As many of you might know this is my first real venture away from my littlest babe so it's been a time for re-awakening the dormant parts of my creative brain after a long sleep. This alone has made the transition back into a communal studio where academic and creative language abounds a bit stressful for me. The theoretical mind is a muscle that if not stretched dies off and not much short of shock therapy is needed to get it working again.
So i began my travels with a day of flights from the cold north of Saskatchewan down into the Southern United States and the great state of Tennessee. I've never been this far south in the USA and quite honestly had no idea what to expect. There is as always with Americans a generosity and kindness, humor and sincerity that always brings me back to the USA happily. Tennessee has a wealth of beautiful scenery to behold and the drive from Knoxville to Gatlinburg (where Arrowmont is located) was a road trip to burn into memory. The Smoky Mountain National Park was lovely this time of year and I predict would be even more breathtaking in the summer or fall months.
A little on why I'm here: Early last year I received one of those emails that makes you giddy and uncontrollably dance happily around your kitchen (hopefully only for you to see). Jason Burnett, one of my current favorite contemporary potters contacted me regarding The Ceramic Surface Forum, which is a week long forum in it's second year. Its an initiative that Jason pitched to Arrowmont and which Arrowmont eagerly supported, and somehow, just somehow I got on the ceramic gods good side and was invited to participate this year. I'll be posting images of the other artists work over the next few days and will get around to posting links to all of their websites right away as well. For me this was the perfect way to start off my year. Last year was a blur, a baby, some sales, a move, who knows what else. And at the end of it all i was shocked to realize that a year had gone by without me having made even one new figurative sculpture. What?! I know. Embarrassing. That part of my brain had given itself up to the survival mode of parenting and craft sales. But in the fall I had applied for a grant with the Saskatchewan Arts Board which I recently found out I had received. This grant would financially support this residency as well as a research based trip to Los Angeles later this spring (more on that another time) and the production of a new body of figurative work.
So i looked that this week away at Arrowmont as the perfect way to start sketching ideas and content development for this new project. Plus on top of it all I would be surrounded by artists with a wealth of knowledge, particularly regarding ceramic surface techniques which I could learn from, test and possibly incorporate into new surface treatments for my figurative work.
Urgh glaze testing. How I hate thee. But with only a week and the inability to really bring anything back with me there was no point in making any sculptures - even if the idea of a weeks worth of uninterrupted days could have resulted in more physical work than what i created all last year. So instead i'm spending a lot of time peering over shoulders and learning, engaging in conversations about clay, craft, academia, life, you name it, and basically easing my way back into a making mode. Needless to say it's been lovely, truly exactly what i needed and more.
For now I'll leave you with some eye candy from around the studio as i'm eager to get away from this computer and back to the studio. I promise to fill you in more about Arrowmont, Gatlinburg and all of the artists i have the pleasure and honor to be working beside as soon as i have a spare minute. Until then enjoy!