Q & A with featured #MaycoAtWork Artist, Kitty Maer - August 2017
Mayco: Please tell us about yourself – what’s your background and how have you ended up where you are today?
Kitty: I never actually had any interest in pottery until last December when I saw a throwing video that showed up on my Instagram feed at 2 am. Mesmerized, I spent the next three hours watching more. I started learning as much as I could over the next few weeks and then took a class at Columbus Cultural Arts Center, expecting to try it once and not like it. But once I had my hands in the clay, I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough, so I started learning wheel throwing at a couple of the recreation centers as well. I can say I’ve never enjoyed doing anything so much in my life. I’m a yoga and meditation teacher and yet, the process of pottery has proven to be my favorite form of therapy and the best teacher in regard to unattachment, patience, and letting go.
How would you describe your style of work, the materials you use and how you’re inspired?
I’m inspired by wabisabi rustic things that look like they’ve been unearthed. Which is funny since I gravitate toward stark white unmarred minimalist objects, but that’s not what feels right when I’m creating my pieces; they tend to be serene, quiet, and grounding and I love them for their flaws. Imperfection gives life and personality to handcrafted wares and I like to work with the materials I have at hand - the nature of the clay, a few simple favorite tools, and just see what direction the piece takes naturally. I started with a desire to make chawan (Japanese tea bowls) and yunomi (cups) and I’d watched a documentary in which a tea master mentioned how each of the antique chawan tells a story and the more you look at one, the more you see. I spend hours with each bowl and I feel like a little bit of however I felt at the time is reflected in each one, telling its own little story that I hope someone enjoys reading one day.
What are you favorite Mayco products to use? How do these products show off your work?
My “salt” (ie, I use it on nearly everything) is SW-303 Manganese Wash. It’s so versatile and it gives me nearly a dozen different ways to “dirty-up” a piece. I use a lot of subtle texture that may not be obvious and the stain gives me a way to either just add a little hint of the texture or really make it stand out. When I’m working with low-fire, Elements are my go-to. China Seas Classic Crackle is another favorite. The color itself is gorgeous, but using the stains underneath opens it up to a lot of happy surprises. And of course, the stoneware glazes. There are so many colors that fit my palette, they layer so well and give such variety that it never gets boring.
If you could make your work anywhere, where would you be and why?
Japan. Because….Japan. Rural setting, open sided pottery hut, kick wheel in the floor, apprenticing a master potter, and learning to disregard what I think is Japanese pottery and learning what it really means.
What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
Don’t get attached to any piece until it’s finished and on display. Detachment has always been a challenge for me and realizing that any piece can be destroyed or altered at any time during the process, my fault or not, was the most useful thing to understand. It’s taught me to let go of any expectations and enjoy the process and accept the results. Oops, the bottom of my chawan cracked? Yeay! New succulent pot! ;)
What superpower would you have?
Well, I doubt you can print the honest answer, so my second choice will have to do: the ability to defy gravity, to float.
First choice: I’d be able to make people spontaneously poop their pants. Seriously, wouldn’t that be a great non-violent crime fighting power? Whole armies could be stopped in their tracks and if they don’t pass out from the dehydration, they will from the stench. Plus, it would do wonders for getting that person who’s holding up the line at Starbucks to move along… ***We thought this answer was too funny to not include....as long as we're not the slow ones in the Starbucks line!
In addition to creating your own ceramic art, what are your hobbies?
Most of my past hobbies have found new life in ceramics! I sew (helpful for slab work), garden, paint with watercolors, study Japanese language and culture, and I love making my own tools from things I find in nature.
We were most drawn to Kitty's work because of her use of organic, earthy, and rustic tones with subtle hints of texture. Drawing inspiration from traditional Japanese ceramics, Kitty sends hours creating tea bowls and small cups (chawan and yunomi) to tell a story that reflects both herself and the world around her. We applaud Kitty's spiritual mindset of embracing the beauty of flawed, imperfect and unexpected results - something that we should all learn from!