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Connie Norman

Lisa Pedolsky – Artist Interview

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Check out Lisa’s web site, Two Fish Studio.

Lisa’s work can be seen at Plinth Gallery.

artful-home-spring-catalog-09-0011 Lisa Pedolsky’s forms are hand built slabs constructed in terra cotta. Beginning as a sketch, each form evolves with the use of patterns, cutting, folding, darting and assembling. Lisa uses many homemade or found objects to create unique patterns on the clay and to apply slips and glazes in an interesting way. 

I first became aware of Lisa’s ceramics when our work appeared together in The Artful Home Spring Catalog in 2009. (The photo on the above.)  Then our paths crossed again when Jonathan Kaplan of Plinth Gallery introduced us for the interview series.  If you’re dying to know how she puts her work together she is teaching a workshop at the Taos Clay Studio, July 17 &18!

Tell us a little about yourself!

I grew up in and around New York City and involved myself in the arts throughout my childhood.  In the early seventies I moved to the Bay Area where I pursued my formal art education at California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, and U.C. Berkeley.  Presently I live in Durango, Colorado where I am a studio artist.

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How did you become an artist?

I’ve been a “creative” all my life. In elementary school an hour in the art room was the highlight of every week, and in my later childhood years I was scandalized to learn that Art was not everyone’s favorite subject in school. Playing at art was part of my home life as well, and art progressed naturally as I became more serious and focused over the years. It was a given that I would study art in college. (What else was there?) My post college path was circuitous for a time but I always returned to art. I think it was both nature and nurture that did it for me.

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How would you describe your style? One of the hardest things for artists to do is to stand apart from everyone else. How long did it take you to come up with your own style and signature look?

Style is a tough one to convey in words. I have not consciously worked at developing a style. Rather, it is something existent that I have cultivated. Each of us has innate tendencies: our touch, flamboyance or exactitude, approach, etc. An overview of my work from earliest pieces to my most recent body of work will reveal characteristics throughout that are uniquely mine. As my work has developed and matured over time these characteristics have become more pronounced and refined.

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What keeps you motivated?

It certainly helps to love one’s work, which I do.  Many years ago I identified myself as a strongly kinesthetic learner. I find that information and ideas are best addressed when I am in motion, and so it comes as no surprise that my process is so physical in nature. Working with my hands both engages and frees my mind.  The purest moments in the studio occur when I am completely given over to the work and time seems not to exist.

I am compelled to create.

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Are you a full-time artist? How do you come up with your creations? Can you walk us through your creative process when dreaming up new pieces?

Yes, I am a full-time artist.

My process of slab construction is very much like package design or dressmaking, and a plan must be hatched before I touch the clay. I spend hours thinking about forms and do a lot of problem solving before taking pencil to paper. All pieces start as drawings from which patterns are made. Patten pieces are attached to the clay slab followed by cutting, folding, darting, connecting, etc. I also have a strong idea about surface treatment from the start. That said I’m open to deviating from my original plan if something interesting presents itself along the way. It’s an exciting, engaging process. Attention to detail and fine craftsmanship are paramount in my work, and I find my own character in this regard to contrast with that of my gritty earthenware clay which is loose and casual in nature. The clay and I have developed a wonderful symbiotic relationship over the years.

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What was it that made you want to start creating? Did something specific trigger it?

I have been a maker of things as far back as I can remember. The act is more than the mere fabrication of objects; it is my way of processing information as well as communicating, and runs the gamut from meditation to obsession.

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What or who inspires you?

There’s no short answer, but here are a few examples.

In 1972 I visited an exhibit at MoMa, African Textiles and Decorative Arts. The sublime nature of the work through the use of unassuming materials was striking. There was an intangible depth (something beyond physical attributes) in much of the work that I found engaging and which I strive to achieve in my own. The human touch evident in so many pieces stirred me. Many of the objects from that show – textiles, hats, implements of all kinds, and so on – remain influential. Through my show catalog I continue to contemplate these pieces.

I have another book, now out of print, called How to Wrap Five More Eggs. It contains page after page of images of ingenious Japanese packaging. Dried fishes strung together with raffia have an unexpected beauty. Humble materials are used to extraordinary ends. I am able to see these objects through a child’s eye, with no preconceptions, as so many pictured are unfamiliar to me. I value this perspective.

Lately I’ve been noticing the effects of urban decay – distressed street striping and rusted dumpsters in particular – with great interest and curiosity. This will undoubtedly affect my work in some way.

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How do you maintain a healthy work and life balance?

I pay attention. I’ve been working at my art for enough years to recognize when I need a break, whether for an hour in my day or a day in my week. My studio is right outside my back door, and although I am quite disciplined this easy access allows for less rigidity in my work schedule. There are times when I push long and hard to meet deadlines, but time in the studio can also be seductive. I make room for the people in my life and my many other interests. Balance seems to affect my performance as an artist in a most positive way.

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You, like most people enjoy the process of making and crafting and didn’t get into it for the sake of “business”. But eventually you found yourself having to make the transition from crafter to a businessperson. What have you learned so far and what advice can you give others in the same situation?

When I discovered that I wanted to spend my days in the studio above all else, business was inevitable. In my opinion, the work is never to be compromised. Trial and error has great value. Research. Learn from others. Be accountable.

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What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice and look?

Make honest work. If you’re stuck, start with what you know. Experiment. Take risks. Be courageous.

Thanks Lisa!!

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One Response to “Lisa Pedolsky – Artist Interview”

  1. Suzanne Tyrpak Says:

    I love Lisa’s work. It’s functional and fun!

    Great interview.