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Jean-Pierre Larocque – Quotable Quotes from a Master

I attended the one day workshop at Sheridan College with ceramic sculptor, Jean-Pierre Larocque – who is currently based in Montreal and on faculty with Concordia University. Rather than write up my personal reflections, I thought I would post some of the truisms, advice and wisdom that I captured during the day:

“I cannot abide a blueprint – too much happens in the process.”

“I work a lot from chaos…I need the chaos in there because it speaks of something.”

“Material is an embodiment of an idea.”

“When I pushed away limited to reference to recognizable images, then the images just came.”

“I work from behind the curtain, under the surface, so that the surface looks like it’s made itself.”

“I am outraged by the idea of the nobility of the mind.”

“Sculpture is an experiment in the round.”

“I’m in the business of making ghosts appear.”

“Making art is about love – you work on this thing until you love every part of it.”

“I like to arrive there, but I don’t like to prescribe how to get there.”

“Play is the thing that keeps me coming back.”

–photos posted by permission of the artist.

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Figuring a Way..

I attended day one of Crafting Sustainability yesterday at OCADU facilitated and produced by Craft Ontario. The opening keynote speaker, Judith Leemann challenged us in thoughtful ways to consider how we understand and approach our world as craftspeople and makers, citing historical  anthropologists and contemporary thinkers Gregory Bateson, Margaret Meade, and Naomi Klein . Highlighting the fact that most see objects, as makers we might consider the materials in which the object is made, shifting the lens, and considering source materials as a state of constant unfinishedness, seeing the re-purposing of material as life itself, rather than ‘recycled’.  Key thought: material is always on the way to becoming something else.

Another key idea – is that makers create stories and that stories are the indirect media through which our creations are carried forward and communicated to a larger community. That we might try and see the inherent value in “the thing” rather than make it dependent on the outcomes associated with its environment. In the spirit of this insight, two stories I care to share that Leemann shared. The first – two wood firing potters set up a pottery and realize that they need a lot of wood – so in order to fuel their craft, they retrained as arborists, and began a business “Treecycle” where they cut down unwanted/old trees and take the wood away for free for use in their kilns.  Nice.

Second story is about Theaster Gates – one of my favourite artists since I saw him sing and dance with brave irreverence at the AGO last year, and keynote at Milwaukee’s NCECA. Leemann was involved in a progressive performative exhibition installation in Seattle, where each invited artist had a space to transform based on the instructions of lack thereof of the previous artist – Gates was last, and he chose to coat the entire exhibition space with white porcelain slip, all the while singing his hymns of praise to Dave the unknown potter.

Stories whether true or fabricated, are imbued with a certain degree of fiction, and as Leemann reminds us “fiction opens up a spec in us to feel how much we want some thing. Parting words of wisdom: Craft has never been learned by waiting to know enough.

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reaching – colour and the absence thereof

Well – I’ve been busy throwing Sheba’s raku clay and slicing it up for “stretching” – some of the results that are readying themselves for the show at David Kaye Gallery next monthIMG_0288IMG_0240

transference isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be

So I’ve been mucking about with trying to reproduce similar type “mimesis” work to what I did in Denmark – and decided I’d like to go with colour transfers. Friends have tried and true results, but I’m having a difficult time getting a printer to be happy with my very expensive waterslide decal paper.  On the flip side, I’ve improved my Photoshop skills tremendously with a little help from my friends.  The concept is still the same – to ask us to consider the different facets of our lives, and how we live our lives – crazy, high tech, fast faced, or rooted in nature and in touch with our environment….

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Re-inventing the mould

And so the process begins, as I sort through the next installation positives for my mimesis series where I’m interested in pointing the finger to various facets of our lives and of society. I hope to make three different moulds to work with this winter/spring.  Just pressed sculpture clay around to find what I wanted in terms of form, built a cube of plaster and literally sawed off the edges. Starting to make a mould – its’ an uphill learning curve, as this is NOT my forte, and I’m missing my mentors from Project Network in Denmark.

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