Despite the late start they got, Robin, Bobby and Christa finished firing the train kiln by 1 a.m. early Monday morning. I bundled up and headed over to the school around midnight to see if they were going to go all night but by then they were already at cone 11 and concerned about the silicon carbide shelves that were beginning to form drips on the undersides. They all seemed happy enough to mud it up and call it a night, and they all looked overdue for a good night's sleep, especially Christa who took on the graveyard shift the first night and spent most of it warding off sleep and hypothermia.
Christa Ames is a classified 'special student' here at USU, which means she is hovering in that space between undergrad and graduate school, obviously committed to clay and wanting some time to develop her work in a supportive and educational ceramics environment. Which is why she chose to come to Utah in the fall of 2008, having finished her undergraduate degree at Washington State University in the Pacific northwest. In Pullman, she was the only ceramics BFA grad in her graduating class, and although found herself amongst a group dedicated to the arts, her studies were definitely cross disciplinary and she felt she wanted to work awhile within a larger community of clay junkies more like herself.
And as it sometimes happens, people fall in love, sometimes with like minded and in this case - like obsessed. She met Bobby Free (also a USU clay student) here in Logan and together I can't decide who is crazier, but a great couple and by Robin's standard a swell firing crew.
Here's a bit more about Christa:
Although my very first piece was a pink bunny that I made when I was three, still owned and cherished by my mother, I had a very inspirational high school ceramics teacher that was more likely why I got into working with clay.
What are you making right now?
Right now I'm making these sculptural narrative scenes that are part fantasy/ part reality I guess you could say. I make reference to things that have happened to me in these scenes as well and mix it up with mythology or fairy tales. I'm also using a cross section of materials to have a certain versatile affect.
What inspires you?
I'm inspired by the natural world and how we, as humans, fit or do not always fit into it. I'm also inspired by old fairy tales, story telling, dolls and other references from my childhood.
My plan is to be here until May and then I'll be moving back to Helena, MT. (Christa spent last summer working at the Archie Bray during the break). But I have a couple of ideas that I'd like to pursue, such as a month long residency in Vallauris ,France. I'd also like to have a show in Seattle that features my great grandmother's dolls.
Speaking of great grandmothers.....Christa brought over a quilt this week that has been hidden away in a trunk for many decades to share with my mom and I since we happen to be on a bit of quilt craze at the moment. Christa's quilt is called a crazy quilt that has been pieced together with a multitude of bright and vibrant velvets and other fancy fabrics that my mother has gone rather crazy over herself. The quilt is in impeccable shape considering that her great grandmother made it and how it has stood up over time. Christa's ambition is to finish the quilt (as it was never bound and finished), and my mom has been more than happy to do a little research and give her a few ideas on how she might go about it.
And speaking of dolls.....Christa strikes me as someone that my Isla could very well grow up to be like if she remains as engaged and fanatical about her precious dolls, coupled with her daddy's possible genetic penchant for a life dedicated to clay.