by Joanna Nixon
Earlier this year, I wrote a blog post titled the Short List. The idea behind the short list was to spotlight some really talented Indianapolis visual artists that people should know. And continuing in the effort for you to know them better, this week I'd like to introduce you to "Short List" artist, Barbara Zech.
Barbara is a contemporary ceramic artist who creates unique sculptural wall installations and tiles out of clay. What I really like about Barbara's work is the way that she incorporates vibrant color in her clay pieces and how she threads interesting textural elements and patterns into her work. Barbara's work would be great for people who appreciate ceramics but also those interested in sculpture. Because her work can be mounted on a wall in almost any space it creates endless possibilities for unique wall installations.
When Barbara isn't creating new work in her personal studio near Broad Ripple, she enjoys sharing her passion for ceramics by teaching classes. A fall workshop schedule in her studio is forthcoming but if you are creatively inclined or interested in trying ceramics for yourself, Barbara is teaching a Pop Up Workshop at the Indianapolis Art Center on August 3rd. (The other cool thing is this Pop Up ceramics class is part of a project that was made possible by a SmallBox Nice grant. Thanks, SmallBox.)
Now, please meet ceramic artist Barbara Zech:
What is your background and how did you get started as a ceramic artist?
Barbara: I had a great high school art teacher that encouraged me to attend college at Herron School of Art. I was a Fine Arts major, with Sculpture as my focus. I took ceramics as an elective, loved it, and finished my BFA in Ceramics. I started working in the arts immediately, exhibiting, and teaching at art centers where I could use their kiln and fire my work. Over the years I invested in a kiln and other equipment, and now have my own self-contained clay studio. I've worked with wonderful mentors and friends that help me realize my path as a working artist. Pursuing ceramics full time is a labor of love; it can be hard, dirty work but I find it very rewarding.
What do you want people to know about ceramics or clay as a medium?
Barbara: It's important to look at all types of work in this medium with an open mind. Whether you're a fan of traditional pottery or contemporary art, all (good quality) ceramics can be equally appreciated. Also, consider for a moment, the world of ceramics: from mud huts to bricks and tile, from ancient pottery shards to dinnerware, contemporary sculpture, spacecraft parts and toilets. Ceramics is a big part of our lives, and the history of civilization. It's mind blowing, really.
When you begin a new piece, what are some of your sources of inspiration?
Barbara: Textures, patterns, nature, textiles, architecture, and more. Sometimes I start a new piece with a specific purpose or outcome in mind. When I'm not feeling inspired, I listen to music and throw pots on the wheel, it's a good way to clear my mind for new ideas. Traveling has definitely informed my work - marveling at vast land formations, and visiting museums and galleries throughout the U.S. and abroad, meeting other artists, and experiencing different cultures. I've made several trips to east Africa to teach, which has had a profound impact on my life. All these experiences are intuitively referenced in my work.
You do a lot of unique wall pieces and tile projects. Can you talk more about your interest in ceramic being sculptural elements?
Barbara: I've created sculpture and installations over the years but had more success with wall pieces, so, I'm compelled to do that type of work. I actually just started creating ceramic sculpture again recently. I typically work in multiples, and like to create organic sculptural objects; right now I'm experimenting with raw clay as earth art. There are limitless possibilities in clay sculpture, the latest innovation is the use of 3D printers, but personally I'm more interested in a hands-on approach.
What do you charge for your work?
Barbara: My ceramic wall pieces range $150 - $500. I also make pottery and other small pieces in the $25 - $100 range. Custom tile (murals, backsplashes, fireplaces, etc) depends on the scale and scope of the work, based on square footage, complexity of the design, interior vs. exterior, and installation.
Where can people see your work?
·You can see my work at Editions Limited Gallery.
·You can visit my studio by appointment and I plan to have an annual open house in December (date yet to be announced).
·You can also check out my Facebook page to keep up with the latest workshops and shows.
What is the preferred way to contact you if someone is interested in your work or even a commission?
Barbara: Email is the best way to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I'm currently booking custom projects for home and commercial spaces, with individuals, interior designers, restaurants, and more. I'd be happy to discuss any project ideas large or small. You can see samples of my work and tile installation on my website gallery.