About

 

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Steven Colby

artist statement

2012

I make pots as a method of communication with and contribution to the evolution of human civilization. As my investment in the pottery process began to take hold I dug into history, embracing the relationship between man and clay and fire. A connection was struck the day I happened upon a grainy black and white photograph of a medieval Syrian pot that bore a striking resemblance to something my fresh and sophomoric hands had made earlier that day. Just a sloppy little form with ambiguous anatomy, a wobbly foot, a lumpy belly, a twisted neck, finishing with a pouring edge raised by the happenstance of an imperfectly pulled wall. In that moment I reached across an ocean and thru time to make a connection with this Syrian potter and his lumpy little pot made a millennium ago. Imagining the longevity of the lumpy little pot in my own studio and its potential to communicate with others I felt that I had become part of something large and important. My investigation as a maker of pottery continues to be informed by this experience.

The pots I make today wink and nod at pots from history. As I chase after a personal expression of beauty I find myself vindicated by the pots throughout history that seem to have followed similar impulses. The sancai wares of Tang Dynasty China explore a breakdown of spotted pattern in yellow and green glaze sliding as they melt over a swollen belly. Frozen moments of tension and release, chaos and control, play in harmony. A 13th Century English jug carries the casual confidence of its maker. Momentum recorded in the transition from volume to cylinder to spout seems to occur in a single breath. A handle added in just a few gestures, springing from and sinking back into the body proudly flaunts a secure attachment. The ragged foot informs the body that its symmetry arrived from an unwieldy lump. In my own work I celebrate these uniquely ceramic moments where material meets process.

Add to this the acquired experience of these old pots and my working process begins to come into focus. Pots in use enter into an immediate state of devolving. Stains will form, lips will chip and glazes will dull as a functional pot serves its purpose. A good pot that cries out for use is a profound thing. Sipping from a well-loved mug feels like slipping into an ageing pair of shoes. The comfort and familiarity are earned. I try to give my work a head start on this path. A fresh pot covered in wet slip stretched out from within, disturbing its symmetry, and recording fingerprints, humanizes a form. A surface that carries the history of layers, added and removed, alludes to the rituals of filling, emptying and rinsing clean. My pots are meant to look used, carrying the evidence of my experience with them as an invitation to commit them to service.

I’ve filled my cupboards with pots that emanate qualities of comfort, utility, familiarity, equanimity and wonder. I recognize that as the objects I make leave my studio, and enter the world, they are very much works in progress. A pot that calls out to a shopper at a farmers market, intrigues a gallery patron or is given in generosity is loaded with promise and coiled with potential energy. This moment of recognition marks the beginning of a relationship that unfolds over years, perhaps millennia, of intimate exchange.

state college, PA

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Steven Colby

potter

Living and working in beautiful Carbondale, Colorado.

Much of the work represented on this website is available for purchace.

Many pieces have already found their homes.

Whether you be interested in purchasing some pottery, proposing a custom set of dishes or you would just like to say hello,

I would really like to hear from you. Please e-mail me:

stevendcolby@gmail.com

or

find me at:

525 Buggy Circle

Carbondale, CO

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