Friday, February 10, 2012

Featured Artist - Andrew Massey


We met Andrew Massey in North Carolina last fall, by almost walking right past his booth...thinking the work was metal and we, of course, care for nothing in the world but clay... Luckily, a double-take, and next thing you know, we're buying stoneware wine cups (ultimately, everything is a wine cup!) that look like copper pipes with nails and rivets and threading.  We're very pleased that Andrew has a solo exhibit, aptly entitled Massey's Machines, coming up shortly at MudFire .  But first... we invite you to meet the maker!





What is your typical day to day like? 
Well I live and work in the River Arts District of Asheville so i typically wake up to the sound of the train coming through.  (I am by no means an early riser but would much rather spend time working late into the night)  I probably get up around 9 or so and have a nice leisurely breakfast while i deal with emails, website, scheduling and business related things, all while listening to some wonderfully classic vinyls.   On nice days I'll walk down to the studio (I've been loving the weather this winter).  When i arrive at the studio I make a list of the things i want to accomplish for the day, though i find that most of the time these lists are a bit over ambitious which leaves me with no shortage of things to do.  I will create most of the components for my work early in the day and try to start assembling late in the day or save them for the next day.  There is always a bit of fun to be had with my fellow resident artists throughout the day as well.  I enjoy working in the community studio environment.  The energy between the 6 resident artists as well as the rest of the studio keeps everything interesting and fresh.  We will often talk about each others work in little mini critiques which helps us to each keep pushing our work forward.  I don't typically get out of the studio before 10 or 11pm with many times being much later.  I find i am at my most productive late into the night.

Apart from making things from clay, what do you enjoy doing?
In the time between creating in the studio I love to just be outside.  I live in one of the most amazing and beautiful places in the US (Asheville, NC) and it is always a struggle to balance all of the many things that i love.  I have been climbing for close to 12 years now and i really try to take advantage of that as much as possible.  I live 30 minutes from several crags and i am really trying to get out once a week or so, even if its just for an afternoon.  I was sidelined by two separate shoulder injuries this past year and now that i am through it i'm trying to not waste any more time.  Besides climbing, I love to get out hiking, backpacking, biking, or even just floating down the river.  I love the culture here in this city where we can just be out on the mountain all day  or in the studio all covered in clay and go right down to the Wedge Brewery afterwards with no one giving the dirtiness a second thought.  One of the things i try to never miss, if i can help it, are the music, art, and beer festivals around here.  These are the times when you see the real asheville come out and play.  It is even better when these festivals line up with the end of a long hard push to get new work out for a show.

Who has been the most influential instructor in your life, and what was the most important thing you learned from him or her?
My most influential instructor has to be my ceramics professor in college, Nathan Cox.  I probably wouldn't be here and playing in clay everyday if it weren't for him.  I had just gotten into art with my hands just dabbling in a bit of clay.  I really loved working in clay but i would never have changed my major and really focus in without his encouragement.  I had many times where i would sit down with him and just try and figure out what i was doing with my college life and where i was going afterwards.  I really just can't say enough about how much he helped me focus in and believe that i could do something with this newly found passion.

What is your favorite food to eat out of your own pots?
Definitely my favorite thing to eat out of my own pots is a red curry dish.  A few years ago i was always frustrated by the store bought bowls i had just not quite being big enough for my curry dish.   I did the logical thing for any potter to do, I  made my own set of bowls at precisely the perfect size.  They have plenty enough room for all of the goodness i wanted to put in them.  Red curry is absolutely one of my favorite things to make.  I add chicken, green peppers, onions, red potatoes and a bit of basil to a big bowl of rice and curry sauce i have made and oooo.... it just hits the spot.

Where does your inspiration come from?
I take my inspiration from my long lasting love of mechanical objects and many of the things i see in and around old industrial buildings.  I have always been mechanically savvy.  From a young age i was taking things apart just to see how they worked and reassembling them.  I always loved doing all of the engine work on several of the old vehicles i have owned as well.  I can see that my process has stemmed from learning how to make a basic teapot and seeing how the different components all assembled together.  Just as every child loved to build with legos, I love to build with clay.  I also take much inspiration from industrial steam-punk objects and how each contraption is seemingly assembled from many random pieces taken and re-purposed from other objects.

Who is your favorite artist not working in ceramics?
I can never keep to just one favorite, but i can say that I have been recently very intrigued with Alexander Calder.  I recently traveled to the High Museum in Atlanta for their "From Picasso to Warhol" exhibit.  It was the first time i had experienced Calder's work in person.  I love his use of physical balance in combination with visual balance and it is something that i try to hold the same characteristics in my own work.  Another aspect of his work that i really love is the subtle kinetic properties.  His pieces are so balanced that they will move and change with the slight air currents from viewers just walking around.  I love kinetic sculpture in general, and it is something i am always looking at, but have yet to explore.

Where would you like to be in ten years?
Haha.... 10 years is a long time, but hopefully I will still be creating.
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Andrew Massey's solo exhibit Massey's Machines, will open on February 24 at MudFire gallery and online.

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