Bowie Croisant Ceramic Artist Weblog

Writings – Artwork/Career Related Essays and KCAI Thesis Proposals

2009 Artist, Inc Application Essays
PROVIDE A STATEMENT DESCRIBING YOUR WORK, YOUR PRIMARY MOTIVATION FOR
CREATING WORK, AND YOUR PASSION FOR YOUR CHOSEN ARTISTIC DISCIPLINE.
(MAXIMUM OF 450 WORDS)

My cast and assembled geometric teapot sculptures reference my initial
attraction to the medium of clay, function.  Teapots are representative of
the pinnacle of functional ceramic design.  My teapots are fully capable
of dispensing tea; however my focus is a sculptural exploration of varied
configurations of the components of the pot that are necessary for the
delivery of tea.

Inspirations for my designs come from a love of geometry, modern
architecture and farm machinery commonly seen while growing up in rural
southeast Kansas.  I employ 3D-CAD software to accurately visualize
objects prior to their construction.  I devote a significant amount of
time to this design phase in order to insure versatility before the
creation of a prototype.  Repeated production and reconfiguration of
modular elements allows me to create and continually refine similar yet
unique objects.  I construct my sculptures intuitively while adopting a
meditative problem solving approach to the contemporary reinvention a
historical form.

My vessels are soda fired, emphasizing their edges, planes and corners.
The variability of this firing process enables me to maintain an element
of risk and excitement in my practice.  This is due to my use of highly
variable slips that depend on their placement, kiln atmosphere, and the
application of soda during the firing to develop their surface finish.  My
ability to manipulate these variables adds to the uniqueness of each
individual work.

The challenges of becoming a successful artist, continual reinvention and
betterment of my work, artistic expression and exploration of new ideas
motivate me to be in the studio day after day.  I possess a strong work
ethic and enjoy the challenges that face emerging artists.  I feel
fortunate to have this opportunity to develop a career doing something
that I love.  Through a personal blend of technology and art I feel I am
making a significant contribution to contemporary society.

Since my first experience with clay four years ago I have been captivated
by its physical directness and potential to change.  Opening a kiln is
always exciting, as chances of unexpected and pleasing results can be
farmed through taking calculated risks.  Clay must be handled carefully
and intimately to avoid deformation and unwanted marks, yet it can also
take on characteristics of metal as it can be constructed, welded and
finally end up surprisingly strong and durable.

WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR ARTS CAREER TO LOOK LIKE FIVE YEARS FROM NOW?
(MAXIMUM OF 375 WORDS)

Five years from now I want to have established an extensive support
network for all aspects of my career.  I plan to accomplish this through
building on several specific areas such as financial stability, critical
networking and access to technology and resources.

I envision having a steady income through solid relationships with several
galleries and museums.  I see these relationships enabling me to
effectively manage production in my studio so that I am creating work for
specific shows rather than spending additional time finding homes for work
as it accumulates in the studio.  This kind of efficiency in the studio
will allow me to budget effectively.  To compensate for production costs I
foresee successful grant-writing as a regular activity, additionally
allowing me access to technology and resources that may otherwise be
unaffordable.  Rapid Prototyping is one such resource which I will access
via outside assistance.  Incorporating this cutting edge technology into
my process will allow me to bring forms into reality precisely as they
have been designed and in the most effective way possible.

Maintaining and strengthening relationships with colleagues and collectors
will ensure that I have continued access to honest and respected
criticism.  I will also maintain close relationships with the institutions
where I have studied and worked in the past.  This will allow me to stay
in the loop, constantly able to view new ideas and approaches.
Relationships with these institutions will provide me with valuable
opportunities to give presentations on my work, as well as supplying
access to interns to aid in my studio work.

These goals will be achieved through my conviction in a consistent vision
and the continued development of a convincing body of work.  This and a
honed ability to articulate meaning and significance in my work will
enable me to expand my audience though nationally viewed publications and
personal promotion.  Establishing these support networks over the next
five years will undoubtedly provide stability for the rest of my career.

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS KEY OPPORTUNITIES OR CHALLENGES RELATIVE TO YOUR
ARTISTIC CAREER, AND HOW DO YOU THINK PARTICIPATION IN THE ARTIST, INC
SEMINAR WILL HELP YOU TO ADVANCE AS A PROFESSIONAL ARTIST? (MAXIMUM OF 375
WORDS)

I believe at this time in my career the most important challenge I am
facing is establishing lasting financial stability from my art making
practice.  This is a multi-faceted puzzle which I feel my undergraduate
education failed to address.  I have found this to be a common theme for
many other young artists.

The most obvious side of this puzzle is sales.  How and where to sell your
work is not something often discussed with BFA candidates.  This is most
likely due to the propensity for young artists work to change and the
necessity of an appropriate match between an individual’s artwork and
sales venue.  I am fortunate to have found one such match and the
opportunity to maintain the relationship while I build new ones.

Learning to manage and balance my studio practice with writing, promotion
and business practices is an area I know I need help with.  Participation
in the Artist, Inc. seminar will unquestionably encourage me to think in
depth about these problems.  Establishing a supportive local network of
cross-disciplinary colleagues would be an enormous resource.  Developing
strategies to manage and balance my artistic   career and life is
essential.  I feel that the entire program would be invaluable, but I may
gain the most from learning effective goal setting, budgeting and
grant/fellowship hunting strategies.  Without learning many of the skills
presented in this course, successful careers in art may happen only
through luck or tremendous artistic ability.

Active participation in the growing Kansas City art scene is a huge
opportunity.  I believe this is a wonderful place to develop as an artist.
I plan refine my work and relationships here and to expand my audience to
a national level, assisting in the rise of Kansas City as a nationally
renowned art hub.

Spring 2008 – KCAI Thesis Proposal

At this time my focus in creating ceramic art is refinement. I am pushing my work to become more functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. Creating objects that are comfortable to use and that function well gives me great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment as a craftsman. I am not only concerned with the functional attributes of the work, but also I am becoming increasingly interested in the posture or gesture of the forms. It is this characteristic that provides a majority of the viewer’s initial response to the work. The general shape of the object, its stance, etc. My work is forcing me to ask myself questions such as does this pitcher look like it wants to pour? Is this cup inviting and comfortable to drink from? How does it feel when you hold it? These questions also point in the direction of tactile sensation.

The way a vessel feels in the users hand has a lot to do with the glaze that covers the pot. Glazes that look smooth and soft often are. In my past work I had put much effort into creating complex surfaces, using multiple glazes. At this point in my work I am attempting to step back from this approach to allow myself a simpler and more effective glazing process. By using fewer glazes and creating a more uniform surface the gesture, posture and forms of the vessels will be more read more clearly.

My exploration of gesture, posture and form will be addressed through alteration of the wheel thrown forms. These manipulations will be carried out in a variety of ways, creating soft, round, flowing shapes as well as angular and hard edged forms. Mold making techniques will be incorporated to expand my skill base and used to replicate certain elements such as elaborate handles or forms that would normally take much longer to create.

I am interested in the work of contemporary artists such as Jeff Oestreich and Josh Deweese. These artists inspire me through their use of form, as well as decoration. I identify with many traditional Japanese and Chinese forms and surfaces. I also enjoy the elegance and ornate nature of English silver.

To clarify and summarize, my work will address these issues beginning with the making of pitchers and cups, advancing to other forms later in the semester.

Fall 2007 – KCAI Thesis Proposal

At this time the main focus of my work lies in expanding my competency in addressing the formal relationships between parts. Teapots are an easy target in approaching concept and enable me to learn a great deal. I have expanded this idea to include multiple objects, exploring the relationships and formal concerns necessary to make several objects work together. These relationships will be addressed through the construction of sets of objects, tied together through the use of similar surface and form. I intend my work to inspire reflection, bringing the viewer’s attention to the present moment and creating a dialogue between the viewer and object. The idea of focus on the current moment comes from my study of Zen and other Eastern philosophies. My approach is based neither in function nor sculpture; my concern is a cohesive, complete feeling of parts to the whole and an inherent rightness that pervades the work. I find the Internet and current ceramics publications to be invaluable tools in the search for new artists and information. I am currently researching the work of Tom Coleman, Chris Gustin, Steven Hill and Josh DeWeese. All of these artists’ use of glaze is inspirational to me, as well as their formal aesthetics.

To accomplish my goals I plan to sketch and make a variety of forms, while employing different approaches to making. This is challenging new territory and I expect my technical ability to improve vastly from this focus. I will create visually interesting surfaces that ask for investigation. This will be accomplished through the creation of complex surfaces through the use of multiple glazes. I will expand my palette through continued experimentation in glaze, surface treatments and firing atmospheres.

Conceptual development is relatively new territory for me, so creating work within these confines will teach me a great deal. I have not spent much time writing about my work and I expect a focus in this area to lead to much development. I enjoy the idea of a lump of clay as a seed that can grow into something new and different. This transformative quality is highly appealing to me and goes hand in hand with my affinity for Eastern thought. My aesthetic choices tend toward smooth shapes and deep surfaces that invite closer inspection. I enjoy regular visits to museums, galleries, and libraries. These all enhance my perspective of past and contemporary ceramics. I also greatly enjoy being outside and would like to draw from nature as a source of inspiration for form.

Overall my focus will be on relationships. This will be addressed through the construction of sets of pieces that themselves work as single objects but are able to play off one another, and also work as groupings. These relationships will be reinforced through similarities in form and surface, creating a harmonious whole.

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