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Artist Spotlight: Wes Brown

Next up in our monthly Artist Spotlight series is Resident Artist Wes Brown. Wes came to Baltimore Clayworks as a Resident Artist in the summer of 2018. He has worked and studied as an artist in such places as Indiana, North Carolina, and Jingdezhen, China. He holds an Associates of Art from Sinclair Community College, a Bachelors of Fine Art from Bowling Green State University, and a Masters of Fine Arts from Indiana University. He now teaches in Baltimore at our Mt. Washington studio, our off-site Community Arts locations, and at Bard High School Early College.

Question #1: What kind of work do you make and why do you make it?
I make ceramic sculptures to convey ideas of time, struggle, and triumph. I make sculpture because I find it challenging and it allows me to bring my own physicality forward in my making process.

Question #2: What drew you to clay?
Clay is an amazing recorder of touch so when I first began I knew that it was up to me to learn how to manipulate it. And it was that accessibility and challenge that drew me.

Question #3: What is your fondest or funniest memory associated with clay?
My fondest memory in clay is when I opened my kiln to my first pieces in my Monument series. It had been my largest piece up until that point and I had been taking a great deal of risks so I was very nervous.  So when I opened the door to the kiln I was overjoyed to see all my risks had paid off and it was better than I expected.

Question #4: What is something about yourself or your work that other people may not know about?
The Monument series that I am working on was half mistake and half blind intention.  I improvised too much and forgot to measure the piece and it got to big for the kiln so I had to change from my original plan.

Question #5: What is your favorite thing about Baltimore Clayworks?
My favorite thing is the Baltimore Clayworks Workforce Development class I teach. It is constantly challenging and the students are full of energy and are always excited to be challenged and learn.

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February Letter from our Executive Director

Hello and Happy February,

There’s a lot I could share with you right now, but I’m going to get to the point of something that’s been on my mind lately.

It was brought to my attention the other day that our community meetings have become kind of boring. I’ve only been to one of them so, personally, I have nothing to compare it to, but I have to say that I sort of agree. The one in November felt like a nice bedtime story, where staff and committees reported in, not a lot of questions were asked, and people left either feeling good about the state of Clayworks, or questioning the authenticity of the meeting’s content.

I’ve been in my job now for almost 4 months, and I love it. But I wasn’t here during the turbulent recent times at Clayworks and so I ask for your patience while I work to navigate the community’s need for transparency and to feel confident that this wonderful organization is being well managed and cared for. With so many invested artists, students, patrons, and appreciators at its heart, Baltimore Clayworks is in a unique position.

One idea that came up, which I think is a good one, is to change the Community Meeting format, and instead to host conversations which are based on issues. That way people who are interested specifically in certain aspects of Clayworks can attend, hear updates as to what is being discussed, what has been decided on, and offer input into questions or issues that remain unanswered and unsolved. We are hopeful that this will invite more dynamic dialogue within smaller groups. The first of these Community Conversations will be facilitated by the co-chair of our Real Estate Committee, a group which is looking into ideas for the best and most strategic uses for our wonderful properties. It is scheduled for 5:30pm on March 14th, location TBD but it will be somewhere in Mount Washington Village. We will keep you posted.

I hope this will be an improvement over our Community Meetings. The world is filled with meetings, and we strive to be lively and not at all boring. I also invite you to share with me how you would like to be communicated with. Clayworks is an organization made up of the people it serves and we want you to feel comfortable. If you have ideas and suggestions for upcoming Community Conversation topics, please let me know. If you have specific questions or concerns, you can always call, email, or come by. We’d love to see you! And if I can’t answer your questions, I will find someone who can.

Warmly,

Cyndi Wish
Baltimore Clayworks Executive Director

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Artist Spotlight: Hae Won Sohn

We are starting a new monthly Artist Spotlight featuring artists from the Baltimore Clayworks community. First up are our Resident Artists, and are excited to introduce you to Hae Won Sohn!

Hae Won is an artist from Seoul, South Korea, primarily working in ceramics. She came to Baltimore Clayworks as a long-term Resident Artist in September 2018 and teaches in our Mt. Washington studio as well as at Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at the George Washington University.

Question #1: What kind of work do you make and why do you make it?
My work is mostly formed through mold-making and casting. I am attracted to the forms that are left over in my studio after serving its role as a part of a whole. Through casting those disregarded objects I feel like I am giving history that they deserve to have, but never was seen or heard.

Question #2: What drew you to clay?
Romance and familiarity. Being a natural maker since I was a kid, I have always loved playing around with play-dough, paper clay and other easily found materials in the house. It gave me somewhat confidence when it came to the moment I had to make a major-wise decision. Also the stereotypical image of a ceramicist portrayed in media contributed on my decision making.. which turned out not to be quite accurate but I am still enjoying what I became to be.

Question #3: What is your fondest or funniest memory associated with clay?
During the summer of 2016, I went on a trip to Southern Europe with my elder sister. We casually came across a porcelain studio called Porcelain Catbriyur in Ljubljana, Slovenia ran by an art-professor couple. We instantly connected with each other sharing knowledge and stories. This unplanned studio visit became one of my favorite memories during the whole trip.

Question #4: What is something about yourself or your work that other people may not know about?
The final product of my work are not always made of ceramics. Recently I have been presenting body of works that are finely polished cast plaster and gypsum cement that some mistakes as unglazed porcelain. Although clay still remains an essential material in my making process.

Question #5: What is your favorite thing about Baltimore Clayworks?
Baltimore Clayworks is one of the places I earned an opportunity to build up my very first teaching career. I really treasure the the interaction between me and my students, and am inspired by their eagerness to learn as well as the energy full of curiosity and joy they bring in the classroom studios.

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Introducing Baltimore Claywork’s new Accessibility Coordinator, Robin Marquis

In our commitment to equity and inclusion, we have created a new position of Accessibility Coordinator in order to better meet the needs of people with disabilities at Clayworks. Clayworks is committed to providing access for all folks to the best of our ability. We are constantly learning about the needs of our community and hope that you will be part of this process. If you have an accessibility need or concern, please email Robin Marquis at access@baltimoreclayworks.org. If you need more immediate help, please call our front desk at 410.589.1919, or Voice/TTY 800.552.7724

Robin Lynne Marquis (they/them pronouns) is a disabled fiber artist and facilitator, with over 10 years of experience building deep relationships to foster creative collaborations, dynamic programs and inclusive spaces. Marquis earned their MFA in Community Arts from MICA spring 2018’ and were a two-year recipient of the Leslie King Hammond Graduate Fellowship. Marquis also serves as the Accessibility Coordinator at The Peale Center while providing consulting on accessibility in arts organizations across Baltimore.

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Opening of New Exhibitions

EXHIBITIONS: Keystone Clay: East, Baltimore Clayworksforce Development Program Inaugural Show

LOCATION: Baltimore Clayworks, 5707 Smith Ave., Baltimore, MD 21209

DATES: January 12th – March 2nd, 2019; Opening Reception: January 19th from 6-8pm

HOURS: Monday – Friday: 10am – 4pm, Saturday – Sunday: 11am – 4pm

CONTACT: Mary Cloonan, Baltimore Clayworks Curator of Exhibitions, mary.cloonan@baltimoreclayworks.org

 

Baltimore Clayworks is excited to host Keystone Clay: East from January 12thto March 2nd, 2019. Opening reception will be Saturday, January 19thfrom 6-8pm.

This is the first of two exhibitions showcasing the ceramic programs at Pennsylvania colleges and universities. Our three Galleries will be displaying work from the professors and their students side by side, highlighting the ceramic education and inspiration. East will feature work by artists from Millersville University, Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia University of the Arts, Tyler School of Art and Westchester University. West will be from March 16th– May 11th, 2019 with Arcadia University, Edinboro University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Juniata College, Penn State, Slippery Rock University and Shippensburg University.

There are many reasons for this theme. Oftentimes, teachers are so focused on their students, fostering skills, maintaining the classroom that one’s own studio practice is neglected or Call for Entries slip by. Or the cost of applying and shipping to a show is too much for a student, so perhaps this will be their first exhibition…of many. New educational models are in place with post-baccalaureate students and adjuncts sharing the classroom responsibilities with tenured professors and Clayworks would like to celebrate those contributions.

Clayworks really wants to support those emerging artists. Our mission is to “develop, promote and sustain” artistic talent, whether that is in our own classrooms and community or with our neighbors to the North. In addition, we hope our proximity will encourage those students to visit us, to be introduced to our organization and facilities (Wood kiln!) and perhaps encourage them to apply for a residency or internship, so in turn we can bolster that facet of our programing.

We are envisioning and exhibition that will showcase a student’s success that a teacher helped bring into fruition. Celebrate the artistic growth they have nurtured, whether being expressed in functional wares, large scale sculpture, intriguing installations and any ideas in between.

Also on display will be Baltimore Clayworksforce Development Program Inaugural Show from January 11thto March 2nd, 2019. There will be a soft opening reception on Friday, January 11thfrom 1-2:30.

Baltimore Clayworks Community Arts program has partnered with Baltimore City Public Schools Transition Services of the Office of Special Education to create a new, innovative classroom where students explore creative ceramic practices along with developing skills they can apply to future work environments. The youth in this program are between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one and are new to ceramics. Over the past few months they have developed fundamental ceramic skills along with a knowledge of studio maintenance, firing practices and glazing. The students have had a chance to develop their fine motor skills and practice articulating and discussing their creative process in addition to developing a basic understanding of ceramic techniques. Along with the art work, students’ artist statements are on display throughout the space.

Both exhibitions are free and open to the public

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Doug Baldwin, in Memoriam

The entire Baltimore Clayworks community is saddened by the death on Monday, December 10 of our friend and colleague.

Doug Baldwin, famous for his whimsical duck sculptures (duck stadiums, ducks playing games, ducks in studios) was professor of ceramics at Maryland Institute College of Art for 34 years. After retiring, Doug returned to his beloved home state of Montana, lived near his daughter and grandchildren, and became active in the life of The Clay Studio of Missoula. While in Baltimore, Doug engaged many of his ceramics students with the work of Baltimore Clayworks through internships, community teaching and events, keeping the two institutions connected, lively and mutually supportive. Arrangements for a celebration of Doug’s life are incomplete at this time.

Remembering Doug Baldwin: 1939 – 2018

Dec 15, 2018 for the National Council for the Education of Ceramic Arts

Doug Baldwin. Our Doug. Our Duck Man. How can it be that there will be no more red clay ducks in falling from his fingertips? Who will tell the stories of how artists and other peculiar humans behave in all kinds of situations through the metaphor of a few hundred ducks, or a few thousand ducks? Or maybe a million ducks? Doug, you left us too soon with the present stories of our time still needing your narrative.

Doug’s warmth, humor and keen awareness of the human condition gave voice to so many of us again and again as ducks large, small and in multitudes acted out our experiences.  His Great Duck Pottery School Series speaks to students and makers who have had a life in ceramics, portraying our first sad attempts at throwing bowls and firing kilns. We are able to laugh at ourselves, our teachers and  our colleagues with him, a warm and gentle laugh, a knowing chuckle. We are able to enjoy sports and games not as static sculptural statements, but as immediately engaged participants, and enjoying the familiarity and foibles of ourselves and our fellow humans, even if we are created by Doug Baldwin as just ducks.

Doug was wholeheartedly committed to the studio, making art every day, making the ducks and their environments all the time. But the making was not a solitary pursuit for Doug; it was, like the finished pieces, a shared pursuit.  And sharing that joy of making infused Doug’s life and interactions with everyone he touched. Here in Baltimore, Doug cheerfully, readily, shared the resources, his professional networks and the students of Maryland Institute College of Art with Baltimore Clayworks and scores of other artists and organizations.  He connected institutions by sending  interns to work and learn in community settings. He held gatherings in his home for artists to show images and talk about their work.  Doug not only created communities of ducks, he created communities of artists and students. national and international, united by clay.

Volker Schoenfliess, a Baltimore Clayworks co-founder, sculptor, and head of ceramics at Baltimore School for the Arts remembers, ”He was a kind and quirky influence. I never had him as an instructor, but met him through the clay circuit. I remember the events he held at his Bolton Hill home, and once had the honor of being invited to give a slide presentation of my work there. Thank you Doug.”

A particularly significant collaboration took place in 1992  when three Baltimore institutions-Maryland Institute, Baltimore Clayworks and the Contemporary Museum- joined forces to site Jimmy Clark’s brilliantly curated “Contemporary East European Ceramics” in the former St. Stanislaus Convent.  Doug had travelled extensively in Eastern Europe, and took a special  interest in hosting artists Jindra Vikova (Czech Republic) and Czelaw Podlesny (Poland), involving them with Baltimore’s communities and Maryland Institute students.  This phenomenal exhibition and its programs with the artists were visited by more than 2,500 individuals over a six week period. One Saturday evening Doug called the organizers to let us know that Jindra was hosting a breakfast the next morning in her apartment, and that we must come. When we arrived, we found a beaming Doug seated with Jindra and her husband, Pavel Banka, at the kitchen table with only some paper plates and plastic cups, a  large Braunsweiger sausage, a knife  and a bottle of Jim Beam.  Jindra announced, “We are having a little Viskey Brunch.” Doug with a benevolent smile proudly said, “This was all her idea.” And we joined in!

Encouraging people to move forward with an individual vision, without judgement but with an inclusive spirit was a hallmark of Doug’s teaching and professional interactions. Whether preparing to attend NCECA, frequently in the company of Dennis Parks and Verne Funk, and finding ways to get students to the conference, collaborating on an exhibition with Baltimore Clayworks, or teaching a room full of undergraduate first- time clay students, Doug’s attitude and his stance was to give things a try and see what happens. He would say about most things – “don’t worry too much about technique”.

Ron Lang, Doug’s colleague and co-conspirator in clay at Maryland Institute framed it this way,  “ He was an inspirational muse for four decades of devoted students at MICA. Doug’s teaching made space for the students to really be themselves and in doing so, he gave them permission to be more authentic and to take bigger risks.”

Kim Robledo, now a program director at Cooper-Hewitt, the Smithsonian’s design museum in New York, says of her undergraduate years (1991-95) as a ceramics major with Doug, “ Doug always encouraged the possible. I guess when a man spends his clay career making thousands of ducks, he has the power to make you believe there is no idea that clay cannot explore. I thank Doug for giving me this gift as an artist. I also thank him for showing me how to properly eat a Maryland crab.”

Anthony Stellachio, one of Doug’s students and the newly minted Director of Studio Potter and a member of  the  International Academy of Ceramics,  credits Doug with being a major career influence. He says, “Doug Baldwin is one of those people whom I think about and marvel at how my life might have been different without him. He connected me to Eastern Europe, a favorite haunt of his, and that has affected – even defined – my personal and professional life even today.”

“Doug didn’t do that because he was a larger than life personality who singled me out for my potential and decided to change my life. No, Doug was a humble and quiet man with a generous spirit. He believed in the potential of all of his students, and he did anything he could for them.  Well, he did everything he could for them except give us assignments. In fact, the only instruction he ever gave us as sophomores was to “fill up the table” with work. Doug trusted us, and he thought of us as artists. God bless him, some of us still are.

Regardless of the influence that Doug had on his students at Maryland Institute and artists here in Baltimore, Doug longed to be in his native Montana and always planned to retire there.  He did just that in 2004, moving close to his daughter Tracy and his grandchildren. That was where he felt grounded and alive. Doug was extremely productive in Montana and made numerous duck- populated pieces about “these Montana woodfiring potters”. He became involved with film and video, using this work as content. Once he called me to talk about The Clay Studio of Missoula, where he found a warm and welcoming community of like-minded makers who were down to earth and accepting. He was clearly at home in Missoula.

Doug and his ducks will forever remain a singular artistic legacy in the field of ceramics. But more than the actual physical genius of the work he leaves in the world, for those of us who knew and loved him, he leaves behind a legacy of all that is authentic, good and cherished in clay: a lifelong commitment to the studio, inspired and intentional teaching, and a genuine, unselfish impulse to advance the ceramic well being of others. Doug Baldwin set the bar much higher in his time among us.

Deborah Bedwell, ceramic artist

Founding Executive Director, Baltimore Clayworks

Past –President, NCECA (2012-2017)

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