Born and raised in Pratt, Kansas, I knew from early on I would likely pursue a career centered on the studio arts. I first encountered working with clay while at PCC, learning wheel throwing with Tanya Ferguson. I then went on to Wichita State where I majored in Ceramics, focusing primarily on wheel thrown pottery. After graduating in ’88 with a BFA, I went on to LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for graduate school, obtaining my MFA in 1992. I then went on to pursue two long ceramics residencies, at The Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana, and The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where I have remained since. I met my wife, Kukuli Velarde, also a ceramic sculptor and painter, here and we have a daughter Vida.
My current work has echoes of my training as a potter by invoking vessel references in large-scale forms reminiscent of abandoned industrial tools, gaudily-colored. My primary working medium is ceramics, combined with wood-working, in the fashioning of stands and tables. I aspire to attain in my work the wedding of the prosaic yet intimate qualities of functional pottery to the more assertive power of industrial tools, both relegated to an age more closely attuned to human labor and striving. It is less a matter of describing a sense of loss than to invoke wonder and curiosity in the work I now produce.
For the last decade I have been exploring and developing my current work of large-scale vessels, departing from attempts to employ traditional glazing surface treatments in favor of enamel and Casein paints. I made this break for better uniformity and control over the colors and textures needed for the results I seek. Instead of producing pottery, the wheel is now more of a tool for generating some of the parts I use combined with hand-built forms for assembling large vessels. I still rely on vessel references, but only tangentially and as a point of departure for sculptural exploration and invention. In parallel with this work is my fabrication of stands and tables for display. This work also follows the same industrial aesthetic used in my vessel forms, wedding the two lines of sculpture together.
Working in clay in the scale I’ve chosen is physically challenging, yet I hope the exuberance embedded in the process of fabrication is imparted in the final forms. The vessels and stands at first have a sober character until they are painted, then the quality of playfulness comes to the fore. While I hope the scale and brute physicality of the work stand out, it is the vivid color palette I look for to impart playful associations.