Thursday, March 1, 2012

Featured Artist - Dow Redcorn

Looking at Dow's work, you experience nature, up close and far away, at the exact same time, with the visceral feeling of skiing downhill, very fast, with pine branches whipping around you, and foxes and wolves leaving tracks in the snow, and a warm cup of cocoa spiked with a bit of whiskey waiting for you down at the lodge. Yeah, it's like that.

Dow is always making. Always smiling. Always surprising.  We are so incredibly thrilled and honored that his first solo show is at MudFire Gallery.  And we'll always get to say "We knew him when..."
Read on, you'll be very surprised at his world of influences.

Apart from making things from clay, what do you enjoy doing?
I have quite a few oil painters in my family, so I have always been involved in painting. After I began airbrushing my ceramics with under glaze, I was inspired to airbrush oil paints on canvas. The result looks contemporary and I can finish these paintings quite quickly as the paint dries much faster than traditional oil painting. I also enjoy gardening, cooking and eating…. Is that a hobby? As far as sports, I really enjoy downhill skiing. Riding up the ski lift, surrounded by tall, thin white and red fir pine, is probably  one of the reasons why my current ceramic images are what they are.

Describe the moment you fell in love with clay. Have you ever cheated on it?
It was at MudFire. I had not been a member for long when I had an idea to make a cabin out of slabs of clay. It was probably too ambitious for a beginner, but it actually turned out quite nice. At that moment I felt like this was my medium and one I could succeed at and enjoy. I do cheat on it occasionally, but I always return to it.

Who has been the most influential instructor in your life?
Hands down, my father has been the most influential instructor/person in my life. From my earliest memories, he has always excelled in just about everything…art, sports, business, hunting, fishing, relationships, etc.  I was exposed to so many things by the time I was 21, it really shaped me at an early age. He also loves to travel. It seems like my sisters and I were constantly in the back seat of the family car (having “piggy fights”) and going somewhere.  Being originally from Denver, we were in the Rocky Mountains quite frequently, hiking, camping or fishing. The most important lesson he taught me? To enjoy life today.

How much of your own ceramic pieces do you use in your own home?
Actually I use very few of my own pieces. I use my coffee mugs occasionally but I use my salt pig almost daily. “Oink, oink”! My favorite pieces by others are mugs by Shadow May and Kyle Carpenter. Both are large and substantial vessels for coffee.

Is there a ceramic artist whose work you most admire?
 Alice Ballard. She makes nonfunctional forms and sculpture. Her work has probably had the most effect on my ceramic forms and designs. I think her artist statement perfectly describes her work… “The metamorphosis of Nature's forms, as they change from season to season, that attracts me to that universal world in which differing life forms share similar qualities.”

I also admire Beth Cavener Stichter. Her large sculptures of animals are incredible. I would love to sculpt figures this large one day.

Another ceramic artist that I admire is my Aunt, Jeri Redcorn. She makes traditional Caddo Indian Pottery. One of her pots actually resides in the Oval office.
Who would write your biography?
I’m not sure what the title of my Bio would be, but if David Sedaris wrote it, I’m sure it would be something funny or weird or perverted. It would get great reviews but only because David took my average stories and made them funny.

How important is the human or organic touch in your work?
I was once in Crate & Barrel and saw a slip cast, mass produced vase that was sprayed with brown tea dust glaze and it looked like a tree stump. It was $50 or $60 dollars and I thought to myself “I can do that...but make it more interesting”. So tree inspired ceramic forms and designs are what I have been doing over the past several years. I don’t necessary like close replication of natural forms. I like the artist making their interpretation of it. For me, inspiration can come from anywhere. I’m a person who notices everything, the small unnoticed details in things.

Who is your favorite artist not working in ceramics?
I love the artwork of British painter Francis Bacon. 

If you could visit the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Francis Bacon’s studio and home at 7 Reece Mews in London’s South Kensington neighborhood.  For the last 30 years of his life, the studio was never cleaned, so years of canvasses, brushes, photographs, sketches, notes, etc. piled up until his death in 1992. In 1998 the entire studio contents were removed and reassembled in the Gallery of Modern Art in Dublin. So, next time I’m in Dublin I could actually see it.

Do you ever get potters’ block?
I have not really experienced any potters block. I like to sketch ideas in notebooks so I always have somewhere to look for past ideas that were never pursued or to reinvent previous ideas. Sketching has also helped me be more focused in executing my forms as originally planned.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
I’m going to quote another MudFire potter’s answer on this question… “Alive and making ceramics”.

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