Talk Crafty to Me – An inside look into Arrowmont instructors’ connection to craft, Gatlinburg and studio practice.
Metals Artist-in-Residence Maia Leppo interviews instructor Bob Ebendorf and assistant Tara Locklear. Bob taught “Lost and Found: Personal Adornment” during the two-week session at Arrowmont, June 26 – July 9. Bob is co-founder and former president of Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG). He received his BFA in 1960 and his MFA in 1962, from the University of Kansas, Lawrence. Tara received her BFA in metals from East Carolina University, where Bob was named the Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professor of Art in 1999.
What is something you learned about yourself or your practice at Arrowmont?
Bob: Often time the students are smarter than I am. I think this is the way to do it and in our conversation they have enlightened me in their wisdom. I learn from the students. The two weeks are like a laboratory of research giving and taking information.
Tara: My practice because it is production founded and streamlined in one direction, this time here with the students and getting away from my regular life makes me remember ideas, foundations that I had forgotten and allows me to work in a think tank as a group.
What is your connection to craft?
Bob: I am maker- Working with materials, problem solving, and craftsmanship, reaching for excellency.
Tara: I feel like my connection to craft not only started with my dad in his quest in making and his hand working, but fast forward to when I was adult and I am very connected to craft in the way I think, investigate, make and challenge every day. And I always strive to make my craft family proud.
Bob: Only recently did I connect the dots, my grandfather, who was German, and my grandmother, were both tailors and had their own tailor shop in Topeka, Kansas. I am doing the same thing, measuring, fitting, sewing, and making.
Tara: With my father being a machinist, I see the relation to my own mechanisms.
What is a non-art inspiration in your current practice?
Tara: Watching my godson play- he is 18 months old- and his fresh view on learning.
What was your first ah-ha piece of work that you made?
Tara: My costume concrete jewelry necklace from 2010.
Bob: High school craft class, making my first ring. (He still has it!) Learning something about making, having an idea and seeing it coming into form. The idea that is in my head, marks on a piece of paper, seeing it actually come into reality, form. That is pretty magical.
Tara: It was the first time I allowed myself to take the time to measure and figure out my way of doing hinges without using the rule book, and using concrete and glass and it all working. The first time I slowed down.
Tell us about your studio space. What is your favorite part of it?
Bob: The studio is a place that I can be playful. Whether it is making a post card, collaging and drawing on it, or breaking a saw blade. I am in total control. It is a small world, but I am in control. Is that ego? It is a place that I feel comfortable and nurtured, and make mistakes. Playful is big.
Tara: My studio space for me is a place where time stands still, and there are no clocks. When I shut the door, turn on the lights, smell the familiar smell, and feel like nothing has changed. I don’t have clocks, or a computer, I just see the sun come up and go down. I don’t let anything enter that space in my head.
What are you reading currently?
Bob: The Pearl by Steinbeck
Tara: Donald Judd, his last collection of colored work.
Why do you make art?
Bob: It fulfills the reservoir, passion, self-satisfaction.
Tara: Definitely passion as well, and it allows me to remember that I can make things that are different and rely on myself and my own skill set to make things that I believe in. And remember that I am a creative and playful person, even on the worst of days. I feel like sometimes it is hard to be different, especially in today’s world, and that is why I make.
Bob: The flower garden, time in the kitchen and time with my mate.
Tara: Spending time with my extended family, and my godson. It is a special time that I carve out once a week. And keeping a schedule that I have dinner with my husband every night. Bob always reminds me you can make $5 or $500 but you can’t repair the damage you made by not coming home.
Best piece of advice you have gotten?
Tara: That is the best piece of advice I have gotten in maintaining an art practice. I am in control of my business, and I make those decisions, and it’s time to take that back. Slow down. Manage my schedule so I am not gone every weekend.
Bob: Balance in big. You can get big and to live with me is hard, I get out of control with my ego and passion. A younger person might not catch it. Another $500 in the bank is good, but that balance is so much more important. Trying to live life to the fullest. And ego and control can really destroy you.
What special talent would you choose if you could magically gain one?
Bob: I wish I could play a musical instrument and enjoy sitting around the campfire and signing Kumbaya.
Tara: I would love a magic wand that would erase everyone’s negative memories so they could enjoy life.
To learn more about Bob and his work, click here or visit his page on the Smithsonian American Art Museum, americanart.si.edu/collections/search/artist/?id=1391.
To Learn more about Tara and her work, visit her website at taralocklear.com or follow her on Instagram: @taralocklear Twitter: @taralocklear or Facebook: Tara Locklear Jewelry.