As an artist who is serious enough about clay to have gone to graduate school, earned an MFA, and who continues to share his passion for the art by teaching others, I am committed to craftsmanship and well executed artistry. But I don’t just make pots because it is a job I have trained for. I enjoy being creative and working with clay, and hopefully this is evident in my pots.
As one of my instructors, the great Ron Meyers, is able to show in his own work, striving to make the best pots possible doesn’t necessarily mean making sober ultra serious work. It can also mean that the pots themselves have a casual, unpretentious and playful character. I like to think of my work as “top notch crockery” because on the one hand my pots are good pots, but on the other hand I don’t take myself or my work too seriously. I can have fun at my own expense.
When I am teaching others I make the point that the most important thing they can do is have fun. A foundation of good skills and craftsmanship is an open door to the experimentation and creative inspiration that makes working with clay so enjoyable. So how would I describe myself as an artist? Seriously casual, dedicatedly loose, strictly unpremeditated, and above all committed to experimentation.
I make eclectic functional pots on the potters wheel, but love to jazz them up by adding decorative touches such as funky handles on vases, or by altering shapes to out of round. The pots end up pretty loose in character and my glazes accentuate the spontaneous nature of the way I work. No two pots are the same because making them different keeps me interested in the process.
I have come to view my exploration of clay as something like being a traveler in a foreign country. I speak the language, but I am not at home enough to take communication for granted. I actually enjoy the edge of this uncertainty, feeling it keeps my work from getting stagnant or stale through too much comfort or repetition. (1)
My endeavors are always adventures in discovery. Each lump of clay has its own destiny. I sometimes joke to myself that you can only be truly free from habit if you forget even the best of what you have done. My process therefore relies on the unexpected, and when the clay gods smile I am rewarded by surprises beyond the scope of my imagination.
Still, you can recognize my work and even see the influences that have shaped me. What gets expressed in every pot I make is this continually evolving relationship, the things I like and have learned from, the steady stream of influences from the world about me, and the particular challenges I take up in deciding where I will visit next in my exploration. I look at what other artists are doing and am continually amazed and inspired by the level of talent and creativity being expressed in contemporary ceramics.
“To live is to sink roots. Life is possible only to the extent that you find a place hospitable enough to receive you and allow you to settle down. What follows is a sort of symbiosis: Just as you grow into the world, the world grows into you. Not only do you occupy a certain place, but that place, in turn, occupies you. Its culture shapes the way you see the world, its language informs the way you think, its customs structure you as a social being. Who you ultimately are is determined to an important degree by the vast web of entanglements of “home.”
Uprooting is a devastating blow because you have to separate yourself overnight from something that, for as long as you can remember, has been an important part of your identity. In a sense, you are your culture, customs, language, country, your family, your lovers. Yet exile, should you survive it, can be the greatest of philosophical gifts, a blessing in disguise. In fact, philosophers, too, should be uprooted. At least once in their lives. They should be exiled, displaced, deported — that should be part of their training. For when your old world goes down it also takes with it all your assumptions, commonplaces, prejudices and preconceived ideas. To live is to envelop yourself in an increasingly thicker veil of familiarity that blinds you to what’s under your nose. The more comfortable you feel in the world, the blunter the instruments with which you approach it. Because everything has become so evident, you’ve stopped seeing anything. Exile gives you a chance to break free. All that heavy luggage of old “truths,” which seemed so only because they were so familiar, is to be left behind. Exiles always travel light.” Costica Bradatan