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Connie Norman

Bebe Alexander – Artist Interview

  Haven   Salt fired stoneware, 22 inches high 

Check out Bebe’s web site.  www.bebealexander.com 

Bebe is represented by Plinth Gallery!  Check out the exciting shows Jonathan is exhibiting!

Tell us a little about yourself!

I am a ceramic artist, living in Denver, Colorado. Most of my work is handbuilt, using slab construction. Surface is extremely important to me, and I use a wide variety of firing techniques to achieve the surface that I have in mind.I run the ceramics education program for The Arvada Center. The Arvada Center is a multi-use cultural facility located in Arvada, Colorado, and is comprised of three galleries, a history museum, three theaters, a conference center and educational classrooms, including a fantastic ceramics studio. I make, and bisque fire my own work in my studio at home, and then bring it to the Arvada Center to glaze fire, where I have access to a number of kilns and firing choices. Lately I have been firing my work at either cone 10 reduction or salt, and lately have been experimenting with cone 6 reduction.bebe Alexandria%20AlexanderHow did you become an artist? When I was growing up I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, who was an artist. She taught me how to paint, and entered me in my first show when I was 9 years old. I went to art classes and workshops with her, and she would take me with her to do site painting in the sand hills of Kansas.In high school I discovered clay, and it has been my medium of choice ever since. Because of my early experience with art, it did not seem like an unusual choice to become an artist.Hopper, 21" high, Bebe AlexanderHow 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? Like most ceramic artists, my work has been “all over the board” over the years. I tried many different directions, including throwing and hand building functional pots, hand building both organic, and more geometric, architecturally influenced sculpture. I Raku fired my work for about 10 years, because I enjoyed the immediacy of the firing process. I did not like the fragility of the work, and felt limited by the surfaces I could achieve about 12 years ago, and started experimenting with other firing methods including low fire, cone 6 oxidation, cone 10 reduction and salt firing. My work is now all architecturally inspired, and fired at either cone 10 or cone 6 reduction or salt.bebe C%20SentriesWhat is your inspiration for your pieces?My work is a reflection of my fascination with the inventiveness and ingenuity of the human race. The sculptures are very often based on architectural forms and machinery because these are the objects we create to change our environment and landscape.I am very drawn to the lines of deco and streamline modern design. I look at buildings, architectural drawings and illustrations, cars and house wares from the first half of the 20th century for inspiration.bebe urbanformWhat keeps you motivated?Never being completely satisfied with the last piece that I have made keeps me motivated. I always feel that I have a better piece in my mind than the one that I just completed, or am anxious to take what I have learned from a previous piece and apply that knowledge to the next. I think it would be very dangerous for me to complete something and be totally satisfied with the result, or feel that I have nothing left to learn from the next piece.bebe TikalAre 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?I am not a full time artist, because of my position with the Arvada Center, although my job gives me the unique opportunity to be in a ceramics studio daily. I am not always creating my own work, but I am continually involved in helping solve technical and aesthetic questions with the students in the program, which constantly improves my own skills.When I do get time to work on my own work, I spend a lot of time looking at images in books and online to get ideas flowing. I try to look at a lot of images, without focusing too much on each one, so that when I begin to work I am not reproducing an object, but rather taking elements that I have seen to combine them into a new form. I do some very simple outline sketching, just to remind myself of the general idea of the form. I then cut templates for the components of the piece out of roofing paper. I sometimes will tape these templates together before I start building, as a sort of 3D “sketch” so that I can see if the proportions are working.bebe SentinelsWhat was it that made you want to start creating? Did something specific trigger it?I have always had the need to make objects, and feel that that is hard-wired in my brain. It’s a personality trait that I couldn’t escape from, even if I wanted to. I love having the ability and opportunity to make a figment of my imagination into a three dimensional object that can be viewed and touched by another person.bebe RavisTurrisWhat or who inspires you?My early influences in ceramics were Hans Coper and William Daley. I think those early influences are still evident in my work. My inspirations now come from Art Deco and Streamline Modern buildings and design.bebe ObisHow do you maintain a healthy work and life balance?Maintaining a balance between work and life is one of the most difficult challenges for an artist. It can be very difficult, especially for women, to balance a job, family and a career as an artist. Sometimes there is just not enough time in the day, and something has to give. Unfortunately, what usually gives is studio time.I tend to work in intense bursts. When I have an upcoming show I schedule my time in the studio, just as I would schedule any other appointment or obligation. If I wait “until I have time” to get into the studio it doesn’t happen. During these times the rest of my life has to be put second to my time in the studio.bebe PeritusYou, 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 was in school I took business management courses, as well as art courses, with the idea that I wanted to open my own studio, and needed an understanding of how to run a business. I wound up working as a bank supervisor for several years, and took additional finance classes during that time. I then had my own side business for several years, doing consulting and tax returns for small business, specializing in self employed artists. I also was a co-director and treasurer for a co-op gallery for five years, and was responsible for the cash flow of that business.The advice I would give any artist in regard to how to run their business is to educate themselves, keep good records of expenses and income, and to never use the “but I’m an artist I don’t understand business” excuse. Being able to use both sides of your brain makes you a well balanced person. If you are a full time artist you must take care of the business side of your career, or you will not be able to continue being an artist.bebe Novus2What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice and look?I would advise an aspiring artist to try every idea and method that appeals to them, and to try and turn off their inner critic. Not every piece has to be a success, sometimes you have to make something to learn that that’s not the direction you want to go. Letting go of the fear of failure is necessary for growth in your work and finding your own unique voice.

bebe Captis1[1]

Thanks Bebe!!!

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2 Responses to “Bebe Alexander – Artist Interview”

  1. jim Says:

    beautiful work bebe… lovely surfaces. congrats connie on the 100 posts!

  2. Allegra C. 1-A Says:

    I really like the rustic old look of some of these pieces. Just the way they look is interestning to me, they are so out of the ordinary and i very much like that. When i seee these pieces i cant balance my brain on one thing… it really feels like my brain is bouncing all over the place!!! =)…and i love it!!!!