Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Featured Artist: Shawn O'Connor

Shawn's unique wood fired work has everyone at the studio talking.  We decided to circle back around to find out more about our favorite Downeaster.
What is your typical day to day like?
I try to treat my studio as a normal job. I typically work Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm with and hour break for lunch. Many nights during the week I put a few hours in doing paper work or photographing work. I try to take weekends off from the studio, but frequently find myself working if I haven’t left town. I typically throw in the morning and trim and assemble in the afternoon.       

Apart from making things from clay, what do you enjoy doing?
I’m an outdoor person at heart. I love to hike and camp, but pretty much enjoy any outdoor activity. I’m also enjoy music, of all types. I frequently go to shows and concerts.       

How much of your own ceramic pieces do you use in your own home?  
I try and use my own work often. I feel it is important to understand fully how my work will live out its life in other people’s homes. I will often make changes to future work I make, from the experience I have using it. I have a good collection of other people’s work that I typically use every day.     

Is there a ceramic artist whose work you most admire?
One of my favorite potters, and friend of mine, is Jennifer Allen. Our work is visually and physically very different, but we share some of the same artistic values that go into our work. 
Why is handmade better than mass produced?
The hand made offers the aspect of the human connection. Often the value of the maker is entwined in the object that they make. The user, or owner, of the object will often have a personal connection to the maker, adding significant emotional value to the object.  Mass produced objects are often sterile and cold void of human emotion and connection. The tactile qualities of my work are very important to me, as this is part of the experience I am creating for the user. My work is meet to be used in the service of food and drink, so it is important to consider all the senses when making these objects.      

Who is your favorite artist not working in ceramics?
Probably Richard Serra. I love his use of form and surface to create work that gives an experience to the viewer on a monumental scale. 

Do you ever get potter's block? 
I sometimes do have potters block, but find if I start working through a series of forms that I have already made, I usually end up creating some new one at the end.  

Where would you like to be in ten years?
I would like to have some roots somewhere in ten years. Hopefully before then but, you never know how things are going to play out. I’ve been moving around a lot the past five years, grad school, residencies, jobs. I’m starting to feel a lack of “home” or stability in this transient lifestyle. It’s not really an ideal situation for a studio potter.       

Visit Shawn O'Connor's solo exhibit at MudFire Gallery in Atlanta or online

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