Art, Art History and Design, School of


Date of this Version



Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska

In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Fine Arts

Major: Art

Under the Supervision of Professor Gail Kendall


The functional pottery I make is work which is profoundly influenced by the groupings of objects that I have both consciously and unconsciously looked at in my eleven years of retail experience at Menards. Most of these objects are unaesthetic individually, but when stacked and grouped together, become unusually compelling when seen from a distance, or in the field of peripheral vision. When I understood that this aspect of my life was informing my work, I became more attentive to the details like the negative spaces created around and between objects, and the intervals and spacings in and around objects. I became further aware of the dissonance and consonance of color relationships which happen in these compositions, and in their proximity to the colors offorms around and near them, as well as, issues of texture, and whether the objects are glossy, matte, or somewhere in between. Through this awareness of my environment, a large portion of my own work has come to be about how objects interrelate when combined in various ways, and how these combinations create meaning and context over and above their formal and functional properties. Being a skilled craftsman allows me to direct the viewers attention away from questioning whether or not the objects are well made. This is where I stand my ground most firmly. I will not tolerate shoddy workmanship. This causes me to work within a range of control, in small series' which deviate from each other only slightly. This also means my work evolves less dramatically. Although my objects appear similar one to another within a group, by highlighting crevices, edges and protrusions with glaze and the effects of atmospheric firing, I accentuate the sense of what clay does. Even when I choose not to fire in an atmospheric kiln, I use glazes I have developed or altered to show the subtleties in the form, and react to nuances in a similar manner. Clay responds to the way one touches it, and records information about what has been done to it in the process, much like human skin. I direct process, controlling how the clay frays at the edges, curls around itself and tears under movement, making each object unique and lively. I retain just enough control in the process of making and working to allow the objects some small semblance of freedom to retain their essence of the handmade. In many cases this necessitates the making of specialized tools, equipment, glazes, and the use of other materials like wood and steel to accomplish the goals I set out for my work.