Our featured artist for today is Joy Tanner, who is currently waiting for the kiln to cool so she can unload the fresh pottery. She wrote in to tell us a bit about herself:
[How long have you lived here? What brought you here? Where did you grow up?]
I have lived in Bakersville for 4 years. I came to the area by way of Asheville, NC where I was a Resident Artist at the Odyssey Center for the Ceramic Arts. Learning about the artist community surrounding Penland as well as the beautiful surroundings mountains were strong factors in pulling me out into the country to create my studio and begin working. I grew up in southeastern Tennessee and went to college for my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga.
[What type of work do you make? Have you always made this type of work? What is your favorite part of the process? Why? What are three words that describe your work?]
I create wood and soda fired functional and decorative pottery. I use stoneware and porcelain clays to create wheel thrown and altered forms. I began working in clay in college and immediately was drawn to the wheel. I was also immediately attracted to atmospheric firing, as the clay studio in the art department had a gas soda kiln. I jumped right into that kind of firing with an intention of incorporating textural elements into my work. Since that time I have continued with this type of work, exploring salt, soda and wood firings more in depth.
I love the making process the most of all. The thinking that goes along with it; especially when I am fully focused in the making and get so full of ideas that I can’t seem to make things fast enough! I love the texturing stage, when the pot is still workable and able to sustain any change I deem necessary. Attaching parts to pots and adding little details; this is what excites me in the process. Then there is the wood and soda firing. I am very intrigued with how the soda reacts with clay, so a lot of thought goes into the loading and firing of the kiln to achieve the best results. I get completely involved with the firing and enjoy that whole process.
Three words that describe my work: texture, variation, contrast
This year has brought about great changes for me. After living and working at my studio in my home for the past 3.5 years, I am now a resident artist at the Energy XChange in Burnsville, NC, where I share a studio space with my partner, Will Baker, who is also a potter in this years’ Potters Market. I’m excited for this change at this point in my life and look forward to seeing what changes it brings to my work. We together are using the new wood kiln that was built there that burns pallet that come in at the landill.
[Do you collect something other than pottery? Is there a particular object or designer that you find intriguing?]
I love to collect seed pods, rocks and other earth materials. When I’m not potting, I love to explore the outdoors with my camera in hand. Photography helps me see details in a way I might not notice them otherwise, and in turn, these observations and subtleties get immersed into my pots as well.
[Have you traveled recently and found inspiration?]
I just took a trip up to Maine for an artist residency at Watershed for the Ceramic Arts. It was a great experience to have the time away from regular studio practice to be in a communal environment sharing ideas and working on new things. I used the time to explore pouring vessels, particularly small ewers and oil pots. It was great to spend concentrated time on these pots, challenging myself to try new things with each one that I made.
After the residency I went camping and hiking in Acadia National Park. It was absolutely breathtaking to see the mountains meet the sea. It was amazing how some of the hikes and deep woods reminded me of western North Carolina mountains, except the only difference is seeing the ocean in the view as well! After this trip I went up to hike the last five miles of the Appalachian Trail to its terminus on Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park. The outside world greatly influences my life, and in turn, my work. I feel so refreshed when I have been able to immerse myself in the outdoors.
[What is the best advice you have received about your own artwork? What advice would you give out to others?]
Keep on keepin’ on.
[Why do you make the work you do? Who do you make it for?]
I create my pots because I feel it is a direct representation of my personality and my observations. The small details in life are what are important. It feels so personal to me to record the inspirations that I gather from nature. I make my pots to help others discover these subtle details, and what better time than during their morning coffee or for eating dinner? It is my hope that by bringing these details into closer view, each pot I have created will possess the energy and insights I gather from my surroundings.
[If you think a pot of you’ve made is awful, and someone whose opinion you respect believes it to be wonderful, how do you resolve the difference?]
I value others opinions greatly and always love to hear the other side. I never know what it is that they are seeing in my work that I can’t see because I made it and I’m attached to it. I think it is good to hear those differences and then let them percolate inside for a while, listening to them and see what those ideas have to offer me.
[Can you think of a particular personality trait you have that helps or helped you in becoming a potter/artist?]
I think my patience helps me as a potter. Through dedicated practice and focus I feel that my work has been able to grow. I recognized early on that this type of work takes an extreme amount of patience and determination to keep going, and I feel fortunate that I have that. I also am an extremely organized person, which can be a very helpful tool, whether it is in organizing a studio, planning a kiln load, preparing for a show, office work, as well as time management.
[Do you play a musical instrument or sport?]
Growing up I took piano lessons for around 10 years and began playing the flute and piccolo, as well. In middle school and high school I was active in the concert band, and, yes , I was in the marching band, too! I loved practicing and playing music and although I do not continue to play today, I am often reminded of how much the discipline of this practice is similar to the practices of a studio potter. Because my time was spent in music, I never had any art classes until college when I stumbled into a photography class and later, a ceramics class. This was when I changed gears and knew I found what I wanted to focus on. I do still, however, long to play the piano and hope that one day I will pick it back up for fun.
You can learn more about my work and even shop online at these links below:
Shop Online: http://www.joytanner.etsy.com