Robert Smith

The experience of working with clay for a living, as with most mixed blessings, is a confounding one. Unlike most jobs, it can give the good feeling of self-employment, maybe a certain amount of recognition, the heady feeling of going against machined mass-production, and the satisfaction of beginning, carrying through, and completing a project. And it also offers deadlines, periodically inferior supplies, over-fired kilns, poor photo processing, work destroyed in shipping, galleries that suddenly fold, dried-up creative juices, the prospect of relative poverty.
But it also offers the intangible. The intangible: of creating "something” out of “nothing”; of working at a chosen pace for interested people; of a connection (conscious or otherwise) with a past, a history so rich and varied -- and so essential and human; of bringing into the world an object that intentionally exists to affect other people, maybe calmly, maybe outrageously; and perhaps most significantly, of that rare but occasional moment when the pot (or sculpture or object or idea) works, when the total is greater than the sum of the parts, and something wonderful has happened.
Silhouette and form, with a quiet contained presence, have always been my major concerns. My most current work reflects this ongoing fascination with form, plus an increased exploration of greater depth, subtlety and drama in the surface, with new directions in color, scale and texture. Terra sigillata, and saggar firing, entering my ceramics life recently, have made a large impact in both scale, gesture, and impact, both from “sig” to raku, and from raku to terra sigillata. While I continue to use the vessel as my point of departure, enjoying that historical connection, architectural and wall work invade my thinking more and more.
I have been changed significantly and irrevocably by making clay art. My head, hands and heart have come together during this active, longterm pursuit of my dreams. I am beginning to understand the complexities of my medium, and because I work hard and with care and sincerity to train my hands to do what they must, in this self-actualization I have become passionate. Through some stroke of good fortune, I have found work which is satisfying, engaging, challenging, and comprehensive, and through which my heart can sing.
I often think I work with clay to slow down the world; and maybe to experience the sensual/tactile quality of the wet medium on my fingers; and maybe to better understand life’s dichotomies and paradoxes by studying clay’s dichotomies and paradoxes -- the microcosm of the studio and macrocosm of the world --; and maybe just because I have to..