“Wesley T. Brown isn’t interested in doing anything the easy way. The 28-year-old current resident at Baltimore Clayworks used to work toward creating obsessively uniform pottery. When he perfected that, he started making the largest vessels he could. When that got old, he started mixing chicken grit into the clay to give it a rough and unpredictable texture. That process cut up his hands, but he was hooked on this way of working: setting up a series of challenges within the making process and seeing what results from the fight with his materials.”
Suzy Kopf of Bmore Art interviews ceramicist and sculptor Wesley T. Brown, one of Baltimore Clayworks resident artists.
Read the article here.
I should use this letter to market the “Friends of Clayworks” program, but I’m not sure how to do it without it seeming corny, pushy, and inauthentic. “Come on down!!” “Eat at Joes!!”
When I got back to the United States after graduate school, I decided to go to the Met. Degas’ images and bronzes of dancers are some of my favorite things. They are so familiar to me, like the women I was closest with in high school, warming up at the barre with plies and releves. It had been a while, and I was so excited to see them again.
When I arrived, admission to the Met was $25. Which is a bargain given their collection, but to me it was a ton of money that I didn’t have. So, I couldn’t and didn’t go in to visit my old friends.
If you become a “member” of the Met you get free entry, a great benefit of the program. Baltimore Clayworks’ galleries are free and open to the public seven days a week. The “Friends of Clayworks” program is going to help keep it that way, as well as sustaining and growing all the ways the Baltimore Clayworks strives to support creativity, make the ceramic arts fully accessible, empower artists, and fully celebrate the joy of clay.
Fundraising, by its nature, puts people in an economic hierarchy. Money is a sensitive subject and as a person who is charged with fundraising I always try to acknowledge and respect that fact. The “Friends of Clayworks” gift levels begin at $40, and trust me that $40 does make a difference. For example, it can provide 25 pounds of clay and glazing and firing costs for artists in our community arts programs.
Please join the “Friends of Clayworks” program if you can, but also know that by being involved with Clayworks you are always a friend. Thank you.
And hey! How about all the flamingos at the Met Gala this year?
Your pal and confidant,
Our May Artist Spotlight feature is with Abilities Fellowship Artist Hannah Pierce. Hannah came to Baltimore Clayworks as our Abilities Fellow in the summer of 2018. She is a ceramic and mixed media artist who creates surreal, narrative-driven sculptures that juxtapose figures with elements from urban landscapes. She received her MFA in Ceramics from Edinboro University of PA and her BA in Studio Art from Humboldt State University of CA. Before graduate school, Hannah worked as an educator for people with developmental disabilities at The Studio and Cheri Blackerby Gallery, located in Eureka, California. Hannah teaches classes both onsite, in our Mt. Washington studio, and off-site with our many community arts partners.
Question #1: What kind of work do you make and why do you make it?
I make surreal sculptures incorporating distorted architectural components, bizarre characters, and complex, mature narratives juxtaposed with playful, child-like visuals. I have an obsessive drive to make these altered realities and I will honestly admit that other peoples’ approval and intrigue is rewarding and keeps me going.
Question #2: What drew you to clay?
I enjoyed the fact that I could shape it into any form as a surface to paint on. It allows me to experiment and play with dimension and I can’t imagine going back to painting on a flat, rectangular canvas.
Question #3: What is your fondest or funniest memory associated with clay?
I always laugh about how when I first took a ceramics class in as an undergraduate student at Humboldt State, I just ruined everything. I was terrible at it and just didn’t have the right touch. But as soon as I got a feel for the material, I began rapidly improving.
Question #4: What is something about yourself or your work that other people may not know about?
I think many people assume that my ideas come very naturally to me and I enjoy every minute of my process. But every sculpture is a ton of work to plan and execute. It is a very rigorous process with a lot of steps and struggles that go unseen.
Question #5: What is your favorite thing about Baltimore Clayworks?
The opportunities to teach at various on and off-site locations within the Community Arts program is my favorite thing about Clayworks. It gives a lot of under-served communities a chance to have a real art class without financial burdens. Through all the different classes I have taught this year, I feel like I have gotten to know this city in much more depth than I think most resident artists do.
You’re invited to Baltimore Clayworks’ Resident Artists’ Open Studio! Join us Friday, May 10th, from 6-9pm on the second floor of our studio building for an evening with our resident artists. Our artists will be in their studios and available for conversations, and Jason Piccoli and Hae Won Sohn will give demonstrations. Visiting Artist Yoshi Fujii may also be available for demos and questions. Light refreshments will be served.
Event is free and open to the public.
Hello and Happy April,
NCECA happened last week. It was my first time attending.
At the airport, on the way home, I ran into a man I had met briefly at the conference. He was reading Ceramics Monthly. I said, “How was the conference for you?” He replied, “Are you as excited to get back into your studio as I am?”
Conversations about making art can be delicate. What do you answer when someone asks if you aren’t an artist? At NCECA I learned a ton, met wonderful people, saw amazing ceramic art, and felt like an imposter because I’m not a ceramic artist. When he asked me that, I wanted to be able to say “YES!”, and I got a little bit jealous of his enthusiasm to get back into his studio and make new work.
On the flight back to Baltimore, as often happens when one is overwhelmed and tired, my mind tried to tackle existential turbulence and I wondered about my own lapsed studio practice. Then I binge watched YouTube videos of closing speeches delivered at other NCECA conferences, listening to stories about people’s paths to the medium of ceramics, how they have made clay applicable to social movements and abstract concepts, ways that lives have been transformed through the process of making. I thought about the nature of my job, reconciled my place in the world (for now), and realized I was excited to get back to work.
There are so many exciting programs that Baltimore Clayworks produces, pioneers, and emulates, and so much more innovative work to tackle in the field. It’s a thrilling time to be involved in the arts! Thank you for what you do in this intricate and fabulous community.
And how lovely is it to go away for five days and come back to daffodils in bloom?
Back to work now!