Mayco: Please tell us about yourself–what’s your background and how have you ended up where you are today?
I was born in Springfield, MA and lived in the area until I was 16 years old when my family relocated to Southern California for my dad’s job. I graduated high school there and attended California State University, Northridge for undergrad where I received my BA (2008) and MA (2009) in Studio Art with a concentration in Ceramics. At this point, I was making mostly functional pottery but found myself getting bored. I began dabbling here and there with sculptural forms, and I applied to grad school with this in mind. When I was accepted to attend Cranbrook Academy of Art, I switched over entirely to making sculptural works. I graduated from Cranbrook with my MFA in 2011. After graduating, I did short residencies in a number of places, including Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI, Guldagergaard: International Ceramics Research Center in Skaelskor, Denmark, and The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH. For the past 5 years, I have been living and working in Las Cruces, NM where I am an Assistant Professor of Art at New Mexico State University.
Where did your interest in ceramics come from?
I fell into ceramics on accident. Ceramics is a humbling material, and I was attracted to ceramics because of the process and technical challenge. Now, I love ceramics because of its inherent ability to be funny.
How would you describe your style of work, the materials you use and how you’re inspired?
I make large-scale ceramic sculptures. While I am primarily a ceramic artist, I do not shy away from using mixed media; I often incorporate things such as spray paint, rubber, hair extensions, faux fur, expandable foam, gold leaf, and in the case of my most recent work, lots and lots of iridescent gems. I am inspired by pop culture, specifically, imagery especially related to gender, beauty, and material desire. I am inspired by glossy magazines, runway shows, beauty ads, and movies.
What are you favorite Mayco products to use? How do these products show off your work??
My favorite Mayco products are Jungle Gems, Crystallites, and the Foundations glazes. The Foundations are so consistent and easy to apply, and they allow me to achieve consistent surfaces and bright colors. The Jungle Gems and Crystallites are just so fun to use; they can be mixed and overlapped for all kinds of cool effects.
What effect do you want your work to have on people??
I want my sculptures and installations to create a feeling of cognitive dissonance, a psychological space that is simultaneously critical and indulgent. I want my work to draw people in with its bright colors and glossy surface, but then I hope that they realize that something is off. I want people to think about how the media influences the choices we make, whether we are cognizant of it or not.
Who is your ceramics “hero”, or an artist that you really look up to?
I am super influenced by the work of Ken Price. As someone who makes brightly colored abstract ceramic works, it is impossible to deny Price’s impact. I am also inspired by the work of sculptor Franz West.
What was first piece of pottery you made (that you remember), and why did you fall in love with the art form?
The very first ceramic work I made was in 7th grade. I attempted to make an ocean wave; I glazed it blue/green. When I brought it home to show my parents, they asked me why I had chose to glaze my “taco” green. I claimed to hate ceramics for some time after that and didn’t touch clay again until I was about halfway through my undergraduate degree. I needed a 3D media class and ceramics was what fit my schedule. I still didn’t like it very much, but I was attracted to the material because of the technical challenges and the process. After the class was over, I rented a small space in a community studio for a month during winter break and committed myself to learning how to throw on the wheel. I was in that studio all day, almost every day that break, and I just never left.
In addition to creating your own ceramic art, what are your hobbies?
I work a lot, so I don’t give myself a whole lot of time for hobbies, but I do a lot of yoga. It has become my second passion and I hope to get my yoga teacher training sometime soon. Otherwise, I spend all of my time off in the summer and winter with my family in Massachusetts.
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I am fortunate that I have had the opportunity to travel to many places for both professional and personal reasons. I have always wanted to travel to India, and I am super excited to be participating in an exhibition symposium in Jaipur at the end of August. Now that India is crossed off my list, If I could choose anywhere in the world to go it would be Tokyo. I have not yet had the opportunity to travel to Japan and I am attracted to Tokyo because it is a city that is steeped in tradition and embraces the contemporary culture.
What would be the ultimate gift someone could give to you?
A really really big kiln.