Sunday, May 18, 2008

Douglas Black

I was drawn to Douglas Black not only because of his incredible creations, but for his words as well. The piece above is titled "Inner Warrior" which he says is "a sort of angel messenger that helped me re-boot"; Douglas lives and creates in a beautiful valley along side a river in Japan. In his profile on Tribe he says "Live&BE in the mountains, -----city excursions, love to make & get into it and then the time out--recharging with sips & bits of pleasure.... >allergic to fake people. Inspired by the beauty of our mystery."
WHY CLAY?
For it's infinite possibilities of self-expression and an endless capacity to nurture! Clay just has so much creative potential yet can be very self-reflecting at the same time.
It was the nature of clay and the natural process involved in the making that first attracted me to ceramics. I found a comfort, a challenge and a connection, all there within the timeless art of clay and fire. I find that in touching the Earth with a conscious mind and sensitivity to the natural forces that it is just rewarding in itself, much like one gets from gardening, not to mention my fascination with fire! What I love about clay is the freedom there to explore and evolve creatively while having a profession that is also grounding. Also, when making, I often sense a relation with the common spirits who have created ceramics throughout history, spiritually and/or functionally. I have always been intrigued with ancient civilizations. It is with clay that I first discovered that time can become fluid while creating and I am able to just tap in to something I am really drawn too.
These are all parts of why clay, as a medium, will always be at the base of my creative being. I enjoy many mediums but whether I spend time building my house or making sculptures of wood, metal, glass or any other project, I always have a feeling of something like 'coming home' when I get back into the clay.

WHAT GETS YOU IN THE MOOD?
Taking time outs are essential to me to get back into it. After an exhibition(s) I usually stay out of the studio for awhile. Every year I usually have one good, long break from the clay, for a month or two, and some other breaks for weeks at a time. It is good to step back and enjoy while reconnecting the new ideas with some older ones. It's good to have some fun and when I have had some I know it's time to get back in the studio.
When I do get back into it, it often seems that I get deepest into my making moods after the Sun goes down.


DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHEN YOU WORK?
Music is vital to my creativity. Turning on the stereo in the studio is one of the first things to get me in to the mood. As to what I listen too, it depends on how I feel and at what time. I very much like many kinds of music and my studio has a nice sound system where I don't have to worry about the neighbors.

WHAT MOTIVATES YOUR WORK?
There are many motivations in creating art and they will not necessarily always be the same. The best motivations for me involve personal visions I want to follow through with, directions I want to move towards, and just things I want to try. New ideas. I have these visions of feelings and, for me, it is these that are the most important to manifest.
Other motivations can be my children, doing some event for fun, or for someone I like, or even the moolah. Yeah, I mean in reality, if I have no money and something comes in, most likely I will make that so that I can continue in getting closer to other projects, not to mention food. I started from zero and have built my studio and house all myself and there can be no denying that I have made some cups to buy some lumber to build over my babies. Of course ideally, with no responsibilities to other people, I unequivocally prefer to just make directly from the source of my own creativity and this is my goal, that I do feel I am getting a bit closer to.


WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE ARTISTS AND WHY?
I don't know who my favorites are any more. I had favorites and many inspirers in the beginning but it seems to have been many years since I have thought much about this.
Artists that I thought were pretty cool in the college days were: Jun Kaneko, Paul Soldner, Peter Voulkos, Stephen De Staebler, Isamu Noguchi, Richard Long, Dale Chihuly, Mark Peiser, Ban Kajitani, Doug Coffin..., really too many too list. I was just so excited with art that I had an interest in looking at just about anything that others had made, all the possibilities, and to be honest I forget many of the names now. I was also stimulated by the Southwest, some of the old traditional Japanese pots, and the Jomon and other ancient art.
Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Andy Goldsworthy, James Turrell, Gregory Colbert are some of the artists I have checked out recently. I really don't follow what is going on in the art scene these days.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE CUSS WORD?
FUCK'n!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLEASURE?
Wow. I got lots of those. I assume we are talking creatively, with clay, right? I mean I love fine beverages with fine foods with fine friends in great places, and hot baths under the stars, not to mention many, many, many others... I love when I get back in the groove of making in the studio and the tunes are playing and time just slips by..... I love it when I sell a piece to a person who really enjoys what I am about.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE JUST GETTING STARTED IN CERAMICS WHO ASKS YOU FOR ADVICE?
All people are case by case but generally, just to do it rather than talking about it. Do a lot and try a lot. Try all kinds of things, experiment, make mistakes and discover what you could never have thought. Eventually something will find you. You will develop in the direction of your attractions and the next doors will continue to open.

WHAT IS YOUR FEELING ON THE ARTIST AS ACTIVIST,ARTIVISM? AND THE "HANDMADE" MOVEMENT?
I believe there is an importance found in something that is handmade. Many of us live in a machine made environment, overwhelmed by the distractions and manipulations of media. Warmth and feelings that are essential to our well-being are recorded within something handmade and it is my hope that more people will realize this importance.
Of course there are many kinds of art. There is many ways to be radical too. I love conceptual art and installations and am open to activist art but more so if it is positive. There is enough negative all around us. I am more interested in healing and finding a balance or harmony between things than expressing more unbalance. I think this way will have better influences on people. Of course people need to be informed but not bombarded in ways that they already are.
I might not even know what you mean by this question since I am living way out of any "movement" and just more involved with living and evolving and hopefully able to influence some of the people I come in contact with.

I want change too. Taking back our governments, waking up people and enjoying life..., yeah, I'm all for it!

YOUR SCULPTURES ARE BEAUTIFUL, TELL ME ABOUT THEM, ARE THEY THOUGHT OUT COMPLETELY OR DO YOU START WITH AN IDEA AND LET THE PIECE UNFOLD ON IT'S OWN?
Thank you! I would like to tell you more about them.
The latest sculpture series of mine had very deep meaning to me and the process of putting them together was a lot of fun. To answer your question,- both. I think out ideas and I am also flexible in changing something that has sparked into another spontaneous discovery, which can happen often with clay. It is the nature of clay and I enjoy following these surprises. In fact, the first sculpture of this series came about very suddenly and sparked the whole series of ideas. It had been a long time since I had the freedom to create sculpturally and I had also been through some major happenings in the last few years... It was so important to me to get creative again. I picked up clay, after a very long recess, and I made something. A few hours disappeared somewhere and I was making in a way I never had before and some ideas just came out. Soon I started another and then had the base made for the 'Inner Warrior' and the plans for all it's parts. I drew out general plans for all of these sculptures, and more, in those next couple of days.
Within the process of making each one I re-connected with what was vital to me. Nothing else hardly mattered. I don't know exactly where they came from but I felt as if each one was a sort of angel/ messenger, or a guardian, or warrior. Not a fighting warrior but defender of truth, harmony and what is right. I don't mean this in any 'cheesy' way. The positive time I spent there was all important in dealing with some major shit that had happened to me. This is where I found the phrase 'inner-warrior' and why I titled my exhibition 'Many Awakenings'. These sculptures were very technical and involved a lot of planning because of the variety of elements; ceramic, fused glass, cast glass, wood, steel, stones, and LEDs. It took time to work it all out. For about 3 months I tried many new things, searched for things and learned much and was in one of the most satisfying creative grooves that I have ever been in. Now I have all of that as a technical platform to dive into my next series. I am excited about it, I have many new plans, and it all started from that 1 spontaneous spark!
It is my passion to work with many mediums in a way in that they relate to each other harmoniously in creating a warm and kind atmosphere that is both grounding yet dreamy. I hope to reflect some of the beauty of our mystery and the wonder in our existence. I hope what I make can resonate with a positive, creative human energy that can be enjoyed by anyone who shares their space.

CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT "SOUND OF EARTH"?
'Sound of Earth' was an installation done in Akasaka, Tokyo, on the 37th floor of the Arc Tower Mori Building. This entire floor was a showroom for the INAX Corporation. At this time I was involved with a group of artists, designers and musicians called, GEOIDWORKS. I was doing stage design collaborations and involved in the performances. I was asked to make an installation as well as an exhibit of sculptural instruments made out of clay with a large centerpiece monument for a space that was designed by an adobe architect. We did 2 live performances in the space using all of the instruments. The ceramic monument had a big glass disc in the center which glowed with a majestic presence. It was surrounded by various thick, large discus shapes that I designed and that appeared to be floating to give a sense of endless time. I made rawhide drums, udu drums, rattles, large porcelain bone-like chimes and built an on-sight huge, thick, round, egg-like, or womb, sculpture, with 2small holes on top. I kept the sculpture at almost leather hard, and the sound engineer put a mic into it. This was played as a big drum that made a wet, echoic vibration and was used in the dynamic climax. It was quite a nice space as I remember looking out the very large window out into the Pacific ocean and on the other side, through the other window all the way across the building, looking out at Mt. Fuji san.

YOU LIVE IN A BEAUTIFUL SETTING, HOW MUCH IS YOUR WORK DEPENDENT ON IT? OR COULD YOU CREATE THE SAME IN A CONGESTED URBAN SETTING?
Living in the beautiful, riverside mountains amongst a good hearted, agricultural community has definitely changed my life and has no doubt greatly influenced my spirit and creativity. Most definitely my art would be affected by whatever environment I had chosen to live in. I remember when living in downtown Columbus, Ohio my work was much more industrial. I made really thick clay sculptures, ripped and torn and fired with chains and other metal. I was feeling the state of our unbalanced, industrial, polluted planet. I remember when I was making a large glass sculpture it influenced my eye for beauty. I began to feel a better sense for the silent and symbolic language between different mediums and became mostly interested in this within my mixed media work.
At one point I realized that my art, what I was making, would eventually make me. The art you choose to make will eventually make you much like your environment will influence you as well. When I realized this I consciously chose to evolve a different way and with good fortune, eventually this place found me. I think I am able to reflect it's beauty in my work. Probably I would have had a really hard time developing in a big city because I can be easily distracted and intrigued by whatever I get into, and no telling what that would have been, but now I am more focused on what I want to do and most likely it will only be a matter of time before I will be doing some work in an urban environment.
I do have plans for a little change of environment very soon! I will be leaving the jungle of Japan to go make some art in the dessert of New Mexico this June/July.


To see and learn more about Douglas Black visit his website, DouglasBlackArt.
Thank you Douglas! Peace2u

6 comments:

Josh said...

Great interview. Great fodder for my creative dustbin. :) As a newbie in the world of the "ceramic arts" as such, I was inspired by his responses to your questions.

No pretense; just go forth making.

I see a pure statement and individuality in the work.

His objects are "fuck'n" beautiful.

Chris McCormick said...

Yes they are indeed!
Thank you Josh.

Miri Flesher said...

I admire your works and way of life in Japan. Enjoyed reading your answers to the ever -clever questions of Chris :) have also a
feature here. You are invited to read!

Miri Fleisher said...

Miri Fleisher is the name :)

mineeds01 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mineeds01 said...

California is famous for Pottery too. They have came across many potteries with beautiful arts and designs. Thanks for the photos!! Really looking great . People, if you need services on this category, please post your request on Mineeds.com and providers will post their bids on your needs.

California Pottery & Glass - Get Bids & Save | MiNeeds