I use it as a platform to address real life is concerns, and experiences. To shed light on addiction , on sleep, and to commemorate a friends life and passing. It manifests in ceramics and printmaking, but the documentation of the artwork will reach more people than the vessels I make ever would.
The picture or video of the piece or process is valued more today than the art I create or technique employed. I have fought against this by fostering community through ceramics and local engagement. Ultimately, ceramics should be experienced, touched, visceral and felt. They are so much more than a picture of a pot on a computer screen.
Art has the power to create conversation, provoke emotional responses, and bring people together. By challenging social stigmas and expectations I aim to create works that are empowering expressions of truth. Art helps me find meaning in the obstacles I face.
It takes courage to walk towards an uncertain future, but for me that feels like freedom.
My father past away from cancer right after I left Medalta, so that experience was lost in the grieving process for awhile. My adventure at Medalta was a month long mentorship with Christopher Reid Flock in July 2018. My incredible experience at Medalta set the tone for my ceramic work for the next few years. Inspiring me to continue educating myself on atmospheric firing techniques and apply for grad school. Learning from the other artists as you watch them work in person is very different than instagram right? Our group was asking lots of questions and we were helping each other through feedback.
The group planned our time firing the soda kiln so we could get multiple firings. The work that I had came out of the soda kiln transformed from a bisque cup into a spiritual vessel of influence. It was crazy how much spraying soda in the kiln at a certain time in the firing process, transforms some pieces and ruins others.
I was shocked at how fast the clay dried in the prairie dry heat. My mother’s family was from the Regina, Saskatchewan area, so it was cool learning more about where my grandmother grew up in Canada. I was connecting with part of my cultural heritage and it was magical. Unfortunately, we were supposed to be the first group of artists staying in the BMO Artist Lodge. Construction had fallen behind schedule from the holiday week in July and we are sorry but you need to find your own housing. That part was a shit show for me. I stayed in a hotel across town and then eventually rented a place at the college for a decent rate. I did sleep in my car a few nights and I was cranky about it.
I’m reflecting back on my month long mentorship residency with Christopher Reid Flock. Located at the SHAW International Centre for Contemporary Ceramics part of the Medalta International Artists in Residence (MIAIR) Program located within the Historic Clay District, in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.
My family wanted me to fly back to Vermont but I had my car and a carload full of tools and ceramic work in Medicine Hat, Alberta. I was determined to drive back
Tony Hansen and Tim the vice president took care of all my belongings and shipped them to Montreal for me. I also ordered a truck load of clay.
I went back to Vermont and spent time with family. My father was waiting for me to come home so he could say goodbye.
and bought a Bailey propane gas kiln so I could continue learning about atmospheric firing. After spending the summer learning about high fire clay bodies such as Plainsman’s P700 a beautiful porcelain clay body. It’s consistency is soft enough to use right out of the box. Unlike Polar Ice which is finicky and needs a few steps before you can start making with it. Both clay bodies have translucent qualities. The P700 glows slightly blue after a reduction firing with natural gas. Polar Ice is a mid fire cone 6 clay body, which can be fired to high fire temperatures in a gas/wood fired kiln. It has more of a white/yellow glow to its translucent fired form.
Back on Vancouver Island I missed a few opportunities to fire my ceramic work in a wood firing Anagama kiln. My exposure had been limited to pit firing, raku firing, and electric/oxidation firing. My home studio had two electric kilns. After buying several used kilns, and receiving a grant from the Nanaimo Art Council. I was able to afford my first used kiln with a digital controller. This technology made me not fear the firing process so much. I think a certain amount of fear is healthy when using a kiln, that has a month’s worth of your work in it.
Learning to use a kiln sitter, which is a semi-manual safety mechanism that flips the power off once the pyrometric cone bends enough. Indicating that the kiln has reached the appropriate temperature. my kiln had a lot of use from other people I mentored or needed kiln space in the community. Let’s just say when potters get impatient and fire clay that isn’t dry it becomes like a grenade in a kiln (sometimes). A student of mine learned a valuable lesson, when work gets rushed and impatience wins… you jeopardize not only your own work but anyone else’s work in the kiln. The lid had some S cracks from a bad screw/bracket design and that explosion ruined the kilns efficiency.
I replaced most of the kiln parts like fuses and it still wouldn’t work. This was a huge problem for me because I fired all my work in my home studio, as I was still finishing art school. Eventually I was able to definitely test/prove that it was in fact the cracks in the lid that prevented the kiln from reaching temp. Trial and error learning takes time. Not only was I in Art school but my only income came from selling my work in a couple art galleries and a local coffee shop.
Donna from Vancouver Island Pottery Supply introduced me to the President of Plainsman Clays. I pitched him an idea of allowing me to help them build a social media presence. Initially he said no, because he needed to get permission from the board. I offered to do it for free or until they had time to evaluate my proposal and assign a value to it. It took a few months but eventually the board understood that this service was important to the customers and could be a tool for the future. After months of working with Plainsman Clays, I was able to afford a new Cone Art Kiln.
My first MFA installation at Vermont College of Fine Arts had a segment of collaborations with three of the artists at Medalta. Erin Berry, Steven Osterlund, and Alexander Borghesan. That speaks to the cohesion that Mentor Christopher Reid Flock had achieved with us. He encouraged us to PUSH through our discomfort, fears, and inadequacies.
I had the pleasure of touring the new BMO Artist Lodge. I cooked dinner for all of us, and then we watched a movie together in the new lodge. It was really an honor to cook my family’s fresh marinara sauce just cherry tomatoes, basil, and garlic. I prepared Caprese salad a classic dish from Capri, Italy made with fresh mozzarella, Basil, and tomatoes. My father Antonino Di Ruocco was a world famous chef from Capri, Italy. This was my way to show my dad that he was in my thoughts.
Celebrating the life of Andy Williams aka DJ A_Dog in Burlington, Vermont, USA.
I heard somewhere in my travels that as a community we get sick or we get healthy together. What I witnessed Saturday August 26, 2017, was a community of people coming together in memory of Andy Williams. Skaters, DJ’s, artists, friends, and family. A community of people commemorating a Burlington icon, featuring both established and emerging talent.
For myself, it was a dream come true. Participating in this year’s event was truly an honour. Thank you to The Friends For A_Dog Foundation for approving my project and allowing me the creative freedom to create an installation that held true to my vision.
‘Timeless DJ A_Dog’ is a mixed media art installation. A medium mash-up of ceramics and printmaking. Translucent porcelain skateboards with screen printed images of DJ A_Dog. Displayed using plexiglass, wood pallets and salvaged wood. The structure and decks were illuminated by LED lights that were sound responsive to the music.
How on earth did I come up with this idea/ concept?
I witnessed an amazing spectacle at the new Showroom location in Duncan, BC! I was witnessing something fresh. A change had taken place. Kendall Patrick and the Headless Bettys were not only entertaining the crowd but captivating it. Instead of the normal on stage banter, there was improvisational theatrics. They played new tunes and demonstrated how talented they all were. Taking turns dazzling the audience individually and as a group.
As their manager, I was shocked. I threw down the gauntlet to them last week and said: I want new songs and I want you to have fun with it. They did that and more.
Most days in our private life I am three roles constantly interchanging between the lover, manager, and very dramatic premadonna artist.
When I am working on the pottery wheel I convince myself this mug might just save the world.. It’s like an artistic god complex.
I find it very hard to be objective of my own work when that creative mojo is pulsating through me. It feels sacred.
On nights like June 3rd I don’t question my purpose or direction in life. It’s clear to me that I am right where I am supposed to be.
At the encore of last nights performance an older gentleman went up to the stage and whispered something to Kendall. I could see in her face that she didn’t know what to do.. The gentleman who I had never seen before requested a slow song as the encore. Kendall did her best to handle the situation and almost turned down the request. Without hesitation I yelled… You better take that man’s request! She played her singer/ songwriter heart right out. The whole crowd appeared to be holding their breath. The man that had made the request was now glowing. He was now a solidified true fan. It could have gone a different way.
My mother would always refer to the customers at the ristorante needing to be fulfilled and leave feeling special. They might then tell one or two of their friends. If they left mad or unsatisfied you could guarantee they would tell at least 5 people and might not ever comeback. The customer is not always right, but they deserve to feel as though they are. It’s a rotten business in that sense.. No room for excuses or alibis.