• carole epp

feeling the heat down at the Florida Heat Surface Workshop

I’m in that no sleep buzzed mode of post-workshop headed home travel. I swear I’ve been at this exact gate in this exact airport in Minneapolis before, but it’s more likely just the happy blur of travel memories that flood me at times like this. You see I just left the Florida Heat Surface workshop at the Morean Center for Clay and I’m caught between the need to sleep and the need to put some thoughts down on digital “paper” about this last week. Thanks to amazing friends like Ben Carter and Adam Field I added another page to my “ceramic passport” – a term I first heard from Carter (who tells me it’s origin is from Merran Esson) to describe the lucky life of an artist that gets to see the world through work opportunities abroad. When I was first invited to be a presenter at FLH Surface I thought it was a joke, then I was convinced it was a mistake, but alas it was instead the support of such great friends and colleagues that got me here.

Florida Heat Surface Workshop (FLH) is the brain child of both Carter and Field working in partnership with Matt Schiemann at the Morean Center for Clay in St.Petersburg, Florida. In it’s forth year, the invited artists represented both functional and figurative work with a focus on a variety of techniques and surface treatments. I can’t even begin to describe the talent in the room at this workshop. The diversity of conceptual and technical approaches to material alone was overwhelming. I highly urge everyone look into future FLH Workshops and to take some time to look into the work of all of the participating artists from 2017.

adam field

Co-founder Adam Field is known for his intricately carved pots which bring beauty and symmetry to simple daily acts of eating; creating space for ritual and reflection. Adam is a pro workshop presenter. Well worth going out of your way to catch a chance to see him in action. He’ll even be in Italy later in the year if you want some really amazing travel to go with your workshop experience.

Meredith Host’s layering of dots and dashes alludes to more industrially produced work, but is in fact a highly skilled multiple layer technique of bringing imagery onto the clay surface. Her color sensibilities and subversive humor are on point in her work. I won’t divulge her pattern influence, but it’s worth really having a look at her work and seeing if you don’t find all those dots and dashes far more familiar then you’d think….

Thaddeaus Erdahl’s work blew me away on a number of levels. From the mastery of skill apparent in the surfaces he creates to the emotional engagement of his figures through their subtle gestures and their soul searching eyes. Narrative, politics, iconography and pop culture mash up in these exquisite pieces.

Now Matt Metz is an artist whose work I’ve long followed and admired for the richness of his surfaces to the boldness of his personal style and iconography that has defined his aesthetic. Having the chance to see the stages of his process really broke down visually the strength of his forms and how they are truly unified and working collaboratively with his surfaces. Simple techniques focusing on carving, layer slips, and allowing the materials their visual voice makes his work rich and timeless.

(above image by Linda Christianson)

So many of these artists I was meeting for the first time and I am always so moved by how much we as artists are reflected in our works. Our sensibilities, our personalities, our approach to life as a whole. Hearing Linda Christianson speak about her work and influences was by far one of the best artist talks I’ve been to in years. Such honesty, love of life, searching for beauty in everything around her, truly aligns with how she approaches her pots. These pots that are both humble and evocative, functional and contemplative.