I admire rural pottery traditions such as the honest approach of English country slipware and the spontaneous surface gesture of Japanese Onda. I’m inspired by numerous potters, both American and British who have emerged from the Leach legacy. While combining both wheel thrown and hand-altering techniques, my attention is drawn to an object’s form and the utilitarian aspects that may reference another place and time. Contrary to the perceived limitations of the electric kiln, I aim to create bold, functional forms that are oxidation fired with glazes formulated to show depth and surface variation.
I studied at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, and at the Harvard Ceramics Program. I manage the Ceramic Studio at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where I have been teaching since 1997. There, I guide students to value technique and to troubleshoot numerous aspects of the creative process. With a love of materials, tools and purity of form I believe the artist’s soul, touch and gesture is evident in every piece; linking the user with a process that spans thousands of years. I follow the tradition of ‘teacher and artist’ as I strive to create ceramics that invite use.
Figuring out the “how to” and discovering the “why’s” is essential for me in the creative process. This need goes for both successful concepts as well as failures. Deconstructing an idea in my head and then approaching it from step one is very intriguing to me. One must always allow for a prototype.
I start by visualizing the piece I’m going to make. This determines the specific clay body I choose to work with, as well as the finished vision and it’s intended use. These considerations directly affect what I’m making. I enjoy throwing on the wheel, shaping the clay and following up with altering that may leave traces of the making process. Sometimes I intentionally leave the throwing marks that spiral upwards or I may swipe my fingers through recently applied slip or glaze, revealing the clay surface underneath. The details of functionality such as the grip of a handle and how a lid sits comfortably into the gallery of a pot, I find equally intriguing.
When I’m able to reach a specific point with a clear flow, and the concept of what I’m trying to make matches what I’m doing on the wheel or with the altering process, then repetition can develop. One aims for a stage in the making process when repetition becomes tangible and not an accident or a desire. It’s then that I know my idea is working and I have the ability to make it happen.
My studio is at the Boston Center for the Arts (Cyclorama) in Boston, Massachusetts, a historic building in Boston’s South End.