“A pot without a soul
is just clay around a hole.”
The image lives in my memory, from a poster on an art room wall or in a studio at my community college in Bellevue, Washington. There I studied with my early mentor, Ray Jensen, Pacific Northwest steel and bronze sculptor. The image on the poster was of a white stoneware bottle, simple, minimal—deeply carved by the potter into upright ridges and furrows circling the body. I must have gazed on that image repeatedly, for it has bubbled up now from my subconscious as being an influence for both my pottery and sculpture.
When I moved to Boston to study at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, I left behind a love for clay vessels and 7 years practice on the potters wheel. I took classes in life drawing and sculpting, welding, photography and art history, only once visiting the ceramics studio.
For 20 years I pursued nature-under-the-microscope and figure inspired forms in my Rugg Road studio in Allston MA. A main thread in my studies developed into using thin, square rods of mild steel, welded to build forms the way one builds marks on paper; to define volume, to draw linear forms in space, to create an image.
My art-making was interrupted in 2006. On Dec. 29th, at three in the morning I woke to shouts, feet pounding in the halls and flashing lights. A fire had broken out on an upper floor. With a cat under each arm I exited the building. In one night we all lost our homes and studios and gained a more personal sense of the individual losses and disruption brought in disasters like Hurricane Katrina, the year before.
The following were years of disruption. In an effort to get back on track, all the while moving around for work, I lay the ground for a new venture. I resettled in Boston in 2010. “Grad School” was a start up vegan-with-organic cookie business. Perhaps doomed to failure, as my main interest was educating about the positive environmental impact of organic agriculture and vegan/vegetarian diets, I closed the business as 2014 opened.
I took a pottery course as an antidote. It was something I knew how to do.
As soon as I got my hands in the clay, I felt I had come home. As my first mugs came out of the kiln, I realized I was a potter. There is something so gratifying about making vessels for eating and drinking, for showing off some garden flowers or for any other reason. Soon after, Fire Garden Pottery was born.
Andrea Brown, potter