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identity crit -- ceramic sculptor, sculptor, clay artist -- fitting in

updated sun 16 jul 06


Kathy Forer on thu 13 jul 06

I'm still debating whether to post this but will write it first and =20
then probably just fling it out, hopefully not in anyone's face.

Until four years ago I'd always thought of myself as a sculptor, =20
plain and simple. Then I was asked by someone who found my web site =20
to make a proposal for a number of six foot by five foot outdoor =20
relief murals made of porcelain. And then John Johnsen somehow found =20
my work and wrote a profile for Clay Times magazine. ODP,, =20
has me listed under Arts: Visual Arts: Sculpture: Sculptors: Ceramics =20=

and I've tried to change it, remove the final qualifying colon, but =20
it had stuck. A year or so later I found Clayart and what a great =20
resource from helping figure out how to heat a studio to laughing at =20
all sorts of fortes and foibles. I decided it was time to learn to =20
fire my own work and to be more invested in the craft of what I was =20
doing, making sculptures out of clay and firing them as terra-cotta =20
bisque, occasionally adding color or decorative elements with various =20=

(as I later learned) "cold-processes," but mainly just firing as a =20
way to preserve the work. Clay breaks.

My question here is particular to me but it's also quite general. Is =20
there a difference between ceramic sculpture and plain old sculpture =20
made of clay and fired? Sculpture connotes "art" and has ties within =20
that tradition, but ceramic sculpture has many of the same ties. I =20
was looking at the links from Ceramics: Art and Perception last night =20=

and there was nothing if not "crossover." There are many here and at =20
nceca where it's just a label.

Why does it matter, they're just categories and have common =20
influences and shared values? A category implies certain fundamental =20
concepts, so it has importance and governs choice. In this case I am =20
applying for something and asked whether my discipline is Crafts or =20
Sculpture and so have to make a decision.

Until 2003 I never considered anything other than reflexively =20
answering "sculpture" but now I find myself thinking maybe I'd have a =20=

better chance to officially and singularly "succeed" or perhaps "fit =20
in" better (possibly by standing out) if I accede to being a ceramic =20
sculptor. My work is only somewhat unusual for ceramic sculpture but =20
slightly anachronistic for sculpture sculpture. Everything I know =20
about the history of pottery I've learned here or from my mother's =20
yellow ware or grandmother's Hummel.

Sculpture education in the art atelier has taught me great respect =20
and acknowledgment of craft but as many have complained here, the =20
balance is skewed and many sculptors with a contemporary art =20
education never learn the fundamentals of how to make a thing. Or =20
fire clay, or build a kiln. It never mattered to me before, I'd just =20
take it over to AZ's place and watch it get packed into his =20
commodious and generous car kiln. But I moved and now I can do it =20

My r=E9sum=E9 says art school but I'm wondering if craft might not be a =20=

more fulfilling or responsive direction. I've certainly gained =20
immeasurable knowledge and enjoyment from following and hanging out =20
with this list, but am constitutionally wary of too irrevocably =20
belonging to anyone or anything. I'll go so far and then often back =20
to the beginning. Defensive solipsism or rooted wanderlust, perhaps. =20
I'm working on it.

My question to myself is how far do I want to go? Given all, how far =20
can I still go? Technically and artistically I'll go as far as the =20
work takes me of course but I'd also like to have a sense of =20
direction or choice in the externals of the matter.

I need to make more work and lots of it ...and sell it. I work =20
quickly in the beginning but then have to be careful not to get =20
sucked into a really time consuming stylism. My new home life is =20
finally mostly stable and my studio is functional. I've had it with =20
the rats in the web development world and only work for a few select, =20=

mostly corporate, clients who I charge a ton of money as a macintosh =20
consultant but now I have more free time (if still recurrently =20
anguished about making ends meet) and am able to do more within "my =20
craft or sullen art" and realize that's not just having a show in a =20
gallery now and then, or even belong to a gallery "stable." It's that =20=

daily production that might find other more wholesale or local outlets.

So what do I put on the form?

While I'm at it, revealing all, I should also ask for a critique of =20
my work. I am thin skinned in places and also haven't updated my web =20
photos in two years. Perhaps with that in mind, if anyone has any =20
feedback, on-list or off, I'd be most grateful. http://=20

Back to what's left of daylight.

Thank you Clayart!

Kathy Forer
Claypit Creek in Megalopolis

Ivor and Olive Lewis on sat 15 jul 06

Dear Kathy Forer,=20

I find nothing to exceed the appellation "Sculptor" except perhaps =
"Architect" or "Goldsmith". Why try to split the hair between Marble and =
Clay when All is Form and Ornamentation.

You be who you are.

Best regards,.

Ivor Lewis.
South Australia.