Of Clay, Color, Gardening and Mr Albers

Karen Christine Hibbard

“How long has it been? 6, 7 years, maybe.”

“How is your bog? We looked for it when we pulled up to your house but it was so dark”

“That’s a sad story. It was great, very exotic. I had collected some beautiful rare plants. I made all those trips to the Okefenokee when I was doing my botanical drawings of carnivorous plants, I made friends with the botanists there and they gave me sun dews and other cultivated exotic bog plants. But then we had a few year of drought it was hard to get out and water my bog enough after midnight. One year I went away for a few weeks on a grant, it might have been when I was looking at Walter Anderson’s work, when I came home it was all but gone. I thought the hardier plants would survive, but they were pretty shriveled up.”

“Cool pots, I like the way they work as a group, black and white.”

“You knew I was doing pottery.”

“I remember something about clay ceremonial oil pots.”

“ I thought I was only going to do that and stop but I continued. It was a way to do something during the winter when work made it impossible to do art. I started doing these small jars, following my black and white format. I used latex masks for the patterns. I got really involved in the process. Making them became an obsession. They’re almost alike but not. I’m taking a break from pottery now.’

“They seem to relate more to the color in your life than to the color in your artworks.”

“That may be because I see them as separate form my body of work. More domestic. Thus the black and white, like my house, rabbits, clothing choices.”

“But Black and White is a color choice so it is in a sense all connected.”

“I do some clay work too, I started making tiles for our kitchen project and then kept going, its addictive. I took a class at the Moravian Pottery and Tileworks and took a class at a local arts league to make more tiles. Once I learned the process I thought I could make them anywhere.

“So you made more and did you actually make the backsplash?”

“I did and we’re still happy with it When you visit again you’ll see it, Hint Hint.”

I kept taking the classes, they were more like indepentent studies. I made molds on my porch and the tiles in the pottery studio. Then I was hooked. Going down into the pottery studio is like entering another world, separate from the rest of my life. I did more tiles then lot and hand building. Last year I did a series of landscape tiles that were inspired by hipstamatic photos I took in New Mexico. They’re like nothing I’ve done before, kind of minimal. In each I used two glazes to make the landscape and left an unglazed border, hard to describe. I plan to do more but I have a new obsession. I learned how to throw this year and I really want to master the process. I feel like such a newbie sometimes. I spend an unusual amount of thinking about the pots, but they too seem apart from any other work I do, but I use the pots for photos so it’s all related. One plate came out of the kiln with a huge S crack and I said cool, they thought I was crazy. I was thinking about how I’d use it in photographs”

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