By Karen Rodis, Arts in Education Coordinator
How fortunate I am that my job brings me into contact with talented, creative people on a daily basis. Here at ArtisTree we are able to collaborate with incredible singers, instrumentalists, painters, fiber artists, photographers, dancers, actors, and more. Over the years our blog has featured many of these area artists, such as gifted photographer Emmy Walden Fox (click here for her website), innovative sculptural artist Lynn Graznak (click here for her website), and the jazz-inspired band Small Change, to name a few.
One of the many gifted artists I have come to know is ceramicist Amanda Ann Palmer. Perhaps you have seen her work in one of our gallery exhibits. Maybe you have had the good luck to take a ceramics class with her. Talented in so many ways, Amanda Ann is an artist to know.
Working from her home studio, Amanda Ann creates gorgeous and functional pottery in her own distinct style. From servingware and bakeware to drinking vessels and planters, Amanda Ann’s forms feel soothing and natural in the hands. The horizontal ridges and bulges that characterize her pots are reminiscent of the rural farm structures she grew up with in Northeast Alabama. These shapes, and her hand-mixed soft palette of glazes, evoke grain silos and corrugated metal that are a part of Amanda Ann’s family’s multi-generational connection to rural life and nature.
I had the opportunity to ask Amanda Ann about her work. Not only an extremely talented ceramicist, Amanda Ann is a gracious, lovely person who speaks about her art with the utmost humility.
Karen: What is your most recent work about? What are you currently exploring?
Amanda Ann: In my functional work I strive to enrich tradition within the home, making pots that suit their job well enough to become synonymous with their ritual.
I am currently exploring active and passive areas on my work. Leaving them smooth or texturing them, glazing or allowing the clay to remain exposed changes how accessible they are to your hands. Tactility plays an important role in creating an intimate connection with a pot and I delight in navigating those spaces.
K: What inspires you?
AA: Being in the forest. There is a hike near my house where I found an old stump that is covered in moss, lichen and fungi. It houses such variety; I can find my entire glaze palette there! Whenever I feel stuck, I find myself in the woods. I also find old rusty junk to be incredibly motivating. Rusty, corrugated steel is my favorite thing.
K: I love your glazes, especially the greens that remind me of a patina on metal. Can you tell me about your use of glazes?
AA: I love that my green glaze reminds you of aged metal! I am most drawn to objects that have had a past life, as they tell a more interesting story. The history of an object is most often revealed on its surface, so I enjoy using glazes that make my pots look like they know something I don't.
I mix all my glazes by hand. They are recipes that other potters have been generous enough to share. I am not a technical person, so this is the absolute most challenging part of the process for me. Most of my pieces are dipped in their glazes. Sometimes I pour it on though, if the piece is too big to fit in the bucket. The copper one, the favorite, is the least predictable. I've been working on it for three years now and it works about 75% of the time. *knock on wood*
K: Are there particular ideas, materials, or projects you hope to explore in the future?
AA: I am a little terrified to say that I have a figural idea brewing in my heart of hearts. I've never really worked with the figure, so hope to take Peg Brightman's class at ArtisTree this spring and bring my idea to fruition.
In the near future, I will begin to stack some of my wheel thrown forms into very textural, junkyard-inspired totems. My background is in sculpture and while I throw highly functional pots on the wheel every day, I am stacking them into garden sculptures in my head.
I have no doubt that wherever Amanda Ann decides to take her work, she will continue to impress us with her ability to create ceramics that speak to us from a place of memory and beauty and that we can easily connect with at a personal level. I hope that soon I will have space in my busy life for a clay class with her. *knock on wood*