My passion for clay has been a constant since I first sat at a potter’s wheel in my high school ceramics class. After the first week I naively/proudly declared that I would become an artist. This decision led me to Appalachian State University for a BFA in painting/ceramics and then on to a MFA in ceramics at the University of Florida. The ceramic departments at these schools armed me with the intellectual tools to problem solve everything from aesthetics to glaze chemistry.
Over the years I have been fortunate to be a resident artist at the Canton Clay Works, The Odyssey Center for Ceramic Art, and Anderson Ranch Arts Center. These communities provided me the support I needed to push my work in new and unexpected directions. Along with my time as a production potter at Black Mountain Studios these residencies gave me a safety net to learn the ups and downs of the business of making pottery. In 2004 I opened Carter Pottery and have since been producing work for exhibitions across the United States.
In 2010 I moved to Shanghai, China to be the educational director of the Pottery Workshop Shanghai. Living in a country with a storied ceramic tradition opened my eyes to age-old techniques and cultural practices. The combination of my frequent trips to China’s many ceramic museums, my dedicated group of students in Shanghai, and my interactions with Chinese coworkers taught me new ways of thinking and making on a daily basis. In 2012 I moved back to the US to start a studio in Santa Cruz, CA. As I work I am digesting my time overseas. Traveling has given me a new perspective on visual and material culture.
In 2009 I started the Tales of a Red Clay Rambler blog to document my travels and life in the studio. Writing about my experiences is an invaluable tool for understanding the world around me. In 2012 I started the Tales of a Red Clay Rambler podcast so that I could interview other artists about their craft, creativity, and lifestyle. My engagement with the ceramic world through the blog, podcast, and social media has become a core part of my creative practice.
After extensive travel in Asia and Europe my research has shifted towards establishing an aesthetic representative of my American cultural heritage. Earthenware clay is stretched into functional forms that have convex bulges to reference pillows and tufted furniture. This overfilled aesthetic is a visual metaphor for the casual graciousness of southern hospitality.
Decorative motifs like the white picket fence, a quintessential symbol of the domestic, establish a cultural context that draws from Americana. The accompanying floral patterns of Dogwood and Honeysuckle are power symbols representing growth and prosperity. These native Virginian flowers are drawn in a sgraffito style relating to the informal nature of Appalachian folk art. Verdant flowers captured in decorative form bring nature into the home satisfying a primal need to connect with our surrounding landscape.
My intent is to evoke community by providing functional pottery for small gatherings. As ceramics are employed in the service of communal eating a relaxed environment is created. This allows the participants to enjoy a form of intimacy that is often lacking in our business-oriented society. These personal times are a counterpoint to our career driven culture. The pots commemorate a bygone era when meals were at the core of communication. Well-crafted dinnerware calls the user back to the table where the heart of community beats.