Rat City Living - Deb Schwartzkopf

Curator for Rat City Exhibition - Deborah Schwartzkopf


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.  

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.