Q&A with Susan Roston 1. The exhibition, ACTINIARIA, developed after a trip to Florida. The creaturely shapes in this show...
Q&A with Susan Roston
1. The exhibition, ACTINIARIA, developed after a trip to Florida. The creaturely shapes in this show are a great contrast to the more traditional ceramic pots you were working with throughout 2014. How did your trip to the ocean inspire the experimental shapes you’re working with now, and your new processes?
It was a period of over 35 years ago visiting my Grandparents in Florida, and going shelling on the beach with my Grandmother, that gave me the foundation for my love of the Ocean. Visiting my Uncle’s camp on the lake also drew me to water at a young age, so loving water is not new to me, and I always waned to create something around that theme as my time working with clay advanced. My work in 2014 was, I suppose, a lead up to this, and if I think about it now, all the work I have done up to this point has led up to this body of work. I hope to expand on it but keep it calm and exciting at the same time.
2. When we initially spoke about the concept for your exhibition, you mentioned finding something spiritual in water. Obviously, this is a cathartic experience for you, but can you talk about how you relate to water as an element?
Water to me is more than just water, it encompasses everything I love, the softness, texture, the sounds, what it can sustain, and its way of just being – I know it sounds pithy, but if you really pay attention to water in all its forms, you’ll understand. It’s life and I see shape, light and so much movement, so how could I not work with the concept of water in my art.
3. There are two framed pieces in your exhibition that hint at an experiment with flattened forms, sedimentary layers – in the same way that you’ve included various ceramic fragments, like broken shells or crustacean carapaces, for the installation. Tell us about your process and ideas around creating these pieces, and if they relate to any other ideas you may have around ‘non-sculptural’ work.
I wanted to bring in an element to the show that reflected what could be found under the water, or above, as rocky flat outcroppings that I have seen in various places. It’s almost as if I can feel my feet walking on them and feeling the prickles and the roughness, seeing the colors, and really inspecting them. Texture has always been important to me as it’s not always about “vision”; it’s about bringing out a spirit in my work. These shapes make you look inward, as this show has made me do, and they have instinctual layers to them – no matter what we think about art and life.
4. You also talked about integrating printmaking into your future ceramic work, and have given us a glimpse of some handmade glass shapes. How do you intend to work with these mediums further? What are other unconventional materials or techniques are you working with?
The printing on ceramics has been done for many, many years; my goal is to find a way to integrate it into a story without it being or looking overly commercial. I find that commercial work can lead you into a trap to a point where it just becomes repetitive and “NORMAL”. This is a big reason I don’t do commercial works such as Mugs, bowls… Many people are doing just that, so I found early on that I needed to separate myself from that so called “INSTITUTIONAL” WAY OF THINKING and just do what I need to do.
I love the concept of taking materials that are moveable for a short amount of time and working to make it into a solid form, but a form that still has movement and grace. Glass blowing and flame-work do just that, and it’s the same concepts in completely different mediums. I believe (this is just my thought) that you need to work with other mediums in order to remain fluid and not stagnate.
My next venture is to work with wire and clay slip to create another environment that is not completely different, but in a larger format that will push me to do larger scale works and advance to where I need to be… even if it takes me the next 10 years.
Catch Susan’s exhibition ACTINIARIA before it closes this weekend, December 21st!