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Connie Norman

Jim Kraft – Plinth Gallery Artist Interview

Jim Kraft’s work is compelling yet deceptive. Kraft builds large container forms by using small pieces of cut or torn clay which is constructed in such a way as to appear as a completely different material.  This manipulation of the clay creates a visual deception, of baskets constructed of wood, fiber or cork pieces when in reality, they are ceramic.  

Seattle-based Kraft has worked in ceramics for over 30 years, and likes the idea of being a part of the long history of people making things with their hands. He has described his own work as an evolution of ideas, often influenced by the natural world and native cultures. Kraft often works with the idea of smaller parts making up the whole, and this can be seen clearly in pieces such as “White Keep” or “Kala”.  These large vessels are made using coil and brick-like pieces, or cut and torn clay parts assembled to create a vessel which appears basket-like.  Kraft’s use of texture in the clay is exciting, and this exploitation of texture, combined with his use of natural colors for surface treatment, further trick the eye into seeing a different material. – Jonathan Kaplan, Plinth Gallery

Ceramic Constructions” opens at Plinth Gallery on First Friday, November 4th, from 6-9pm. This exhibition will be on display during Denver Art Week and through November 26th.

For infromation please go to Jim’s website and to see the upcoming exhibitions at Plinth make the jump to their website

HOW DID YOU BECOME AN ARTIST?
I think I became a creative person first, it wasn’t until later that I thought of myself as an artist. As a child I loved to draw and I had a strong connection w nature. I was inquisitive. As time went on and I took art classes in school I realized I liked to work with my hands, to make things. Plus I had an innate desire to express myself. I would say it was when I was an adult and I had a career in ceramics that I started to think of myself as an artist. Perhaps I could see that others thought me an artist and that made me an artist. I think of myself as a creative person and a maker of things.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?
My style is what bubbles up from my interest in the vessel form, my interest in texture, my interest in nature and my interest in how previous cultures have distilled or combined these same elements. I want clay to look like clay. I meet it halfway, I don’t wish to over power it.

WHAT IS YOUR INSPIRATION FOR YOUR PIECES?
The vessel form in general and the things I mentioned in the previous answer; nature and other cultures. I’m generally inspired to be creative and to follow in the path of a long line of people who made objects with their hands… for ceremony or every day use.



WHAT KEEPS YOU MOTIVATED?

The need to be creative. To evolve ideas. I see the ideas in my head and go from there. I also take successful aspects of a series and build on those aspects in the next series.

ARE YOU A FULL TIME ARTIST?
Yes.

WHAT OR WHO INSPIRES YOU?
That’s a difficult question to answer as I don’t think I am directly inspired by anything. It’s a filtering and distilling of many things like travel, other visual art, nature, music, beauty, decay. If I had to say though I’d mention the cave painters, van Gogh, basket weavers,
Joni Mitchell, Cary Grant, Gandhi, John Merrick, Steve.

HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN A HEALTHY LIFE AND WORK BALANCE?
I’m a spin addict and I get enough sleep and I can sit around and do nothing for hours on end. And I travel.

ART BUSINESS?
Make peace w the fact that the Art World is a necessary evil. There is art and then there is the art world. Do your best to have integrity and don’t be seduced by the art world to become famous.

WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE ASPIRING ARTISTS STRUGGLING TO FIND THEIR OWN VOICE AND LOOK? 

Make what you want to make not what you think you should make. Let it come out, don’t think about it too much.  Art is another language, not one of words and ideas.

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