For many years I was a critic, writing mainly about architecture and design.
Then, one day, I put my hand in a bucket of slip.
Now I work in clay, words and other malleable materials.
Here's how it happened...
* * *
In September 2004, I was invited to a conference at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine, entitled Craft and Design: Hand, Mind, and the Creative Process. Between lectures, participants could try out different materials and processes — clay, drawing, site-specific installation, blacksmithing — under the guidance of guest artists.
Wandering round the remarkable Edward Larrabee Barnes-designed campus, I drifted into the Ceramics studio, a long luminous bar of a building with a horizontal window framing a view of the Atlantic.
On a chalkboard was a list of things to do with clay in various states:
wet, dry, slab, coil, liquid, granular.
On a table was the aforementioned bucket. I dipped my hand in:
cool, glutinous, lovely stuff.
I was totally seduced.
That weekend I made things with my hands for the first time since my teens. Lots of them. Not all that sophisticated, but satisfying nonetheless.
* * *
On returning home, I started taking evening classes at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis. Then I took a couple of summer workshops at Haystack, and the obsession with clay deepened.
Gradually, what began as a refreshing contrast to my day-job (running the University of Minnesota Design Institute) became a priority.
In 2008, I took a leap of faith, and went back to school for my MFA in Ceramics.
At Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, I strayed beyond the disciplinary confines of my home department (as is the tendency there) and made work in various materials, in addition to clay, as well as installations.
After peregrinations to jobs in Montreal and Pennsylvania, I moved to Santa Fe in late 2013, lured by the light and the landscape. My studio practice received a significant boost when I won SITE Santa Fe's 2014 SPREAD 5.0 competition open to individual New Mexico-based artists.
Using this grant, I've expanded my repertoire of materials thanks to the remarkable faculty and facilities at the Santa Fe Community College, where I've learned to make metal sculpture and do hands-on bronze casting.
I've also pursued my sculpture during residencies at the Banff Centre, Canada, A.I.R. Vallauris, France, and the European Ceramic Work Centre in the Netherlands.
The photos on this site are my own, unless otherwise credited.