Deb was born and raised in Seattle, Washington and earned a BA at the University of Alaska. She worked for studio potters in the Anchorage area, which gave her a strong foundation to spring from. Deb focused on glazes for a year of independent study at San Diego State University; after which she completed a Masters of Fine Arts at Penn State. She went on to teach at institutions such as: Ohio University, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, University of Washington, and University of Georgia’s study abroad program in Cortona. Deb has worked nationally and internationally at places such as the Archie Bray Foundation(MT), Mudflat Studios(MA), The Clay Studio(PA), Pottery Northwest(WA), Watershed(ME), Sanbao in Jingdezhen, China, and the Residency for Ceramics-Berlin, Germany. Since 2002, Deb has taught over eighty workshops and exhibited work locally and abroad. She moved back to Seattle in 2009 and bought a house/studio in 2013. Since then Deb has created a beautiful, functional, and communal pottery studio - Rat City Studios. Deb, the studio assistants, studio members who rent space, and people participating in classes all work in clay here. Together, they keep the wheels turning!
Who are your role models/mentors?
Oh have so many!
One who I have not written about is my Oma - my mother’s mother, Ella, who emigrated from Romania with two tiny children and her husband. At so many stages in her life she redefined her goals and dreamed big in the face of adversity. Before her journey to the US she worked and lived out of her family home starting at 13 years old. As a refugee she sought asylum throughout Eastern Europe during WWII. She moved with her family to America while not being able to speak English. While working several jobs, she tended my mom and aunties while her husband recovered from a nearly lethal farm. Proudly, she repaid all her debts and became self sufficient. She raised delicious veggies and red roses in the same dark earth. Her kitchen always smelled of coffee and baked goods. She white washed the house and flipped mattresses in her 60’s. She survived breast cancer. She stuck by my grandpa through many ups and downs and created a home we all wanted to be in. She learned how to write by tracing my mother’s letters in her 70’s. While her own second battle with cancer was taking her, she crocheted shawls for cancer patients. She was gruff and relentless, but deep hearted and giving. She loved by doing and making for her family and friends. If I can hold even a small candle to her bright flame, I will consider myself lucky.
Why do you keep making artwork?
It still challenges me. I am still growing and getting better at making what I hope to make.
All my friends do it (kind of kidding here, but the community of clayers is a wonderful thing).
I have most of my eggs in this basket now, especially after working so hard to establish my studio.
This career keeps offering me hurdles I want to learn to jump over.
What are some of the biggest hurdles you have faced with being an artist?
My pottery CRACKING from all the altering and combining of pieces I do with porcelain.
Figuring out where to plant myself and build a studio.
Establishing a studio (buying a house).
Fostering a significant lasting relationship while trying to build a career.
Learning how to listen in a way that create progress.
Trying to change myself and learn from my mistakes.
What do you do to stay motivated in the studio?
There are a lot of big dreams to bring into being. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with goals feeling out of my reach. If I do not know what step to take next, or it is too big of a step, I start feeling bogged down and unmotivated. It helps if I can break down each project into tiny steps I can accomplish in a minute, an hour or a day. I do this by making a lot of lists. If one step in the list is actually two actions, I relist it as two list items. I do this until each step or item listed is truly only one action item that can be done in one step. By the time they get this broken down, they are often simple steps. There is a little handout on my website for helping this process along… https://ratcitystudios.com/handouts