Talk Crafty to Me — An inside look into Arrowmont instructors’ connection to craft, Gatlinburg, and studio practice.
Artist-in-Residence Maia Leppo interviews Roberta Massuch – mixed media artist and artist-in-residence at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, PA. Roberta visited Arrowmont for the first time in January 2013 to attend the Surface Forum. Roberta recently taught “Clay, Concrete & Color!” August 14-20, at Arrowmont.
What is something you learned about yourself or your practice at Arrowmont?
I was thinking about the surface forum and how it allowed me to network with several artists. I enjoyed meeting new people and reconnecting with artists in a non-workshop setting.
What is your connection to craft?
I have been in the clay community for more than half my life. I assisted several workshops before and during graduate school. The craft school experience allowed time for me to investigate different materials and learn various techniques. Teaching also helped stream line my process.
What is a non-art inspiration in your current practice?
I look at a lot of architecture, specifically the work of Mexican modernists. Louis Barragan, Ricardo Legorreta, and Juan O’Gorman. I also look at James Turrell, Donald Judd, and Olafur Eliasson.
Did you ever make an ah-ha piece of work or have an ah-ha moment?
Yes, but at different stages in my career. My ah-ha moments almost always follow taking or assisting a workshop at a craft school. Once I return home, I utilize techniques learned in the workshop and incorporate them into my own work and techniques.
Tell us about your studio space. What is your favorite part of it?
Natural light. My studio at the Clay Studio in Philadelphia faces west. If I get there really early when the sun rises, the light hits the windows across the street and bounces back into my studio. I use that space for non-ceramic materials. I spend a lot of time drawing and developing compositions there.
How do you want someone to feel while looking at your work?
Poets have a way of summarizing a specific thing in very few words, like a feeling or an emotion, or even a description. The goal is to have my sculpture do that.
If you were stuck on a desert island, what tool would you bring and why?
If I had to go to a desert island, I would take my retractable blade. I could probably build a house with it.
What are you currently listening to in your studio and why?
I don’t really listen to anything. Once I have a plan, or if I’m making pots, I’ll listen talk radio or have the television on with a show I know really well so I don’t have to look at it. When I’m planning something out I don’t listen to anything.
Any shows or exhibitions coming up?
I have a solo exhibition at The Clay Studio in January 2017. Charity (her studio assistant) is curating a show in New Hampshire at the Carol House Art Gallery, which will be a group show with selected members of the Philadelphia clay community.