Talk Crafty to Me – An inside look into Arrowmont instructors’ connection to craft, Gatlinburg and studio practice.
Metals Artist-in-Residence Maia Leppo interviews Kenneth Baskin – clay artist and educator. Kenneth was a studio assistant at Arrowmont over ten years ago and recently returned as an instructor for the first time to teach “Inventive Strategies for Slab Construction” during the two-week session, June 26 – July 9, 2016.
Maquettes and parts of the final piece
What is something you learned about yourself or your practice at Arrowmont?
I had the fortune of being a studio assistant for 10 weeks at Arrowmont. I did not realize at the time just how much my ceramic knowledge had expanded and how many connections I had made.
What is your connection to craft?
I am a Professor of Art/Ceramics at McNeese State University.
What is a non art inspiration in your current practice?
Most of my youth and a significant portion of my adult life was spent working on and maintaining machinery in a factory in Detroit Michigan. I use the knowledge I gained about machinery as a starting point for my sculptures.
What was your first ah-ha piece of work that you made?
Half way through my last semester of Undergraduate School I was making vessels in a throwing class. Our instructor pushed us to use the wheel in unconventional ways, this expanded my thinking and suddenly everything I was doing in ceramics just made sense. It was a pivotal moment for me in my ceramic career.
Tell us about your studio space. What is your favorite part of it?
I have a 500 square foot fully equipped studio on campus.
Why do you make art?
I have a deep need to create art and a very strong connection to my materials.
What themes are in your current work?
The conceptual basis for my art deals with ideas of forgotten industrial objects, age, decay, and shapes and their relationships to each other.
Best piece of advice you have gotten?
Do what you love and the money will follow.
How do you want someone to feel while wearing your work/ looking at your work/ using your work?
I think that it is important for the viewer to understand some of the ideas that I am thinking about. Feel a sense of age or time passing, think about the “artifacts” from the industrial revolution our society has left behind.
What special talent would you choose if you could magically gain one?
Super strength, my work is anything but light.
Any shows or exhibitions coming up?
I will be showing at the Springfield Museum of Art in November 2016, presenting at the Alabama Clay Conference in February 2017 and have a solo show at the Workhouse Art Center in Lawton Virginia in September 2017.
To learn more about Kenneth and his work, visit: www.kennethbaskin.com or follow him on Facebook.