Q & A with Kate Symonds

The Upstate New York Ceramics Invitational at Main Street Arts will feature functional and sculptural ceramic work by 13 artists from the region. This invitational represents some of the most exciting contemporary ceramic work being made in upstate New York.

The exhibition will be held July 11–August 29, 2015.
Online purchasing will begin in mid-July.

Kate Symonds

Canandaigua ceramic artist Kate Symonds

Kate Symonds

Q: Where are you from originally and where are you now?
A: I was born and raised in Canandaigua NY. I lived in Rochester, California, Colorado and now live in my hometown as the proprietor and potter at Coach Street Clay.

Q: When did you realize you wanted to be a ceramic artist?
A: I realized that I wanted to be a ceramic artist freshman year of college.  It was the material, the community of the ceramic studio, and the challenge of learning to center and build with clay. One semester of this and I was hooked.  It was in the “Professional Craft Business Practices” class at RIT that I came up with the idea to renovate a barn into a studio, gallery and living space. A few years passed, I did a couple artist residences, waited on tables and started looking for property to buy.  There it was!  I found an old dilapidated barn in downtown Canandaigua in 2007. As a carpenter’s daughter I could see the potential in this property.  After about three years of blood, sweat, and renovation tears I was in business. Coach Street Clay opened in October 2010.

Q: Did you make other types of artwork before finding ceramics? Do you currently make other work?
A: I first went to college for fine arts. I was into drawing and painting and figurative work. When I found clay my focus was sculptural. I became interested in making pots while at my Genesee Pottery residency. At an Anderson Ranch winter residency I jumped in to making pots and never looked back.

Q: Do you have an artistic hero or an artist you look up to?
Just one hero? No. I have immense admiration for all of the mothers and fathers who are makers and entrepreneurs. Raising a child while cultivating a business through art and clay requires more all nighters in the studio than most believe to be humanly possible. Stories of other mothers doing it too is motivating.

Q: What is your largest source of inspiration?
A: Springtime, gardening, nature walks, lake swimming, my daughter Sylah’s perspective.

Q: Do you look forward to opening the kiln? Or do you wince at the thought of something going wrong in there?
A: I love opening the kiln! When things go wrong, therein lies good information. Most of the time things go right at this point. Unless of course I have the time to experiment and push things a bit, but still that is where the good work comes from.

Q: What is it like being a ceramic artist in Upstate NY?
A: I have found my place in the world as the village potter in downtown Canandaigua in the beauty of the Finger Lakes. It is a dream that continues to unfold as my business is welcomed and supported by the local people. Coach Street Clay has become part of the community here. My story is told and re-told as my pots continue find homes in Canandaigua, the Fingers Lakes and beyond.

Q: Where else are you showing your work this summer or fall?
Coach Street Clay’s retail gallery is open to the public 5 days a week. I will also be showing at regional juried craft shows such as Craft Alliance in Chautauqua NY, Clothesline in Rochester, and others.

Q: Is there anything strange or unique that people might not know about you?
A: I’ve always had a thing for climbing trees. Many of my childhood memories involve tree climbing. I still climb trees when the mood strikes. Another thing, my 6 year old daughter Sylah and I are learning to play the violin together.

Teapot by Kate Symonds

Teapot by Kate Symonds

Mug by Kate Symonds

Mug by Kate Symonds

Mug by Kate Symonds

Mug by Kate Symonds

Bowl by Kate Symonds

Bowl by Kate Symonds

Vase by Kate Symonds

Vase by Kate Symonds

Where can people see more of your work/follow you?
Website: www.coachstreetclay.com

Check out the previous Q & A with ceramic artist Kala Stein.

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