This past weekend, a few friends and I drove from Edinboro to Wooster, OH for the annual Wooster Functional Ceramic Workshop. I've found this workshop to be a hidden gem of the north east, welcoming highly renowned ceramic artists each year. Established in the early 1800's, Wooster is a charming and historical small town embellished with century old homes. The workshop provides lunches for both days, as well as an appetizing dinner at the Quail Quest Farms. Dinner is accompanied with beer and wine, along side their green house overflowing with a vast variety of beautiful plants as seen below.
The conference is held at the Wayne Center for the Arts located on South Walnut Street. Inside, the building provides access to the Functional Ceramics Gallery. This years exhibit included talented artists such as Jennifer Allen, Josh Copus, Kenyon Hansen, Nick Joerling, Karen Newgard, Shawn O'Connor, Lindsay Oesterritter, and many more.
Across the hall, a showcasing room is set up for attendees to sell and buy work from other conference goers. This is one of my favorite parts of Wooster. In order to buy someone elses piece, you have keep your eyes open and look around until you find the artist. This is an excellent opportunity to meet, converse, and build friendships with fellow clay lovers. Mayco set up a booth in this room as well, selling their famous Stroke & Coats, tools, and decorating accessories.
The demonstrators for this year were Suze Lindsay, Daniel Johnston, and Jeff Campana. Each of these artists offer a unique and beautiful aesthetic in their work.
Suze Lindsay, a studio potter from North Carolina alters wheel thrown and hand-built forms. In her demonstrations, we saw how she combines these elements to bring her pots to life. Slip-decoration is incorporated as well, referencing scenes from nature, often sketches from her garden. Her work is salt fired, allowing flashing warm hues. I was fortunate enough to purchase one of her mugs as shown on the left. Suze has a very laid back and playful personality. It was delightful to hear her speak of her time at Penland, and memories she's created along the way. Suze has a gallery space adjacent to her home and studio which is open to the public everyday. I believe Suze's endearing personality and practice is what makes her so likable.
Here is the link to Suze's website. http://www.forkmountainpottery.net
Daniel Johnston makes a living selling work from his studio and home based in Seagrove, North Carolina. Daniel's easy going, hospitable, and genuine personality is reflected in his wood fired pots, made from local clay. From Daniel's lecture it seemed it was through apprenticing with Mr. Sawein Silakhom in Thailand that his understanding of how and what he makes came into focus. There he learned to make large jars from coils by means of Thai pottery production. Thai jars are primarily used for fish paste, which although have different flavors, "all taste like rotten fish," Daniel joked. He noticed the architectures found in Thailand were echoed as he created structures on his property. He brought the techniques of making and firing he learned back to his studio. He demonstrated, building a pot at least 4' tall within the time frame given. Hearing stories of his travels, experiences, and perspectives was really inspiring. Here is the link to Daniel's website. http://danieljohnstonpottery.com
Jeff Campana is currently a visiting assistant professor of ceramics at Kennesaw State University near Atlanta. Simultaneously, Jeff sells his pots, infamous for their deconstruction and reconstruction. Embracing a nomadic lifestyle, Jeff has traveled across the country as a resident artist in locations such as the Archie Bray Foundation. In his demonstration, Jeff showed his throwing, trimming, cutting, and construction methods. He spoke saying his forms are largely influenced from nature, often tulip forms can be seen in his mugs and teapots. He enjoys the "imperfect symmetry" found in nature, and says that it is often reflected on the cut outs on his work. Jeff references ancient structures to see how bricks have been laid and maintained throughout time, as a means of figuring out how to cut apart and assemble his pottery. It was incredible to see how Jeff meticulously works to create his ornate and carefully constructed forms. For more, here is the link to Jeff's site. http://jeffcampana.com
I recommend the Wooster Functional Ceramic workshop to anyone interested in clay. Whether beginner or professional, there are many people to meet and new insight to gain.
I'd like to thank the Ohio Designer Craftmen for their involvement in the workshop. I am especially thankful for Betty Talbot, the museum/artistic director, and her organization of the event. I'd like to send a huge thank you to my professor Lee Rexrode for providing me with a scholarship to attend this year. Below are links about the workshop, Ohio Craft, and Mayco.
Until next time!