my time on the east coast and was able to learn about many of the circumstances that come with such as a position as well as what it takes to get to that point.
I was lucky enough to receive a tour of Edgecomb Pottery, which is a small-scale production facility that specializes in complex wheel thrown forms and crystalline glazes. There are numerous facilities such as these throughout Maine's mid-coast region that capitalize on tourism during Maine's peak season. Edgecomb Pottery was originated in 1977 by two men named Chris and Richard who purchased an old schoolhouse in Edgecomb, Maine, and opened the store for business that same year. Since then, Edgecomb Pottery has greatly expanded their facilities and has opened a second location on the waterfront in Portland, Maine.
I took a trek into the wilderness to visit the home, gallery, and studio of Rocky Mann. Rocky makes a living as a studio potter and is very experimental in his firing processes. The land he resides on is a quiet place which Rocky feels is an ideal environment that facilitates a creative process.
Here are a couple pieces that I have made since my travels.  I have begun to think about what I make in a different way and have been deeply influenced by the objects I saw, people I met, and places I visited.
Tea bowls made using a reduction cooling process in a soda kiln. This is a hybrid technique for a wood firing process which I learned from some very smart people I met at Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts.

My wall of inspiration! These are all photos that I took during my trip to the east coast this past summer and are with me everyday in my studio in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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