Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bread and Botanicals

Yesterday I spent the morning hanging out with CJ Jilek, another one of Robin's fellow grad students at USU. Late last week on a visit to the studio with the kids, CJ and I had chatted about making bread sometime together. 

It was my first attempt at spelt bread, and turned out pretty well - even after I mistakenly poured 1/4 cup of espresso into the batter. (A result of a string of sleepless nights up consoling and attending to my son's double ear infection status, thus the need for extra coffee that morning, coupled with trying to simultaneously make a chocolate cake - I wasn't exactly on the ball). I had offered to share my bread recipe in exchange for an interview of course, and CJ was only more than happy to oblige. 

CJ is in her final year at USU, with plans to graduate next fall. She arrived on the Utah scene back in 2007, and before that spent the previous ten years working and teaching clay in Santa Barbara and outside Chiko California. Her graduate experience here has been slightly extended due to catching the travel bug and making the most of the Study Abroad programs available. In her second year, she spent 4 months in Australia and New Zealand, and also participated in the same trip to Korea and China that Robin went on last May. But now she's putting her head down and earphones on and pushing through to graduate. Here's what she had to say.....

Why USU?

"When I was applying to graduate programs my work was hand built wood fired utilitarian work.  I wanted a program where I could continue working with function if I wanted to.  Shortly after arriving and working with my peers, I realized I don’t think like a potter and I switched to sculpture. When applying I knew there was a chance I would make this switch, USU was still my first choice because I knew with the technical knowledge I would be building at USU I would be able to make anything.  And with all the amazing opportunities to participate in study abroad programs I knew I could balance the technical base education from USU with the conceptual based education from a university in Australia."

Why Clay?

"When I was working on my undergraduate degree I was under the impression I was going to study Art History right up until I took that ceramics elective.  I was bit by the clay bug and have been doing it ever since.  I have worked in all the other 3D mediums but I always come back to clay."

What inspires you?

"Nature! I have always been a nature person. Even when I was making functional pots they were covered in these organic textures. People hate hiking with me cause I’m always stopping to check things out.  It use to be textures, rocks and liken but now it’s the vegetation. I love plants. My recent study abroad trip to Australia with all the tropical plants has fed my new series of work."

What are you making now?

"I have changed everything I do since arriving at USU. I now work at cone 6 with Porcelain both slip casting and hand building. I work with a variety of glazes from cone 6 down to 06 as well as room temp glazes ie. Shoe polish, paint, flocking, and scent… what ever it takes. All of this culminates into a series based on botanical forms using the sexuality of the plants as a metaphor for human sexuality." 

What's next?

"Good Question… I hope to be teaching workshops, doing residencies and working in the studio. Travel is very important to me. So I will be trying to wrap up all this together. But I guess first I should create a thesis show!"


Julie MacMillan said...

wow i love her tropical plants!!!....k i totally was going to call you tonight and pretend it was still january BUT i don't have your flippin number!!!! Rrrrk...so facebook, E-mail me or something and I'll call you tomorrow night if that works for you! What an idgit i am...should of taken it down the last time you called! K lets hope this results in chatting soon. Toodallooo juels

The Unknown Potter said...

Wow- thanks Robin. I remember my mother used to have these ceramic flowers i little clay vases- quite different, but I have not seen that for a long time.

The Unknown Potter said...

Sorry, I meant you not Robin