Form from Nature
Rebecca Hutchinson | Amanda Jaffe | Carla Potter
July 19 – August 17, 2013
Utilizing traditional and nontraditional ceramic materials and processes, these three artists explore the endless influences found in nature.
Artist talk: Friday, July 19 | 5 p.m.
Opening reception: Friday, July 19 | 6-8 p.m.
About the artists:
Carla Potter was raised in Ketchikan in Southeast Alaska. While pursuing an education in dance she discovered the odds of achieving grace were greatly increased if she only had to focus on the coordination of her eyes and hands and cut out the interaction of extraneous body parts. She achieved her BA in Studio Ceramics at Humboldt State University in Northern California as well as embarking on a career in motherhood. After finishing school she moved back to Ketchikan with her young family where she immediately began showing in group and invitational exhibitions as well as creating solo exhibits for statewide venues. A group of persistent teachers there coaxed her into the artist in schools program where she taught extensively for 10 years. Carla has also taught at University of Alaska, Southeast, in the Ketchikan summer ArtsCool program and conducted private classes for students of all ages. She has received Jurors’ awards for her clay sculpture in statewide exhibits. Her work is in many private and public collections including the Tongass Historical Museum and the Anchorage Museum of History and Art.
“Work is a place to be absolutely free and…wonderfully devious.” —Carla Potter
Professor emeritus, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM
I first came to Helena after graduate school in Missoula in 1979 to work at the Archie Bray Foundation. It was and still is the most wonderful place to work. In the early 1980s I bought a house in Helena and have been returning to Montana since.
My work in this show is tied together through images of ocean and beach.
This seriesbegan with the idea of a small boat, tossed in a rough ocean, that contains a peaceful spot. In this show there is a boat with a beach and a boat with colorful flowers. Other boats have contained, among other things, a pile of Fall leaves, a patch of soft grass and a calm body of water. It is an image of a place to escape to when the world around is turbulent.
As often happens as I work the meaning of imagery can evolve or take on multiple meanings. And the content of the boat pieces transformed to represent the way Mexican culture flows north across the US border as it is carried by the people who cross from Juarez to El Paso or who enter the US through the Pacific Ocean in to California. Pangas are boats often used to transport people by sea in to the US illegally.
More specifically it is about bright Mexican color entering a culture where color is generally more muted. The water of the ocean is the flow, the place where the sea reaches the shore is symbolic of the border and the beach with its bleached shells represents an American restrained, subdued and perhaps suppressed approach to intense color. As a child I was guided by my mother to be cautious so that color not be too garish, to use her word. In this sense the bright colors can also represent the illicit.
Las Cruces, where I have lived for the last 28 years is 45 miles north of the border between the US and Mexico. The subject of the US/Mexican border has been used frequently in art made all across the border region. Much of this art is political in nature. But my border pieces are more cultural than political. I am interested in the contrast between color in Mexico and the US and how mexican color along with other aspects of culture south of the border, has flowed north.
Another border or divide is the line between the two people of a couple. In this show, the line between the two halves of the diptychs is between my parents. In the past three years both my parents died. At the time I made memorial tiles for my sister and brother, pieces that are not in this show. But the need to create images about them has continued. My mother was an astronomer and my father abiologist who studied sea creatures. So I made diptychs with sea and sky. Both my parents had the beginnings of dementia at the end of their lives. And in my mother’s forgetful state she called me frequently at night to tell me to look at the moon and venus. “Sky/Ocean” contains Venus and our moon. In other pieces about my parents I represent my dad with sand scattered with sea shells, shells I collected from a beach he enjoyed. My mother in this work is represented by the ocean where she loved to swim.
“…for there is something about being in water that alters my mood, gets my thoughts going as nothing else can…Swimming gave me a sort of joy, a sense of well-being so extreme that it became at times a sort of ecstasy.” —Oliver Sacks
”Ocean” is a model for a larger work that I hope will be part of a group of 3 or 4 sections of ocean. As Oliver Saks has described, being immersed in water can be soothing. For me the calmative nature of water is also achieved through sight, smell and the sound of the ocean.
My objective, with excessive self confidence, for this group of water pieces is to hang them in a meditative room to create a space similar to the Rothko Chapel in Houston that contains a group of paintings by Mark Rothko.
Within all the pieces in this show the water is both soothing as well as threatening, a source of serenity and anxiety.
Associate Professor of Ceramics, UMass Dartmouth, Artisanry Department
In nature there are diverse states of existence that I continue to study; the structure of nature, the result of the state of nature by interaction with other forces of nature, the resilience of nature, and the complexity and awe in the engineering of nature. All these states of nature are rooted and formed in the motivation for the need to survive, and provide endless possibilities of art construction influence and conceptual framework for art making. And, more specifically, endless possibilities for metaphor use; speaking for the depth and complexity of living with the hopes of revealing the human condition in visual, sculptural form, utilizing traditional and nontraditional ceramic materials and processes.
Within the study of ecology and ethology these states of existence are articulated. As a point of reference for sculptural installation building, I have been utilizing specific structural engineering qualities found in functional growth relationships as well as deformities within specific plant formations. Similarly, and as powerful as organic growth, I have also looked at species structures and capitalized on both an understanding of their ecosystem function and engineering. My main interest has been looking at the quality of existence and structural functionality found in nature and the beauty of manipulation, which in nature observes a balance of the fragility of its surroundings while maintaining the essence of need and individuality.
My work focuses on the respect for process and the endless influences found in nature. Formally and structurally my interest is in the details; quality of craft, quality of connections, quality of structure and conceptually an understanding of all physical parts to the whole. I build site-specific clay and fibrous sculptural works. I use porcelain paper clay; dipping, hand modeling, slip trailing, coating handmade paper forms and pouring paper clay slip between papers, cutting and then constructing. The forms are built with both fired and non-fired clay elements.