Tag Archives: Ceramic Artist

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Maria T. Bentley

MTB studio

Tethered to our innermost beings and the marrow that comprises us, our bodies are rooted in the earth. The loss or decay of any one of these can cause an imbalance. I aim to provoke that delicate steadiness while inducing a sense of nostalgia, and odd familiarity.


“Bottom of the Barrel” 2015 – mixed media sculpture

I was born and raised in Seneca Falls, NY. Growing up surrounded by the Finger Lakes, rural farm land, and state parks, I am continually drawn outdoors. Religious influences and family experiences are other factors that play a role in my work. I see the use of clay as a representation of the physical body, drawn from the Genesis creation story; recycling of material and life. To me ceramic vessels and sculptures take on a figuratively charged quality representing people from my life.


“C.A. O.” 2015 – ceramic/ mixed media sculpture

Alzheimer’s and the aging process are explored in my color palate and surfacing quality. Alzheimer’s is a terrible thing to watch a loved one experience, for me it was my grandfather. I recall his vibrant personality and coloring became muted, rather quickly. I recall bruises and the cloudy confusion in his eyes as he became a shell of the man I once knew. Using ceramic burnout methods I expose natural fibers to the firing process, leaving an  exoskeleton of what was, similar to those that experience Alzheimer’s.  What was once there remains in essence but is never the same.


“How are the numbers?” 2019 – ceramic

Using muted earthy colors and textures associated to decay, decomposition, aging, and the natural earth, I mimic the passing of time. The combining of materials and insertion of light charges the work with multiple layers. In each piece I combine three or more materials experimenting with ceramic, wood, glass, neon/ light, metal, and fibers.


“Dust to Dust” 2019 – mix media sculpture


etail shot of the ceramic garbage pail in “Dust to Dust”

I enjoy incorporating apples into my work as it add an ephemeral element to the piece that grows/decays with the passing of time. Apples hint towards my childhood as well as referencing religious creation stories. The piece above invited viewers to eat an apple and dispose of the core in the ceramic garbage pail. Over time there was an accumulation of cores, the collection of compost created by humans, and the decay of these cores provided a wonderful smell and color to the inside of this white void.

My studio practice is sporadic. I am constantly traveling to portfolio days and art classrooms across the country for my position in admissions at Alfred University.

In our "Sugar Shack" making maple syrup this past winter.

In our “Sugar Shack” making maple syrup this past winter.

Image may contain: one or more people, plant, tree, outdoor and nature

Working in the garden on our land

I reside in Hornell, NY with my partner. We have land that we garden on and we have a maple farm, Maple Marrow at B&T Farms. We spend a great deal of our time outside playing in the earth or creating with it. I am continually researching and exploring new ways to enhance my practice, manipulate material, and expand my network.

View more of my work on my website at www.mariatbentley.com.

Maria T. Bentley is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Maliya Travers-Crumb

Maliya Travers-Crumb, artist in residence at Main Street Arts, during the month of August 2018, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Maliya some questions about her work and studio practice:


Q: Tell us about your background. I grew up in Avon, NY outside of Rochester. My mother is a quilter so our house was full of fabric and craft supplies for me to experiment with.  I was always making something or other, attempting to make my own clothes or scribbling in my sketch book. I currently work as an administrator for the University of Rochester Urgent Care system. I spend most of my free time making pottery.

 Q: What was your experience like at art school? I’ve always been a big reader and literature is an integral aspect of my practice. I studied English and studio art at Oberlin College as an undergrad and did a lot of conceptual work. I went back to school and got a second bachelor’s degree in illustration from RIT where I specialized in digital techniques. It was at RIT that I rediscovered ceramics and it was sort of the missing piece in rounding out the way that I think about and approach my art.


Q: How would you describe your work?
I mostly make pottery, but my work is very informed by my background in illustration. I like to think of clay as a different kind of canvas, and I really enjoy pairing flat  drawings with more dimensional forms. I work primarily with graphic black and white painting which helps to create a sense of continuity between my work. My illustrative style gives me the freedom to go in a lot of different directions with the pottery I create. I gravitate toward simpler forms which I paint in a whimsical style with a lot of cats and other creatures.


Q: What is your process for creating art? I had hand surgery about 6 months ago, which has significantly impacted my process and how I make art. I had a repetitive strain injury to the sagittal band on my dominant hand, which was very painful and made it almost impossible to hold a pen. I couldn’t make art for a year and a half and I refer to it as my personal dark ages. Making art is very tied into my sense of self.  When I wasn’t able to throw or draw, I thought about art constantly. What I would make, what I would change when I was able to get back into the studio. I thought more intellectually about form, about making intentional art rather than just working intuitively. Although the process was inarguably terrible, the shift in my art since being able to make again has definitely been a positive one. In a time where throwing on the wheel is something that has come more into vogue, it’s interesting for me to focus on something different and how I can approach a fresh type of making. How does creating multiples affect the preciousness of an object? How does this change if you add in more of the decorative arts? What does a piece from a mold need in order to be its own unique work of art? 


Q: Do you collect anything?
 I’m really into strange natural bits of detritus and decay. I have a collection of pinned beetles, shells, little animal bones, pressed flowers, and rocks. There is something very satisfying about tiny things.
Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
I have always loved fairy tales, and am particularly drawn to the work of Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac. I also love the graphic style of Aubrey Beardsley, his drawings for Le Morte d’Arthur are strongly influential to my own work.

Q: Who inspires you and why?
Reading has always been something that I go to when I need inspiration or comfort. Audiobooks have been the perfect tie in to how I create art. I love fantasy and storytelling, and something about listening to stories when I work helps me to create narratives within my own pieces. Anything by Neil Gaiman is on the list, but particularly Neverwhere which he narrates himself. I also love the Series of Unfortunate Events, which I didn’t originally like as much until I started listening to them narrated by Tim Curry who is over the top hilarious and amazing. My all time favorite will always be the Harry Potter audiobooks, which were an enormous part of my childhood and my development as a person.
Q: What are your goals for this residency? My goal for this residency is to create a new practice of mold making with a focus on form and function. I’m looking forward to having the chance to spread out a little in this space and maybe create some larger pieces. I didn’t study ceramics in school, so I’m excited to learn more of the technical aspects of the process. I will be firing a kiln for the first time during my residency!  (With a little help from previous artist in  residence  Zoey Murphy Houser so I don’t melt anything J).

Q: Where else can we find you?
Instragram: @mtcpottery

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jody Selin

Until about the age of 6, I grew up in fairly rural area of Greensboro, North Carolina. My parents were avid gardeners and some of my fondest memories where of snapping green beans, skinned knees and following my parents around the yard, as they pruned and planted throughout the growing season.

Jody Selin working in her studio

Jody Selin working in her studio

There was plenty of land to roam as unsupervised kids and we took full advantage of it. If asked, we could recite the trees in our yard; cherry, pear, oak, dogwood and magnolias. It was here that I naturally developed a love of being outdoors, gardening and a fascination with plant and earth sciences. These earliest childhood impressions, along with a mother who encouraged creativity, are what I carry into my work today. 

Various pieces in progress

Various pieces in progress

So, for the better part of 20 plus years, I’ve been making art and choosing to live creatively. Originally, I came to Western New York to pursue my MFA in Ceramics at RIT’s School for American Craft, eventually settling in Buffalo, NY. Before this, I had traveled around the US and Caribbean for several years, where my natural inclination for plant biology overlapped with a love for the enormous plant growth and lush, saturation of the sub-tropics. The ecology of western NY has been just as inspiring, with the diverse hiking trails, rivers and Great Lakes. 


Detail of “Entangled Growth” from CULTIVATE exhibition

"Medium Pollinator Cluster" from the CULTIVATE exhibition

“Medium Pollinator Cluster” from the CULTIVATE exhibition

Working with my hands, traveling, hiking and experiencing people and places outside of my direct understanding have always been an interest for me. At my best, I am curious. 

These recent works, featured in the CULTIVATE exhibition, are a reflection of this continued curiosity. Threads of previous works in content and style are always present although, I intentionally choose to pursue work that is continually explorative and in response to my direct natural environment. 

Jody Selin is one of eight gallery artists represented by Main Street Arts. She is featured in the exhibition CULTIVATE which runs April 7 through May 18, 2018. More information about Jody and her work can be found on our website. View more pieces byJody Selin on the gallery’s Artsy page.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Zoey Murphy Houser

Zoey Murphy Houser, artist in residence at Main Street Arts, during the months of March and April 2018, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Zoey some questions about her work and studio practice:

Zoey with her Patchwork Animals

Zoey with her Patchwork Animals

Q: Tell us about your background:

I was raised (and still live) in a village called Newark in the Finger Lakes, about 12 minutes from Main Street Arts. My mom gave me an art easel and Legos as my first toys as a kid — she has a picture of me painting when I was two, and she says she knew I was an artist by then. Throughout my high school years my main mediums were drawing, painting, and photography, however my preferred medium became clay while attending Alfred University, where I obtained my BFA with a minor in art history.

Zoey painting at age 2

Zoey painting at age two

I’m currently teaching art part-time and volunteering at Bridges for Brain Injury where I’m the art project head. I’m also volunteering alongside Wildlife Defenders where I help handle and take care of various animals including a wallaby, a dingo, ring-tailed lemurs, a lynx, a red fox, and a coyote.

Zoey with Cash the Lynx

Zoey with Cash the lynx

Q: How would you describe your work? 
My preferred medium is clay. I love the tactility of creating with a medium that I can handle with my hands without always having a tool as a mediator. Currently I am working on what I call “Patchwork Animals,” inspired by my childhood collection of well-loved stuffed animals which instilled in me a love for the real-life creatures they represented. I am equally inspired by images of animals I encounter — a dog wearing a lion’s mane, a seal snuggling a small stuffed animal seal, a hedgehog with a strawberry on its head, baby bats wrapped in blankets, my own dog carrying a mini tire around her nose… peculiar creatures doing absurdly-adorable things make me surge with creative energy (and cute aggression).

Zoey with her Patchwork Elephant

Zoey with her Patchwork Elephant

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I have a stash of animal images and videos I reference to sketch and get inspired by. When I begin my sculptures I’ll occasionally have a quick sketch or detailed drawing of what I want to create but this isn’t always the case. Usually I focus first on the clay body in front of me, trusting my hands to build what I am consciously and unconsciously creating. Molding, pressing and “stitching” each clay animal together results in the form taking on a life of its own.

Lemur Patchwork Animal Drawing

Lemur patchwork animal drawing

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
My goal is to create multiple patchwork animal sculptures that tap into playful oddity. I intend to expand upon various aspects of my animals: their size, texture, color, how they interact with one another, and how those interactions impact the viewer. I want to experiment with their postures and expressions to accentuate their life-like existence while also provoking the viewer to reminisce on the innocence of childhood.

Q: Do you collect anything?
Whenever I go on an adventure (whether that be out of the country, out of state, out of town, or simply out of my house), I tend to find and press flowers to later stick into handmade books. I also collect stones, seashells, sea and lake glass, sand and dirt, and little bones when I can find them. The idea of “collections” is one of the four roots that feed my art forms.

Pressed Flower from Brasil

Pressed flower from Brazil

Pressed flower from Brazil

Pressed flower from Brazil

Pressed flower from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Pressed flower from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Q: Who is your favorite artist?
Vincent Van Gogh has always been my favorite artist; I resonate with his paintings – his urgency to lay down paint, his shameless textures and colors used to express his inner soul, and the whimsical, dream-like state he was able to communicate through his work instilled in me an indescribable connection.

My other favorite artist is Keith Schneider, whose assemblage-characters have given me ideas on how to patch my own sculptures together.

Q: Who inspires you?
LAIKA Productions has fascinated me for years. Their movie Coraline has had a huge impact on my work – the dolls, the parallel “other” world and its peculiar essence, the color scheme throughout the movie, the music… everything about it inspires me. I keep a copy of it in my studio – I’ll often have it playing while I’m working.

A Woven Paradox, BFA Thesis Exhibition

A Woven Paradox, BFA Thesis Exhibition

Q: What advice would you give to other artists?
Van Gogh has a quote that I live, breathe, and create by: “It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much, performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”

This ties into the modern Greek word “meraki,” which is the soul, creativity, or love put into something; the essence of yourself that is put into your work.

Essentially: your best work is done in love.

Q: What was your experience like at art school?
I was perpetually inspired by classmates and grad students at Alfred University. Much of my BFA thesis exhibition, A Woven Paradox, was based off of my friends – their mannerisms and outfits were so wonderfully strange, I just had to make sculptures to honor them.

Val and Steph, Ceramic Sculptures

Val and Steph, Ceramic Sculptures

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
Art school taught me that my most useful tool is myself. Other necessities include (and not limited to): friends that make you laugh (and stay sane), a sign that reads: “remember to eat!” and coffee. Lots of coffee.

Zoey in Freshman Year Foundations

Zoey in freshman year foundations

Q: What’s next for you?
I have fluttering ideas, but no solid plans. My usual approach of winging it always brings me to a neat place! Something tells me I’ll end up outside of the country eventually, but who knows. If you want to follow my journey, you can follow me on social medias (below).

Zoey in Brasília, Brasil

Zoey in Brasília, Brazil

Q: Where else can we find you?
website: http://www.zoeymurphyhouser.com/
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zoeymurphyhouserstudio/
instagram: @zozo_studio and @zozomurph



Inside the Artist’s Studio with Hedy Yang

I am a 21 year old artist at Michigan State University, majoring in ceramics and minoring in entrepreneurship. I started a small business in college, and plan on growing it after I graduate in May of 2018.


Photo credit: Mackenzie Bogema

Believe it or not, my career as an artist started pretty unintentionally. My high school required that we take a certain number of art classes in order to graduate, so I decided that ceramics seemed like the most interesting of the available options. Little did I know, I would fall in love and it would become my passion.



It was the summer before my junior year that I really found my niche. I had always been interested in elements of nature; marble, crystals, rocks and the endless interesting textures you can find. It seemed like in the last year or two, marble has become a very glamorous material. It’s often associated with class and luxury, due to it’s high price.

Every girl at school had a marble laptop case, phone case, or something to that effect. I was definitely one of those people as well, and I wanted to figure out how to make classy, chic looking pottery that imitated marble. I discovered the bubble glazing technique through a fellow artist, Robert Crisp, at the studio I attended. After a few rounds of testing, I started posting pictures and videos of my process and results online that became somewhat viral. My work has been shared by major Facebook accounts such as InsiderArt, Buzzfeed, Elle Décor, and many more.

IMG_4893  IMG_4904

Here is a photo of my process; I use a small container filled with glaze, drizzle a few drops of dish soap in it, and blow with a straw. When that mixture bubbles up over the edge of the container and pops against the piece, you are left with a crisp outline of those glaze bubbles, which mimic the veining in marble.


All my pieces are thrown and textured with precision, while the glazing part of my process brings a lot of uncertainty in the color and shapes. It took me over a year to finally feel like I was close to getting the hang of “bubbleglazing”, where I could feel consistently pleased with the results I was getting. With a lot of trial and error I was able to introduce other colors to create an entirely different style, and I plan to continue innovating and growing my style.

You can find more information about me and my work on Instagram , Facebook , or at my website

Two of Hedy’s cups are included in our national juried exhibition of drinking vessels, “The Cup, The Mug” (juried by Peter Pincus, educator and ceramic artist from Rochester, N.Y. Preview and purchase work from the exhibition through January 4, 2018: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Paul Frazer

Paul Frazer making mugs

Paul Frazer making mugs

“Forever a journey”
I have been creating and teaching art for the majority of my life. I learned to work on the potter’s wheel at a very early age. I was amazed at the process of taking soft clay, throwing it on this contraption, spinning it, and creating a pot. When I learned about the ceramic process, and that you use fire to finish the work, I was hooked.

Working on sculpture

Working on sculpture

My interests in ceramics and the studio arts consumed my high school and college life. I earned my Art Education degree from Buffalo State College and went on to earn my MFA in Ceramics from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Since that time I have taught in a variety of situations, but quickly realized my love of working with children. I am a high school art teacher in the beautiful town of Naples, in the Finger Lakes region of New York. I enjoy playing a role in the lives of the children and young adults of my community and I am inspired everyday by seeing the world through their eyes.

MFA exhibition candid

MFA exhibition

My interests in the visual arts are diverse. My undergraduate portfolio focused upon the sculptural vessel and the firing process of raku. I also intensely studied figure drawing and sculpture while obtaining by education degree. My graduate work consisted of large scale, classically inspired figurative sculpture. I enjoyed the challenge of creating really big sculpture out of clay and gained a tremendous amount of experience regarding ceramic techniques, processes and materials.

Monster Mugs

Monster Mugs

I have always made pots and the past several years have concentrated on sculptural mugs. These mugs have become studies in form and function and have also allowed me to explore imagery related to character and creature design as seen in my monster mug series. Imagination is the world I am often lost in, storytelling, escapism and popular fantasy have driven my creative choices. I love bringing form to life with gesture, texture and color.

Frazer porcelain mugs and goblets

Frazer porcelain mugs and goblets

I love working with clay as it is able to exist in so many different forms. From liquid to stone like solid, clay provides the most interesting and engaging processes of any art materials I have explored. Being a high school art teacher allows me to journey through art processes and materials , visiting with freedom, ideas fleeting or complex. The mug allows for a quick dip into process and idea formation, like a maquette, it represents something more, something larger and more complex but just for a moment I can hesitate and enjoy that tactile communication frozen in form as I enjoy my morning coffee.

Thank you to Main Street Arts for putting together this exhibition, it’s an honor to share my work. Find me on Facebook.

Stop by Main Street Arts to see Paul’s “Scurrying Mug” in our national juried exhibition of drinking vessels, “The Cup, The Mug” (juried by Peter Pincus, educator and ceramic artist from Rochester, N.Y.) The exhibition can also be previewed and purchased in our online shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com The exhibition runs through January 4, 2018.


Inside the Artist Studio with Michael Ashley



Glazing at Ashley Studio Pottery in Tupelo Mississippi

Originally from Springfield  MO, I graduated from College of the Ozarks with a BA in Painting and Ceramics then moved to Tachi, Taiwan where I spent a year at Tainan National University for the Arts.  In 2010 I graduated from the University of Mississippi with an MFA in Ceramics. I have taught at Missouri State University, the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University and Tyler School of Art and am currently making Pots in Tupelo MS at Ashley Studio Pottery and teaching at Northeast Mississippi Community College.


My desk with Max Beckmann, coffee, homework for students, and sketches for cups.

My current work comprises utilitarian forms with motifs and patterns influenced by Kenzan Style Edo Period Japan with color and painterly application of  expressionist paintings from early to mid century.


wine cups earthenware 2017

I am particularly interested in the way Beckmann uses bold colors surround by black lines to create shapes and planes.


vase with tulips

My process begins with red clay dipped or brushed in white slip. After bisque, I start first layer of brush work using iron wash made of iron oxide and OM4 ball clay or glaze pencil.


bisqued bowls with brushwork

Next, I apply liner glaze depending on the form.


I then begin to layer glazes using bulb syringe and brushes. My glazes are a combination of glazes I mix, made mostly of frits and Mason Stains as well as some commercial Amaco and Duncan glazes.


Glazed work ready for the next layer

Lastly, the pot is dipped in a thin clear glaze and fired.


Footed red box 2017

Artist Statement
My work invites touch, like a stone plucked from a riverbed. I love pots that are smooth in the hand but have a rugged, natural beauty. I observe a constant erosion and evaporation that takes place in my daily environment. I strive for layers of visual depth combining slip, glaze and texture to recall this geological wearing. Traditional utilitarian forms are the vocabulary for my investigation, surfaces are a combination of historic patterns and motifs mixed with the vibrancy and life of mid century abstract expressionist paintings.


cups earthenware 2017

Ritual and habit inform my studio practice. Art, work and play exist in all aspects of life. I begin my day with tea; boil the water, strain, pour and savor. That rhythm carries throughout my day whether chopping onions or wedging clay. Make something, use it, let it inform your life, make more.


Mississippi oribe 2017

You can follow me on Instagram and Michael D. Ashley or Ashley Studio Pottery on Facebook.


Ashley Studio Pottery
398 East Main Street, Suite 106, Tupelo MS, 38804


Ashley Studio Pottery www.ashleystudiopottery.com

Michael Ashley has two cups included in our second annual “The Cup, The Mug” exhibition, and received an honorable mention award for one of his wine cupsStop by Main Street Arts to see Michaels’s work through January 4, 2018 or purchase his cups onlinestore.mainstreetartsgallery.com


Inside the Artist’s Studio with Sam Lopez

Demo days are the best days

Demo days are the best days

I was born and raised in a small dairy town in Riverside County called Mira Loma just one hundred miles north of my current home in San Diego. As a kid, I spent most of my spare time  in my dad’s leather shop either helping sew up saddles or struggling along with my own projects. Working alongside my dad over the years has allowed me to grow up with an appreciation for well-crafted objects that help serve a community.

I got my start in ceramics in high school and was instantly hooked and spent all four years completely seduced by the potters wheel. Nearly fifteen years later, in May of 2017, I still retain my infatuation with the material and recently  received my MFA in ceramics from San Diego State University and now teach ceramics at Riverside City College. I am currently learning and enjoying the process of becoming an effective educator; and as with most teachers, I get most of my own studio work done anytime class isn’t in session.

One and three fingered handled mugs

One and three fingered handled mugs

I primarily make utilitarian pottery but try to remain open to other processes and ideas. I make the majority of my work on the potters’ wheel but also use slip casting and hand building techniques for some of my larger scale works. My surface choices are made based on the color of my clay. Aside from its’ smoothness, I work primarily in porcelain because it provides an opportunity for a pristine white background to the painted surfaces I apply to each piece. It also takes color fairly well so I will often pigment my clay to explore different foreground/background color relationships.

Porcelain Polychrome cups

Porcelain Polychrome cups

Polychrome cups on Black Porcelain

Polychrome cups on Black Porcelain

slip case colored clays with black underglaze

slip case colored clays with black underglaze

When making pots, I work fluidly through small batches and continually test myself with new forms. My sketchbook will sometimes guide a making session if I am actively trying to approach new ideas of form, especially with more complex forms like teapots and other pouring pots. However, I will almost always use sketches through a batch of cups with the hopes of exploring larger forms similarly. Generally, I am attracted to creating some kind of tension in each form as well as a tension with the glaze surface of each pot.

I continually try to ask questions of each piece. The question, “How can this form demonstrate qualities of both hard and soft sensibilities?” has been lingering in my head for nearly six months and still keeps me excitedly making new work in the studio.

Varying Mug Shapes

Varying Mug Shapes

Cup variations from my sketch book

Cup variations from my sketch book

Two prominent influences are my dad and Josef Albers. My dad taught me the importance of making with quality, which means to make something that can potentially last someone a lifetime of hard use with appropriate care. The beauty of the object was secondary to its functional success. As a result, some may find my pots to be a bit heavy according to most standards. I like for the user to be confident that each pot can withstand some banging around without fear of it easily breaking so I make sure to leave them just a little on the hefty side.

Josef Albers is largely responsible for my decisions when using color. His book, The Interaction of Color is never more than an arm’s reach away when I am painting with my underglazes. This book is full of great information and I would recommend it to anyone interested in color theory. This book helps me continually ask questions about color relationships and is the influence behind all the clay and glaze choices I make.

Mixing Color Washes

Mixing Color Washes

Tech talk:
I use cone 10 Miller Porcelain (WC631) from Laguna Clay. It is sold at other supplies under the name #550 as well. My liner glaze starts out as Tom Coleman’s TC-103 clear that I tint to my liking. This glaze is a great clear as well as a great base that takes color very well. I’ve tinted it using Amaco underglazes as well as traditional combinations. I paint my work using Amaco velvet underglazes. I really enjoy the ability to mix them up and create new colors relatively quickly. All my work is fired in oxidation to cone 10 before each piece is completely sanded. I use diamond sanding pads from 3M up to 800 grit on the surfaces of all my work. It is at this stage when my pots start to come to life. Although this takes up to an hour for one pot, I get a lot of enjoyment during this process because I get to thoroughly get to know each pot individually before I pack it up.

Sanding pads after three years of use

Sanding pads after three years of use

I am currently without a website, but I hope to rectify that within the next year. For the time being, people can easily find me on Instagram @Sam_._Lopez where I routinely share my studio practice and daily shenanigans. In the next year, I hope to dial in my pots a bit more and continue growing as a maker as well as an instructor. Teaching ceramics has been such a great learning experience this last year and I look forward to continually growing and learning from my students. For now, I feel extremely thankful to be a part of the clay and craft community that seems to be growing more than ever.


“Mug”, included in the exhibition (click for more info)

"Cup", included in the exhibition

“Cup”, included in the exhibition (click for more info)

Sam is one of the award winners in our second annual “The Cup, The Mug” exhibition (juried by Peter Pincus). Stop by Main Street Arts to see Sam’s work through January 4, 2018 or buy his work  onlinestore.mainstreetartsgallery.com



Meet the Artist in Residence: Mandy Ranck

Mandy Ranck, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the months of September, October, and November 2017,  will be working on both sculptural and functional bodies of ceramic work. We asked Mandy a few questions about her artwork and studio practice:

Mandy Ranck

Mandy Ranck

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background.
I grew up in Lewisburg, WV, a small town in southern West Virginia. I’ve always been a maker, never giving may hands a break. Throughout my life I’ve been interested in knitting, baking, drawing and photography. I earned my BFA in ceramics from West Virginia University. I’ve apprenticed, taught both children and adults, and worked as a production potter. Since moving to New York I’ve been working as a studio potter and sculptor.  

"adventure", 2016, Mandy Ranck

adventure, mixed media, 2016

Q: How do you describe your work?
I create both sculptural and functional ceramic pieces that portray stylized versions of pastoral life. I do this by creating animal and plant life as viewed through a child’s, mind recalled by an adult. My main objective when I create a piece is to encourage the viewer to feel engaged and experience a child-like excitement. Whimsy has always been a part of my aesthetic and clay illustration has given me the perfect means to share my narrative.

storm, mixed media, 2016

storm, mixed media, 2016

bowls, terra-cotta, 2017

bowls, terra-cotta, 2017

Q: What is your process from creating a work or art?
My process almost always begins with drawing. Next I find textures, patterns and colors that really interest me. I am always collecting (photographing and cutting out) interesting designs.  Then I usually search for photos or drawings of objects that I’d like to creatively recreate or inspire me. After all that, I just start making.



Q: What are your goals for this residency?  
While working at Main Street Arts, I would like to create a cohesive body of work, focusing primarily on dioramas. I would like to continue to use clay as my primary medium, but also explore using ink, wire, wood, paint and paper. I’d like to continue to grow as an artist by experimenting with new forms and ideas. Texture and line are meaningful to me, along with the shadows and negative space they create. I have an appreciation for layers and depth, and I want to continue to explore different ways to use them.

home, mixed media, 2017

home, mixed media, 2017

mugs, terra-cotta, 2017

mugs, terra-cotta, 2017

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
I’m always finding new things that will add interesting texture to my work, make the building process easier, and help me create unique pieces. I use every clay and kitchen tool imaginable, make stamps and use screw heads to decorate. However, I use two tools daily; a microscopic needle tool that helps me draw through layers of colored clay and a small bamboo stick.  Neither of them are high tech, but I tend to panic when I loose them.

cook, mixed media, 2017

cook, mixed media, 2017

Q: Do you collect anything?
I collect mugs and yarn. Over the years I’ve collected untold amounts of both. I tend to gravitate towards mugs when I’m looking and other ceramic artist’s work. Nothing more comforting than a good cup of coffee out of a nice mug.  I like yarn because of the never ending array of color and texture it holds.

jars, terra-cotta, 2017

jars, terra-cotta, 2017

Q: What advice would you give to other artists?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and be open to constructive criticism.  Try to be involved in as many shows as you can and create a presence online.  Listen to other artists and ask them for advice. Most importantly, continue to create. 

Q: Where else can we find you?
Throughout the year I participate in several craft and art shows.  I have the upcoming events listed on my webpage.  I  also have work for sale at the Burchfield Penney gift shop in Buffalo, NY.

You can also find me on my website, www.mandyranck.com and on Instagram @mandylranck

Mandy is teaching a ceramic diorama workshop on Saturday, September 23 and 30 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Main Street Arts. Sign up on our website to reserve your spot!

Q & A with Bethany Krull

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.

Bethany Krull

Buffalo ceramic artist Bethany Krull

Bethany Krull

Q: Where are you from originally and where are you now?
A: I grew up in Lancaster New York (a suburb of Buffalo) and I am currently living in the city of Buffalo

Q: When did you realize you wanted to be a ceramic artist?
A: I started in clay at 17 in high school and knew by the time I started college.

Q: Did you make other types of artwork before finding ceramics? Do you currently make other work?
A: I played around with a lot of things in my past. I have and do work in many materials. In the past, when I had the facilities I was casting bronze, metal working. My husband is a woodworker and I have learned a great deal from him and often work in wood. I have done massive paper mache sculptures. Currently I’m making a sculpture out of white vinyl.

Q: What is your largest source of inspiration?
A: The natural world and our relationship to it.

Q: Do you look forward to opening the kiln? Or do you wince at the thought of something going wrong in there?
A: My work is very predictable, so I look forward to seeing the finished piece.

Q: What is it like being a ceramic artist in Upstate NY?
A: I enjoy the area.

Q: Where else are you showing your work this summer or fall?
A: Keenan Center, NCECA

Sculpture by Bethany Krull

Sculpture by Bethany Krull

Sculpture by Bethany Krull

Sculpture by Bethany Krull

Sculpture by Bethany Krull

Sculpture by Bethany Krull

Sculpture by Bethany Krull

Sculpture by Bethany Krull

Sculpture by Bethany Krull

Sculpture by Bethany Krull

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

Check out the previous Q & A with ceramic artist Michael Hughes.