Wood/salt fired high iron clay, 10 x 8 x 4 in
On display at the Downtown Eugene Public Library
I was first introduced to ceramics in 2009 at the Folk Art Guild, a residential artist community in Western New York. Drawn to working with my hands, I decided to leave my work as a media educator and activist in New York City to pursue an apprenticeship at the Folk Art Guide with Annie Schliffer. When I witnessed her firing the kiln for the first time, I knew that my journey in ceramics was just beginning. Continuing a lineage of guild craftspeople, I was trained to throw on the wheel, make clay and glazes, fire kilns and sell our pottery. My education in ceramics was deepened through residencies at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina and the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Maine.
In 2017, I returned to the West Coast to Eugene, Oregon. Working out of a clay coop and my home studio, I create collections of functional ceramics and sculpture. I am a member of the Saturday Market and vend at art shows across Oregon and Washington. My work is available for sale from my website and at galleries across the United States.
Continuing the craft of ceramics is essential in our fast-paced and mass-produced world. I appreciate that my work makes people slow down and enjoy everyday experiences more deeply. I also see myself as part of keeping the tradition of craft alive by teaching in the community. I teach at local public schools through Lane Arts Council and at the University of Oregon Craft Center.
I am a ceramic artist creating vessels and sculptures that invite connection, contemplation and beauty at home. In an exciting new venture for me after 10 years as a production potter, motherhood inspired me to delve into abstract sculpture. Clay has become a tool for healing and expression, and sculpture is my medium to both process challenges and also share some of the beauty of this life moment.
My current work is a series of wall pieces that focus on the experience in my body. A final form takes shape in a spontaneous and fluid way. The final pieces themselves are imbued with movement, sharing stories of growth, rupture and recovery.
With the birth of my son came a desire to connect with clay in a new and restorative way that was purely sensation – different from the production mindset of creating functional pottery. I often begin with smashing fistfuls of clay together, assembling a rough form and then refining surfaces. When I was pregnant with my daughter I began to explore expanding in size, from small handheld pieces into larger wall pieces. The flowing and cavernous forms are reminiscent of the ocean, the divine feminine, with smooth undulating surfaces and wavy edges.
In the same spirit of spontaneity and focus on process, these pieces are fired in a wood-fire kiln, where the flame decorates the clay over multiple days. Much as it takes a village to raise a child, my work emerges from the kiln shaped and impacted by my firing team.
For more information visit nicolehummel.com