How would you introduce yourself
to the Cluster readers?
I love being busy, building new work,
finding fresh connections, creating relationships,
and pushing the boundaries of my work and my life
to endlessly find new possibilities and experiences.
My work in clay is about pushing out of the confined box/spaces that clay is typically known to exist in, pushing the materials, surfaces, glazes and forms outside of known expectations. To accomplish this,
I tend to be in the studio a lot making both functional
and sculptural work, always with a mindset
open to change.
How did you get here
on your creative journey?
I allowed myself the permission to be who I am.
The older and more experienced I become the less
I find myself apologising for the path I have taken
to reach my goals. It took time to discover that although my approach and timeline were not linear,
the skills I developed on my path enabled me to excel during my BFA and beyond.
There was a freeing/defining moment in my work
and career where I turned my focus from the external pressures of people’s expectations towards the internal drive to make work that matters to me.
This shift in perception marked a turning point in me
and in my making, a turning point which I credit
for opportunities such as this. I recognise this shift
in my making was one found in privilege, it was not easily come by and was found at a point of my life
where my skill would allow it and where I had the stability to pursue the work of my choosing.
What drew you to ceramics?
Specifically, I chose clay as I love to work in three dimensions
and was introduced to the medium at a fairly young age.
The time and access I had to develop and hone my skills built a love borne just as much out of familiarity as it was out of the endless possibilities of such a malleable material. Beyond the specifics
of my experience, I’m drawn to a material we all have a connection
to in one way or another. We hold it in our hands, we touch it, we use it, the original softness of the clay translating into how we hold
and experience finished pieces in our daily use. I believe this tangible, tactile quality of the functional still remains in the sculptural.
There was a life, a movement, a softness that existed in the clay while
it was being formed, this energy remains and is so important
in the work I make.
Tell us about the work you submitted…
It was important to me to show a variety of work
that offered consistency for a full understanding
of what I do and what I plan to make going forward.
My work deals with nature and the changes that occur through the cycles of life, this is a theme that seems
ever-present regardless of the project I am working on.
How would you describe your creative style
and way of working?
I work intuitively, allowing the form to come together organically.
The components of my work are primarily wheel-thrown building blocks.
I always produce multiple blocks, more than needed, allowing room
to make reactive decisions as the form takes shape,
ensuring I am not limited or defined by the resources I have at hand. Surfaces, glazing, firing, and colour all occur in a flurry of activity
as experience, speed, and reaction to results combine together
to determine the finished work.
Key words to define your forms?
Movement, growth, form, patterns, systems, order, life, nature, colour – my work is about representing
and interpreting the patterns of growth,
complexities of movement, and signifiers of life and death found throughout the natural world – leaving the impression that the work is organic or somehow alive, familiar yet unknown.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
The excitement to find the next answer, the next result.
The test kiln is a curse and a blessing, at a 12-hour cycle to find
the next answer or the next failure, in the height of experimentation
it never shuts off. The pleasure, regardless of the result, in opening
that next firing, seeing what I have learned or what is yet to be learned
is endless motivation and inspiration to continue and face the next day.
Social media and you: the good, the bad and the ugly. Tell us all…
The challenge to keep up with and maintain our social media presence,
I think, is something we can all identify with. The pressure to appear complete
and present a level of perfection can be all-consuming.
I have found it counterintuitive that through the age of covid and the adoption
of zoom and facetime, we have become more honest not less.
Through the use of these technologies, used often in the face of personal isolation,
we have opened our homes to each other, shown our families,
appeared unkempt and honest. This created an opportunity for honesty
and genuineness within our social media platforms that had not existed before.
I feel, now more than ever, this portrayal matters most – this is who we are,
we are all just doing the best we can. I have found freedom in this honesty.
It has allowed me to share my progress, my inspiration and, in this sharing,
I’ve been able to develop my own work further and understand myself
and my inspirations in a way that was not so clear before.
Who are your idols?
The list is huge but defined by surface, presence, experimentation, colours and form, here are just a few: Ron Nagel, Barbara Hemsworth, Ken Price,
Lauren Mabry, Viola Fray, Akio Takamari, Tessa Eastman
What’s on your creative calendar for the near future?
I am feeling tremendously privileged as I am going to be able to place a large part
of my focus and time on creating work for this Cluster Craft Residency
and eventual solo show in London. I am also thankful to have received a creation grant from Arts Nova Scotia that will support the development of a new body of work based on virology research supported by a microbiologist working at a University
in the Prairies of Canada. I am teaching and attending several workshops throughout
the year and am hiring my first studio assistant for a term position.
Make your own work, make it the best you can,
make it better, then push it further.
Tips, tricks and secrets for making it in the art world?
There are always many tips and tricks, a few things
that I have found make a difference for me:
Ask if you don’t know! You can’t possibly know everything and there
are so many great and supportive people in our community that are happy to help out.
Be a part of the community. Build your connections in the community
you want to be a part of, support the up and coming, lean on the established.
Remember that it is your reputation that you are putting into the world.
Follow-up, follow through, and keep learning from each of your applications
(both the wins and the losses).
Remember, we are a small community, your positive impacts are going
to be noticed, remembered and recognised.
Thank you for reading,
Valeria, Daniel & Cluster Team.