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Connie Norman

Ayumi Horie – Artist Interview!

                  Porcelain mugs rabbits

It is my great pleasure to interview Ayumi Horie.  I have admired her work for some time and I’m thrilled to feature her on my blog!  She is one of my most favorite artists.  Her work is stunning and unique.   She is a mastermind at organizing her sales and fundraisers on the internet.   Her ideas are fresh, innovative and enormous!  Ayumi has a unique way of “dry throwing” her pots using no water.  She is the first potter I’ve seen do this.  She complements this freshness of form in the decorating process by preserving drips and fingerprint marks made during glazing and slipping. Then she finishes them with her wonderful animal drawings.

For more information please stop by Ayumi’s website.

 Today’s the debut of Ayumi’s Match Striker Video! Enjoy!

 

Tell us a little about yourself!

First and foremost, I’m a studio potter. From this base and with a lot of help from the internet, I branch out to do a number of things. In the last few months, I co-founded Handmade For Japan, which has so far raised almost $90,000 for disaster relief in Japan and I’ve also just made a new video. I typically teach half a dozen workshops yearly, serve of the board of directors at the Archie Bray and get most of my work out into the world through selling online. The idea of advancing craft to a wider audience is key to a lot of what I do. I live in the Hudson Valley about two hours from New York City and adjacent to a 112 year old deconsecrated church where I host studio sales and craft shows.

How did you become an artist?

Art was always present but I committed to it slowly and after a long courtship. When I was fifteen my dream was to shoot for National Geographic, so after college, I started freelancing as a photographer for several papers in Seattle. When it became clear to me that clay was the right medium for me, I dropped photography for a long time but in the end, it’s served me well as a way to engage ceramics with the world. I have a new love of it.

This is a special picture of Michael Connelly taken by Ayumi while they were residents at Archie Bray.

I’ve noticed that you collaborate with other artists frequently; would you tell us how the collaboration process works for you?

It starts with an excited scheme to make something that hasn’t been done before on some level and then it just moves into problem solving. It’s a matter of finding the right fit with someone and then responding intuitively to what they do. It’s a bit like a road trip; it’s always more fun to share an experience with someone, finding all the unexpected and amazing things that pop up in two minds instead of one.

Andy Brayman putting decals down.

What are the similarities and differences between Obamaware and the Handmade For Japan fundraiser?

The most important parallel is that both began at a low point where I had a feeling of being ineffectual and powerless. When the “light bulb” moment came, the goals were at once clear and compelling to me. Leading up to the 2008 election there was a collective feeling among liberals that if Obama didn’t get elected, the country was done for. We all wanted to help and be a part of that change he was touting and so contributing as artists, by doing what we love and are good at, was really exciting. On the other hand, Handmade For Japan was born more out of concern than hope. The morning after the earthquake in Japan, I sat at the kitchen table emailing Japanese friends and family to make sure they were all ok. Like many people, I was really worried and had an intense desire to help. The understanding that something needed to be done, and done quickly, was such a certainty that the next step was all about action and rallying people. In both fundraisers, it was easy to find people who wanted to help.

The fundraisers were different in the sense that Obamaware was a “commissioned” and themed auction spanning five weeks from conception to auction end, whereas HFJ happened in two weeks because it consisted of work that was available in the moment and had a dedicated team of three (and we were all working a full 18 hour day for weeks plus had volunteer help). I was so lucky to have Ai Kanazawa Cheung and Kathryn Pombriant Manzella as colleagues in Handmade For Japan because with them, our ambitions, capabilities, outreach, and effectiveness increased exponentially. Obamaware made almost $11,000; Handmade For Japan made over $75,757 in the auction and almost $90,000 to date for disaster relief in Japan. We’re also grateful for the institutional support we received. eBay and MissionFish waived their fees because we were donating 100% in the auction and GlobalGiving, the charity we chose, publicized the auction and has continued to support us immensely. I think that both fundraisers are great examples of the power that artists have to affect positive change through the mobilizing force of the internet and through the good will of people who support the arts.

Handmade For Japan East Coast Headquaters

Handmade For Japan East Coast Headquaters

I’ve noticed that the pots in your postcards have always been in “action”? Was this the start of the pots in action idea?
When I first set up my website in 2001, one of my central ideas was to show pots outside the standard gray gradated background. While gray works well to focus attention on the pot itself and has its place, it somehow felt disingenuous to present pots in this singular way. From writings by Mingei artists, the ceramics community had already absorbed the idea of every day beauty and so it seemed like a natural progression to show pots as they really are. Like any other object, they live in the world we present, as well as in our mess. They live off in the corner and then circulate on to the table with some lovely morsel of food on them. Underscoring their place in our imperfect realities and showing how people really fall in love with them felt like a great way to champion pots.

The idea of “Pots in Action” started with postcards, moved on to the website where I asked people to send in pictures of my pots in use, then expanded into using Google maps to plot the pictures, and finally has been explored via the new match striker video. Combining a modern medium like video with a timeless phenomenon like fire makes us see ceramics differently. We all know in the ceramics community how amazing pots are, so the charge now is to turn on handmade pottery to the rest of the world.

Ayumi Horie Match striker postcard 2010

What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice and look?
Reflection is great, but good work doesn’t come from a lot of thought alone, so work every single day whether you want to or not. And don’t forget to turn off the cell phone, iphone, ipad, tv, computer, etc…and now if I could just listen to my own advice…

SONY DSC

For more information on Handemade For Japan, please go to the website. 

Visit Handmade for Japan’s Facebook page.

Become come a Friend of Ayumi Horie Pottery on Facebook.

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2 Responses to “Ayumi Horie – Artist Interview!”

  1. ron p Says:

    Ayumi is an innovator and inspiration. And she makes really great pots!!!

  2. Linda Starr Says:

    what a fun video and great work too.