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kristen ballou

studio pottery.

"Formal complexity is not an index of richness of content"

                                                                                                                                                                                              L. Alloway

 

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I use a variety of stoneware clays and porcelain, high fired to cone 10, in oxidation and (sometimes) reduction and salt/soda fired. I am enamored by glaze, clay texture and character of each, and spend considerable time exploring  further, with each piece made.

 

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statement.

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about.

I like to create studio ceramics that have the essence of making a singular statement, a glimmer of beauty, and either put into practical use or merely touched, looked at and responded to. Pottery is ‘of the ground’ wet mud, dry clay, coaxed and worked by hands, fired in high heat, and enduring. Used in the everyday, handmade pottery makes the everyday that much sweeter. The sometimes simple objects of the regular goings-on of life, are what we gauge our routines, our comforts, our existence. They are hardly unimportant, they are tiny markers, between style and sensibility that signify our being here. In my ceramics work, each piece is truly coming from my hands, placed into yours.

I grew up with art (and artifacts) all around me to learn from, touch and be influenced by; Southwestern Native American pottery and rugs, Eskimo/Inuit stone sculptures, Minnesota (Mingei) folk pottery and so many antiques. And the artifact, the journeys its' travelled, who used it, held it, and left it behind matters and intrigues me. These pieces leave their mark, a tangible definition of sorts, of who we are, in some intrinsic way.

 

The ceramics I make are useful, with an expressiveness to it, in the shape or surface treatment or even its quietness. I enjoy discovering what is unique within the ordinary. My pieces are not overly fussy, use broad markings formed by the firing and have muddy, natural, unrefined colors. I am drawn to mid-century design styles and earlier eras of modern ceramics. I am thoughtful with regards to my material and the conversation of what I envision and what the clay will allow me to coax from it. The movement of clay is so responsive and there are so many parts to blend together to craft a single piece. The thinking and tactile is imperative, ‘talking with your hands” could be no truer to me, as I see pottery as communication.

 

I have a dozen notebooks full of ideas, sketches, notes on pieces to be made, techniques to try and master, inspiration, photos and lots of drawings, I usually start here, with many of my thoughts kept inside on spiral pages.

And I've decided there is never enough time to make all the things I want to, but that the journey of making is just as important.

The essence of craft is bound to the hand, to the process of working, of making and being appreciated. 

Ceramics is very collaborative at times. It offers direction and exploration and is endlessly creative. I consider myself a maker and potter.