Rat City Living - Jon Johnson

John Johnson


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Website: www.johnsonclay.com

Bio:
Jon first began to cultivate a love of clay as a student at Texas Tech University. Learning to throw on the potter’s wheel, he quickly learned to appreciate the simple rhythm of making with an intuitive, highly moveable material. Jon experimented with several different firing methods before becoming enraptured with the surface qualities achieved through the soda firing process and has been utilizing this technique almost exclusively in the time since then. Jon graduated from Texas Tech with a BFA in 2011, dabbled in the world of IT and graphic design between 2012 and 2016, and worked as a studio tech at the Helen Devitt Jones Clay Studio on the LHUCA campus in Lubbock, Texas from 2015 to 2017. In the summer of 2017, he knocked off around 800 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail before heading out to begin a yearlong assistantship with Deb Schwartzkopf at Rat City Studios in Seattle, Washington.

Artist Statement:
Making pots is a meditative act. In working with porcelain, I am afforded the ability to create a clean canvas upon which I build layers of glaze in loose patterns. To push these patterns further, I utilize atmospheric firing environments to speak to the pots about Nature in order to develop a wilder surface. I take great delight in the opening of a freshly fired kiln. The discovery of this “unknown” is what drives me to make pots in the manner that I do. The drawings I have begun to incorporate onto the surface of my pots are derived from psychic automatism sketching practice, wherein I focus the mind to be blank in an effort to allow my subconscious to spill forth through the pen. I see this as an extension of uncovering the “unknown,” instead focusing within my mind, rather than on the outside world. To understand the true character of things is at the forefront of why I make; ultimately, I seek to create pottery that encourages use by invoking a sense of natural wonder.

How have you come to work with Rat City Studios:
I started at Rat City as an assistant on August 1st of this year, and I hit the ground running with a few busy weeks of events and studio upgrades. Getting to know the local clay community through Deb has been a wonderful and humbling experience thus far, and I’m looking forward to that continuing throughout the year. While here, I’m converting (at least temporarily) to the cone 6 electric environment for my work, and I am really excited by some of the possibilities I’ve come across. Over the next year, I plan to continue the push to get my work into shows and further develop my online presence.

Rat City Living - Rickie Barnett

Rickie Barnett


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Website: rickiebarnett.weebly.com

Bio:
Rickie Barnett grew up in the Northern California city of Redding. He attended California State University, Chico, receiving a Bachelors of Fine Art degree with an emphasis in painting and ceramics. After Graduating in the fall of 2013 he took up a year long position as an Artist in Residence at Taos Clay Studio in Taos, NM. He has just finished up a long term position in the Seattle area where he worked as an assistant for George Rodriguez and Deborah Schwartzkopf at Ceramistas Seattle ( now known as Rat City Studios). He is now gearing up to move to North Carolina to take up a position as the studio assistant to Cristina Cordova.

Artist Statement:
My work is an internal look at the preeminent issues of being bound to another and the affects it has on an individual.  The malleable nature of clay allows for a quicker way of working in a highly detailed manner. I work figuratively creating characters based on the struggle of balancing relationships, placing them in an open narrative where they can revisit emotions experienced but not quite understood. I strive to provide a sympathetic relation to narrative in the restlessness of living in one’s headspace, an effort to stay honest with myself and my loved ones.  The continual self assessment within our interactions bears fruit which nourishes the bond and eases vulnerability, harvesting growth. 

How have you come to work with Rat City Studios:
In the early summer of 2015, I was living in a small cabin behind Toas Clay Studio in Taos, NM. My residency was coming to an end and I was in the mist of the ever so chaotic task of trying to figure out what the next step was going to be. My partner at the time had just received a position at Cook on Clay, on Whitbey Island. I had been wanting to get up to the northwest for some time but I didn't want to make the commitment of moving to an island, without a studio. I had recently read an article about Deb's studio in Ceramic Monthly and decided to reach out to her. I knew the deadline for her assistantship position had past but after perusing her website and seeing how connected she was with so many artists in the area, I decide to reach out to her and see if she could point me in the direction of someone needing assistance. To my surprise, she got back to me within a few hours and said that she had an opening available at her studio and that I was welcome to apply. Within a few more days she offered me the position and with great enthusiasm I accepted. 

Shortly after that Deb offered me an opportunity of a lifetime. She had picked up an old 1963 Aloha camper at an estate sale. It needed a lot of work and she gave me the opportunity to live in it, next to the studio, if I could fix it up. I had never done any trailer remodels but I figured I could accomplish it with the help of the internet. It turned out to need a complete rebuild. This was one of the hardest things I have ever taken on by myself. It was also, the beginning of me realizing how Deb goes about mentoring her assistants. 

Deb is not the kind of mentor to hold your hand and help you through something. She will be the first one to tell you that she's not afraid to voice her disappointment in you either. She will balance the strengths you have with the direction in which you want to go and push you to grow and sharpen those skills, no matter how painful. Along the way you will also learn about a bunch of stuff you didn't even know you would be interested in. She will challenge you all day and call you on your bullshit. If you need guidance or are interested in a certain aspect of her work you need to ask for that guidance and that information. You want a crit, ask for it. Otherwise she will just let you keep working. Deb is not interested in reading your mind and she is not interested in babysitting your career. She is interested and driven to help you learn how to swim on your own. If you start sinking and feel like you are drowning, she will get in the water with you and talk you through the strokes you need to make you keep your head above water. She will not bring you a life preserver.  You need to figure this out on your own. But at the end of the day she might invite you out for a beer and talk to you about life and where you want to go. 

Deb Schwartzkopf is a shark. She can not stop moving and if she did she'd probably die. Her sense of urgency is out of this world. If it is decided at a morning meet that the kiln shed needs to be extended, she wants to know if it can be done by the end of the day. You will learn to not doubt that this is, in fact, possible. You will learn to not doubt yourself as much as you have in the past. 

My time at Rat City was easily one of the best times of my life. Both my work and myself grew immensely. I made life long friends and found myself finding huge strides in my work. Deb Schwartzkopf changed my life in a huge way and even though I'm now living on the other side of the country I know, for a fact, that Deb will always have my back when I need it. Even if that's in her telling me to stop bitch and get back in the studio. 

Rat City Living - Zak Helenske

Zak Helenske


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Website: www.zakhelenske.com

Bio:
Zak Helenske was born and raised in Fargo, ND. There, he earned his BFA in Ceramics at North Dakota State University in 2009. Completing his MFA in Ceramics and Ceramic Sculpture at Rochester Institute of Technology’s School for American Crafts in 2014 led him to an art practice that crossed disciplines. Zak has been a visiting artist nationally at University of South Carolina, McNeese State University, University of Washington, and internationally at Akademia Sztuk Peinknych in Gdansk, Poland. He has taught at University of Washington, 3D4M and Rochester Institute of Technology, School for American Crafts. In 2015 Zak moved to Seattle with his partner, artist Mya Kerner, to be an Artist in Residence at Pottery Northwest. Since completing his residency in January he has set up a studio in Ballard where he maintains a full time studio practice. In May of 2017 he was named Emerging Artist by Ceramics Monthly.

Artist Statement:
I am a potter who is interested in the development of form and the exploration of pattern. My work is wheel thrown and hand built with a gritty terra cotta clay. Surface drawings act as a framework to the pots’ forms with slip work to designate positive and negative space.  By layering patterns on top of each other, carving the surface in and scraping the drawings away, I hope to integrate the surface into the form rather than onto the form. These drawings are then highlighted with a bright white porcelain slip. The immediacy of the brushwork mirrors the directness of the drawings, and the dimensionality of the materials completes the link between form and pattern. I look to industrial and architectural situations for formal references and use geometry as a language to communicate these observations. My labor is in the pursuit of an object that rests in balance, in beauty, and in nuance. I am interested in the intersection between the current pace of development in our designed world and traditional approaches to materials; clay is the medium I have chosen to navigate this crossroad.

How have you come to work with Rat City Studios:
I finished a two-year residency at Pottery Northwest in January of 2017. I wanted to stay in Seattle, hoping to continue the momentum I had built while in residence. My goal was to set up a home studio, but the housing culture in Seattle is fierce. I knew my partner(also an artist, and also looking for studio space) and I needed time to find the right place. Deb called me to offer me a small studio at Rat City, and with the understanding of what my goals were, she offered me a short term lease on a studio there. I worked at Rat City for 3 months absorbing all the great energy she is building around her community. It allowed me the time and space to continue developing my work in a new environment. I have since found a studio in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, where I maintain a full time studio practice. My time at Rat City Studios was wonderful; Deb’s dedication to her work and to her community has left a great impression on me.

 

Rat City Living - Angie Cunningham

Angie Cunningham


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Website: www.cunninghamceramics.com

Bio:
Angela Cunningham first took a ceramics class at the suggestion of a high school teacher during Saturday detention. After receiving her BA in Philosophy from the College of William and Mary, she decided to put her degree on a shelf and pursue her love for art and ceramics.  She continued her art education in a post-baccalaureate  program at U-Mass Dartmouth, and soon after received an MFA from Penn State University in 2004. She is currently a studio artist working at Mudflat Studio in the Boston area.

Artist Statement:
I make objects that beg to be touched. Through sensuous surfaces, intricate details, and provocative imagery, I strive to draw viewers near to explore. As much as I want to seduce, I equally want to push people away – to awe with the beauty of an object and perhaps repulse with the details.

The imagery in my pieces is drawn largely from forms in nature. I am inspired by the seductive textures, elegant lines, and fertile energy of flowers. Fruits and vegetables fascinate me with their tantalizing colors, dense seed structure, and grotesque beauty.  The human body enters here and there – the curve of a hip, the softness of belly.

More and more, my obsessive process feeds the content of my work. I have given myself over to investment. Every part is sensitively considered, well-loved; details are rendered with an attentiveness that borders on obsession. I strive to capture a sense of exquisiteness in its richest definition.

How have you come to work with Rat City Studios:
Deb generously hosted me as Rat City Studio’s first visiting artist in spring 2017. Every day for two months, I witnessed an incredible sense of community and leadership. Deb heads the studio with the entrepreneurial drive of a businessperson, the care of a teacher, and the spirit of a pioneer woman. It was inspirational to observe and participate.

The time I spent at Rat Studio set the stage for my most productive studio time in years. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity and the generosity of everyone connected to the studio! 

Rat City Living - Eliane Medina

Eliane Medina


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Website: www.elianemedina.com

Bio: 
Eliane Medina is a potter currently working as a studio assistant for Deborah Schwartzkopf at Rat City Studios. She graduated from Central Washington University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in studio art.

Clay has been of interest to Eliane since a young age. She often made small sculptures with polymer clay until her first year at Green River Community College. There, she took her first pottery class and learned to throw on the wheel. After declaring her major at CWU, Eliane took several more ceramics classes and is now focused on clay as her main medium. She plans to continue to work toward becoming a full-time studio potter.

Artist Statement:
Being surrounded by people every day, I observe subtle details about both strangers and acquaintances. I find that I am not the only human with imperfections, insecurities, and daily embarrassing moments and mistakes. I see beauty in what society deems to be imperfect, and I have discovered that there are countless versions of what constitutes “beauty”. My work steps away from society’s conventional beauty. I want my work to reveal the fact that we are all different, we are all odd, and in those ways we are all very much the same.

I love that the pieces are to be held and felt, with both the hands and the lips. As we get to know a person we start to see them as a whole. We learn about them and understand their complexities, including their imperfections, often bringing us closer together. This is what I hope my pots can do. As someone lives with one of my pieces, I hope it can continue to offer new details. 

I strive to create work that resonates with all walks of life, simply because of being human.

How have you come to work with Rat City Studios:
In June, 2017, I moved to Seattle from Ellensburg, Washington, where I attended college at Central Washington University. I am now working as a studio assistant for Deb Schwartzkopf at Rat City Studios. In my three short months here, I have quickly settled into this new studio as well as a new home. Deb’s setup here is an inspiration to me and I am gaining great experience in learning what kind of work goes into running a pottery studio. My own work is developing as well, and it is great to be surrounded by other artists who I can connect with and learn from. I am excited to be here working with Deb who has so much knowledge about pottery and running a business of her own. I will be using this year to continue developing my work, applying to exhibitions, making connections, and overall focusing on creating my life as an artist.

Rat City Living - Nan Coffin

Nan Coffin


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Website:  www.nancoffin.com  and www.thirdpottery.com

Bio:
As a self-employed potter who works alone, yet enjoys being and socializing with others, clay is a medium I am able to use to interact with people on a daily basis. I enjoy making and using functional kitchen ware and table service. When others use my pots in their day-to-day activities, itʼs a way for me to communicate and share with them a part of myself. Itʼs the ultimate compliment when others want to reach out, pick up and ultimately use a piece of my work.
The pottersʼ wheel is often the first tool utilized in my work. I begin with thrown pieces and continue to alter, shape and manipulate the clay off the wheel. When determining ʻwhat to makeʼ, the decision often falls to the need for how a particular piece will be used in food service, either in the preparation or serving of food and how it will be presented in a table setting. 

Artist Statement:
I grew up in central Indiana, received a BA in journalism from Ball State University, worked for a short time in my ʻthenʼ area of expertise, traveled the US and returned back to central Indiana to set up a clay studio.
A lusting to make things from clay was all it took to get me started and in the mid-1970ʼs I set up shop in Whitestown, Indiana on a shoestring budget. I am a self-taught potter, having no academic training in the medium. Fortunately, I did have guidance and support from my former husband; with that, an old truck and a strong back, a small studio building took shape. Soon to follow were hand built kick wheels, two kilns from scrapped fire bricks (one, a small wood burner; the other, fueled by #2 furnace oil); clay mixed by hand, ware boards and a huge learning curve.

My ideas combined with works from various media, influential artists, shapes and colors I saw in the world were incorporated into the pieces I made. When I saw a form, a decorating technique, a color or a pattern that struck my fancy, that particular impression was filed away and I tried to create it in my own style, making it ʻmy ownʼ.

In the early 1980ʼs, I moved to Paoli, Indiana and set up my second studio, Log Creek Pottery. As we started a family, I put clay on hold for several years and found great joy in raising our children. As fortunate as I was to be a stay-at-home mom, my eye was never far from the ideas and vision of pieces I wanted to create.The decision to postpone clay work is one Iʼll always treasure. Clay would always be there, children are in oneʼs care for only a short while.

Twenty years later, I relocated to San Diego, California and have started yet another studio,Third Pottery, with new inspiration. With great favor, Iʼve been able to travel to other countries and study their cultures; through these adventures, the evolution of my work in clay progresses. I continue to find inspiration from my rich experiences and work diligently to encompass those unique influences into the pieces I make. Affirmation comes to me when folks choose to use my work in their homes, their lives, sharing food and celebration with family and friends. 

How have you come to work with Rat City Studios:
In August 2016, I was invited to participate in Deb Schwartzkopf’s Build or Bust- Teapots summer event. It proved to be a lovely time in Deb’s studio working alongside committed, engaged, talented artists, sharing their knowledge, expertise, points of view and humor.

Collaboration of ideas, and assembling parts and pieces for teapots was delightful and stimulating; the environment of the studio and surrounding gardens (which provided much of our gourmet lunches and dinners) was an added pleasure.

As the weekend culminated, the local community participated in a terrific potluck where the invited artists were able to share in lively conversations regarding work created through the weekend. 

 

Rat City Living - Tilly Troelstrup

Tilly Troelstrup


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Website: www.tillytroelstrup.com

Bio: 
Born and raised in Oak Park, Illinois I graduated from the Illinois State University BFA program in 2014.  This provided a foundation in clay and woodworking that pushed me to pursue further studies. I utilized a summer staff session at Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts to explore handbuilding. This informed my Post Baccalaureate program at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado where I made a switch to mixed media wall installations.  Since then I have had the honor of participating in: A short-term residency at Taos Clay Studios in Taos, New Mexico. Assisting in the development of, and teaching of a workshop for Women’s Empowerment, complete with kiln-building and marketing classes, in Kerala, India. A short-term assistantship with Cook on Clay in Coupeville, Washington. An assistantship at Ceramistas Seattle (a.k.a. Rat City Studios) in Seattle, Washington.

In 2016, I completed a bicycle tour from Seattle, Washington to Los Angeles, California as a means of recuperation and reflection. Interning for Sunshine Cobb at Sidecar Ceramics, I currently reside in Sacramento, California. I am focusing on finding what’s most important to me: Balance in the studio. Outward and inward exploration. Biking and not forgetting to eat. 

Artist Statement:
“Every communication is either an extension of love or a call for love”
-Anonymous

Making is a part of who I am, whether I like it or not, and is my way of remaining honest in a society that rewards masks and fictitious personalities.  Leaving the studio alone, on foot or by bicycle, each new place I explore inspires me by the relationships I witness and engage in, no matter how brief. Abstracting the participants and paring the encounters down to simple but repetitive marks or faceless, disproportioned figures, I am able to expand upon my observations and learn lessons that I may then apply to my growing list of, “how to be genuine in a fearful world.” Recreating the simplicity and complexity that is the human experience, while taming my anxious mind, is best achieved by moving between processes and materials in the studio. The clay’s sensitivity at varying stages speaks to my own sensitivity as well as my interest in the ability to adapt to human error. Red, low-fire clay is representative of my desire to create a warm and sustainable lifestyle. 

How have you come to work with Rat City Studios:
January 2016 I joined what was then Ceramistas Seattle as an assistant for 6 months. My experience there reminds me that being honest and conscientious are quite possibly the most important things to practice in art and in life. Rocky, sums up my experience better than I am able to:

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place. And I don’t care how tough you are. It will beat you to your knees and keep you permanently there if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life, but it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now if you know what you are worth, go out and get what you are worth, but you gotta be willing to take the hits and not point fingers, saying you ain’t where you want to be because of him or her or anybody. Cowards do that, and that ain’t you. You’re better than that.”

–Rocky Balboa

 

Rat City Living - Canne Holladay

Canne Holladay


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Website:  www.evelyncanne.com

Bio: 
Canne Holladay was born and raised in Birmingham, AL. She graduated from Auburn University, with a Bachelors of Fine Art degree concentrating in Ceramics. After graduation she moved to Seattle, Washington to be a 2016-2017 studio assistant for Deborah Schwartzkopf at Rat City Studios. Her artwork has been featured in exhibitions and publications in Alabama, Georgia, Washington, Connecticut, Philadelphia, and Colorado.

Holladay is fascinated with small aspects of life, from discoveries made in the dirt as a child, to the observation of how a person is the sum of the many individuals with whom they surround themselves. This interest in small parts reflects in her work. In addition to working with clay she enjoys spending time with loved ones, knitting, sewing, and baking. 

Artist Statement:
Microscopic images, with cells clustered to form tissues, draw a parallel between the details and patterns in life and the routine of living. A cell can be defined as “any one of the very small parts that together form all living things.” I observe how a person is the sum of the many individuals with whom they surround themselves.

I am facilitating the consideration of how my functional objects uniquely relate to individuals. I consider how the form and adornment of each piece relates to its function, and how the external action of using the object relates to the body’s internal reaction. For example, a cup, an intimate object excites senses of touch, smell, and taste as one ingests its contents. Upon entering the body an internal reaction takes place as fluid is filtered throughout the body. I am interested in this rhythm of process within the body, and the layers of action and reaction are meant to be uncovered through use, as one might realize a friend over time. 

How have you come to work with Rat City Studios:
Canne Holladay worked at Rat City Studios as a 2016-2017 Studio Assistant to Deborah Schwartzkopf. During her time at Rat City Studios she worked on a number of projects such as shelf construction, casting and pressing bricks, changing kiln elements, and printing t-shirts. In her own practice, Canne took the year to develop intimate sized functional work fired to Cone 6. Throughout the year the studio often had a form of the month, which encouraged everyone to explore forms like butter boxes, jugs, pitchers, teapots, and shakers. Canne used these challenges to expand her repertoire of form, think about how many pots work in a group, contemplate how curves and symmetry are important in her work, and to consider her patterns on different types of forms. Her year in Seattle at Rat City Studios was eye opening about what can be done and what must be done to work in and contribute to the field of ceramics. 

Rat City Living - Vanessa Norris

Vanessa Norris


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Website:  www.vanessamnorris.com

Bio:
Vanessa Norris grew up in a small town in Maine and spent much of her time drawing and observing as a young person. Craving to get out of her comfort zone, she enrolled in Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston to pursue a life of working with her hands, and it was there she discovered and cultivated a love for clay. Since then, she has moved across the country several times to work for different ceramic artists, including Bruce Larrabee in Park City, UT and Deb Schwartzkopf in Seattle, WA. In addition to assisting and learning from those in her field, Vanessa has instructed courses at MassArt, Moshier Art Center in Burien, WA, Indigo Fire in Belmont, MA, and Maud Morgan in Cambridge, MA. Vanessa is an Artaxis member and exhibits her pots across the United States. She currently lives and works in Boston.

Artist Statement:
At the core of Cloud 9 is perception, and that starts with how the work is viewed from far away versus up close. I make voluminous, buoyant--almost “Seussical”--forms that will potentially grab attention but incorporate white designs on a white clay body in an effort to separate those who will come closer from those who will but glance at my work. Visually, white does not stand out against gallery walls or in the kitchen cupboard; it is a common color for cheap, manufactured ceramic tableware. This lends itself nicely to adding unexpected, tactile elements to my pieces--present only for those who choose to stop, to touch, to ponder. There is a difference between looking and seeing; the interaction (or lack of interaction) is as much a part of my work as the work itself.

Poetry is another important part of how I communicate. It is an internal conversation I have with myself--a different way of processing and cementing what I cannot yet vocalize, and it acts as the grout that holds the shards of my practice together. I am handing you the blueprints to navigate my thoughts--but you as the viewer must first put in the effort. The recognizable iconography of the cloud provides an access point to enter the language of my work. It allows space for reflection on the role cloud idioms play in our perception of the world and our relationships. The small nuances of the everyday are what make a life, after all. For those who take the time, tableware provides an intimate way to experience art.

How have you come to work with Rat City Studios:
Freshly graduated from college, I picked up my life and moved to the opposite side of the country to assist Deb at Rat City Studios. It was quite the move, and though I had never been to Seattle, I had my sights set on working for Deb since I heard about her program a year or so prior.

The year put forth many opportunities to grow. I rekindled my love for writing and photography to complement my practice. Though I am neither athletic nor an early riser, I woke up at three in the morning and biked six miles to my part-time job nearly five days of the week. I watched and learned from Deb, soaking up the triumphs and pitfalls that come with being an artist. And I made a home there--in the pages of my sketchbook and in between each line of poetry. My time at Rat City Studios came and went, but the year will echo and reverberate in my brain, pushing forth new ideas long after I’m gone.

I have returned to Boston for the foreseeable future to pursue opportunities here. This summer, I divided my time between teaching at Indigo Fire, instructing a high school summer intensive course at MassArt, and being a teaching assistant for Kyla Toomey at Harvard Ceramics. I had access to those facilities to continue making my work, so I was able to create new pieces for my portfolio and sell through various venues. This fall, I plan to continue making/teaching at local ceramics studios. I am also embarking on a new path with my partner, Gustavo Barceloni. We are in the process of setting up our own ceramics space called Dirty E Studios in Everett, MA. The first step in the process is to raise the funds necessary to hire an electrician and insulate the space, among other things. To accomplish our goal, we will be launching an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign on September 8th (the link will be posted on my website and Instagram on that day).

If you need me, you can find me working on the new studio, at an open mic poetry night, or sitting by the Charles River esplanade--still with clay covered jeans and my head in the clouds.

http://www.vanessamnorris.com/dirty-e-studios

 

Rat City Living - Deb Schwartzkopf

Curator for Rat City Exhibition - Deborah Schwartzkopf


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Website: www.ratcitystudios.com/deborah-schwartzkopf

About the Show:
Each individual that is in this show has worked or works with me in some context.  Many of the invited artists are past or current studio assistants.  Others are studio renters or guest artists.  Still others have participated in a yearly invitational where I invite artists to work together for a weekend in my studio. Some of us have kept in touch over many years.  Still others are new to the Rat City Family.  I hope these opportunities both highlight their work, keep us in touch, and provide a motivating deadline.  I am excited to see what everyone has made myself! Enjoy!

Why did you start Rat City Studios:
Rat City Studios is my studio workspace, but it is more than just that. My aim is to build the community of artists working in clay by offering studio assistant positions for emerging artists, connecting people through social and educational events, and maintaining a lively, professional career in the ceramic arts! 

Rat City Studios consist of a residential home property, two studio work areas, a well-equipped kiln yard, and garden space. My home is a 1200 square foot rambler with a full daylight basement.  The basement is completely used for studio use. It includes a secondary bathroom, a packing and shipping room, a small kitchenette, rented studio spaces and my studio space - every inch is put to good use!   There is a secondary 750 square foot building which is used as a teaching classroom and also has spaces for up to three studio assistants.  

I began having studio assistants for several reasons:  I needed extra hands in the studio to get everything done, I wanted to have a meaningful impact and dialogue within the clay community, and I worked for amazing potters and got so much out of it so I hope I can do the same for others. The assistants apply to join in a year-long position, trading their time for studio space. Together we do lots of chores, building projects, promotion projects, have exhibitions, have discussions, drink beer, do more chores, manage deadlines, make things with clay, do more chores etc... I want this to be a place where art making, daily living and experiential learning fuse. To read more details about the position read on...

Another project the assistants and I work on are the Resource Pages on the RCS Website. These are for myself, people working at the studio, friends in the field or anyone who happens upon them.  There is a glaze resource page, links to resources for making it as an artist, safety in the studio links, and much more.  

Further community building endeavors include weekly clay classes for all levels, specialized technique based clay workshops, seminars on professional development as an artist, our annual summer party-potluck, and participation in Urban Farm Events. I find having these at my home-studio is a fabulous way to meet people living just blocks away.  The studio is hopping and full of life!  Learning is a passion of mine.  I want to keep growing in ways to give back to the community.  

Bio:
Deb was born and raised in Seattle, Washington.  She earned a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Alaska (1999-2002) and worked for studio potters in the Anchorage area.  During a year long independent study at San Diego State University, she focused mainly on glazing. Deb completed a Masters of Fine Arts at Penn State in May of 2005. Since then she has taught at Ohio University, Massachusetts College of Art and Design and the University of Washington.  She has worked nationally at the Archie Bray Foundation (MT), Mudflat Studios (MA), The Clay Studio (PA), Pottery Northwest (WA), Watershed (ME), and internationally at Sanbao in Jingdezhen, China, and the Residency for Ceramics-Berlin in, Germany.  Deb also had the pleasure of teaching with the University of Georgia’s study abroad program in Cortona, Italy for a semester. She has taught over 80 workshops and exhibited all around the country, as well as internationally. After ten years of traveling for education, residencies, and teaching appointment Deb moved back to Seattle in 2009.  Since buying a house and studio space in 2013, she has been busy doing projects to create a beautiful, functional space to make pots.  Between herself, her studio assistants, studio members who rent space, and people participating in classes all work in clay, they keep the wheels turning! 

Artist Statement:
Momentum, Curiosity, Community

In order to make pottery I must approach the clay with openness and practiced skill, with a clear idea and playful intuition.  My studio practice is a constant cycle referring to itself in the way I draw from my own processes and from my approach to problem solving.  I also look farther afield, drinking in the many details of the world around me. I am a sponge for nuances of color placement in birds and how shadows break up forms and cause me to notice them anew. I am always seeking and asking myself, “How does this cup feel when held? Where will this pitcher live?  What am I communicating with this line or volume?”  As I spend hours in my studio working away, my mind blends and refracts the interests I research and the circling, recurring questions.  I love the stillness and intensity of my studio practice in which I am free to listen, to move clay, to invent… My studio practice feeds me.  I am fulfilled building my community through teaching workshops, trading eggs with neighbors, and spending time with friends and family. I am busy like a bee tending to the details of life, keeping up with my many hobbies, keeping my studio practice vibrate, promoting my career, mentoring in the studio, gardening and occasionally tinking away on my banjo. This constant motion feeds my energy and excitement for life, which I strive to capture in the forms and surfaces of my pottery.