Meet Jen Allen!

Jen's Background

Jen received a BFA from the University of Alaska, Anchorage in 2002 and an MFA from Indiana University in 2006.  She has participated in residencies at the School for American Crafts, RIT (2002-2003), the Archie Bray Foundation (Summer 2003, 2015, 2017 and full term 2006-2008), the McNamara Foundation (Summer 2008), Red Lodge Clay Center (Summer 2012),  and Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts (July 2016).

Jen and her husband Shoji just purchased a new home in Morgantown, WV. It has two outbuildings, one of which will be her new studio.

You can also see more of her work at

Who are your role models/mentors?

Work of some of Jen's mentors during her time at UAA (1995-2002). Pictured clockwise from top left: Martim Tagseth, Steve Godfrey, Pamela Pemberton Price, Brad Schweiger, Peter Brondz, Tom Rohr, Kris Bliss.

Work of some of Jen's mentors during her time at UAA (1995-2002). Pictured clockwise from top left: Martim Tagseth, Steve Godfrey, Pamela Pemberton Price, Brad Schweiger, Peter Brondz, Tom Rohr, Kris Bliss.

I have so many role models/mentors... many of which are from my days as an undergraduate student in Anchorage, AK. My first ceramic teacher, Martin Tagseth, was the reason I changed my major. Lisa Conway, Pamela Pemberton, Steve Godfrey and Robert Banker were all faculty during my time at UAA. The majority of my classes were with Steve Godfrey. He has always been someone I've looked up to and is one of my most favorite potters. Kris Bliss, a production potter in Anchorage, had a huge impact on my career trajectory. I worked as her studio assistant for four years. She taught me about all things clay.

Peter Brondz, another well- known studio potter in Bird Creek, AK, also made a major impression. His studio/home set-up was something I always admired. He was so generous with the UAA students and would let us fire his bourry-box wood kiln and his salt kiln. Tom Rohr and Brad Schweiger each taught summer classes at UAA while I was there. Both had a lasting impact on my work and career. Between undergraduate school in AK and grad school in Indiana, I worked with many talented artists... each of which helped shape the potter I am today. Julia Galloway, Rick Hirsh and Sinisa Kukec were all pivital to my growth as a young artist who had just left home for the first time. My grad faculty, Tim Mather, Christyl Boger, Malcolm Mobutu Smith and John Goodheart gave me the kick in the ass I needed in grad school. I also need to acknowledge Josh DeWeese and Steve Lee to help me transition back into real life following academia. Currently, I am thankful for my colleagues, peers and students for challenging me and for helping me to stay creative in my constant search to find the better pot.

Jen's early work, 2000- 2001.

Jen's early work, 2000- 2001.

When did you have your first experience with clay?

My first experience with clay came my sophomore year in undergraduate school. I was an elementray ed major but was taking a painting class in the art building. After snooping on the hand-building class down the hall, I decided that I needed to sign up for it the following semester. It just took that one hand-building class to hook me. I earned my BFA in ceramics 5.5 years later.  

Why do you keep making artwork?

I NEED to be creative. I NEED to make. It helps ease my mind and focus my energy. It is rewarding and challenging and frustrating at times. It is the only time I am completely comfortable in my own skin. There is a great video that KQED released about Viola Frey and her dedication to clay. Even following a series of life-altering strokes, she never gave up on her passion. Instead, she found ways to keep stay creative and engaged with her craft. Retirement was never an option for Viola. She is such an inspiration. I too can’t imagine a life without making...

Meet Emily Schroeder Willis!

Emily's Background

Emily received her MFA from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2006 and her BFA in ceramics from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 2000. She was awarded the Jerome Fellowship from the Northern Clay Center and the Sage Scholarship from the Archie Bray Foundation. She was an artist-in-residence at the Archie Bray Foundation in Montana, the Zentrum für Keramik in Berlin, Germany, the Alberta College of Art and Design in Canada and Watershed Center for the Ceramics Arts in Maine.  In 2012, she was a presenter at Arrowmont’s Utilitarian Clay Conference where Objective Clay was formed.  Currently, she lives in Chicago and is a Lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Her studio is located in the Ravenswood neighborhood in Chicago. 

You can also see more of her work at

Are there any books you are looking at lately you want to share?

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Oh YES!  I have come across some real gems lately!  The book A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor is simply fascinating.  It really turns you on your head for what we (the west) have deemed worthy of value.  And looking at all these objects from around the world but with a different lens has been very eye opening.
Also the book Vitamin C: Clay+Ceramic in Contemporary Art by Phaidon is a great book to learn about a TON of ceramic artists I have not heard about who are making really interesting work.  It is a little western influence heavy, but I am still excited to dig into those artists and learn more about them.

And lastly two books I picked up recently from the Chicago Art Institute Book Store that are incredible are For Hearth and Altar: African Ceramics from the Keith Achepohl Collection by Kathleen Bickford Berzock and For Kith and Kin by Judith A. Barter and Monica Obniski.  The Hearth and Altar book is of interest to me because I feel like in all my studies of ceramics, I have not learned or read much about African Ceramics and this book has a lot of great history and information on historical African ceramics.  The Kith and Kin book also looks at some great American Folk Art which is often left out of Art History books as well.

What are you listening to in your studio these days? 


Well, I guess I must confess that I am a Friend of the Pod and that Pundit is an angel.  And if you know what those things mean....well, then you listen too. Truly, I listen to Pod Save America & Lovett or Leave it more often than I should (only because I get really feisty after listening to them).  But I try and temper that by listening to a lot more classical/mellow music these days. Nico Muhly, Sufjan Stevens, Sylvan Esso, Phox, Bon Iver, Julianna Barwick, Ólafur Arnalds are on a constant rotation in my studio.  But if I had to pick only one, Sufjan would be on non-stop.  He's just amazing and his latest collaboration with Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner and James McAllister, Planetarium is absolutely MAGICAL!  I think I have listened to that full album at least 100 times this summer.

What do you do to stay motivated in the studio?

Honestly, getting to be in the studio these days is such a treat!  It's still is hard to get in there in the capacity I want because of being a mom of a three year old.  Recently I started a practice of making 5 drawings in my studio each time I am there.  It helps me think differently about my work.  Sometimes I keep the drawings, sometimes I throw all of them away.  It just helps me to let things go and not be so entrenched in one way of working/thinking. 

Who are your role models/mentors?

William J. O'Brien, Cecily

William J. O'Brien, Cecily

At the moment, I feel really, really lucky.  I teach at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with some really incredible artists and several have become huge role models to me.  Bill O'Brien who teaches there is just absolutely the most hilarious, kind and incredible artist.  I love the way he works so fluidly between so many different mediums (printmaking, ceramics, metals, drawing, textiles....) and he has a really unique way of dealing with each material. He is so earnest and raw in his work it is really inspiring for approaching my own work in a more honest manner.  His Instagram feed is a total riot.  If you don't follow him, you should.  It will brighten your day!

Marie Hermann is another professor at the Art Institute.  I love her innovation with looking at objects: how we collect them, how we integrate them, how we move them and how we move around them.  As a potter, I can sometimes get bored with looking at "pots", so I love finding people who use them in a more nuanced way.  And like Bill, Marie is an absolute gem of a human being.  Like I said earlier, I feel really lucky to be teaching at a school with amazing artists who are also such brilliant people.

Rat City Living - Jon Johnson

John Johnson



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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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



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



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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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:  and

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



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”

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



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.