Out here on the west coast art fair scene (Wa-Ut-Az-Ca-Nv)we old time full time functional potters have noticed we are not being replacedwith younger folks doing what we do-The question is this only out west oreverywhere?
I do know that collage ceramic programs in general havemostly sifted to art not functional programs thru the 80s and 90s. This hasbeen a fact even with Alfred’s (at one time one of the ground zero spots for functionalpottery) so my Alfred’s alumni friends tell me. We do see a few folks in their40s but we are all mostly in our 50’s and 60’s and rarely see at shows anyonein their 20’s or 30’s selling pottery.
We know its big hard work starting out-all the learning ofthrowing glaze making kilns firing etc .For many of us its our calling and werelish the work
Is it a lack of functional clay education in the system or something else?
This trend has been discussed by many of us for years-Its not a perception but a fact-
Yes there are hobby potters occasionally at shows but we aretalking about salt of the earth full time folks who make the items you useeveryday in the kitchen bath and in the home-not ceramic art but functionalitems
What are your thoughts on this?
I have always considered myself a functional potter. I like to think of how something works, why it works, what it is used for and how to improve it. I have played at this by changing the shape of handles, changing accent lines, basic forms, lips of forms, and so many other things that have always been traditional. Sometimes I return to the classic as they finally make sense, sometimes I prove to myself that my way was acceptable-maybe not better, but equal. I also find that I do forms that are larger, and yet functional. A lamp can be very sculptural, yet is funtional, some would call it decorative, as is water fountains, bird baths, bird houses, umbrella stands, planters, and so many other things. The studio potter can create these decorative items uniquely, each making their own statement, each approaching art, but maybe not accepted as such. At the same time potters can adjust to trends and interests faster than the industry out there, and so often they are the leaders of the new trend then industry comes in and mass produces what the potters started.
I think in the end, there will always be people out there that will want well made, decorative functional art to enhance their lifestyle. They may only be in the 1% maybe more, but they will be there. So I believe that there will also be potters out there that will fill that need.