Monday, March 9, 2009

Glorious Diversity & Beauty ~ Dora De Larios

Last year I went to a show at the Folk Tree in Pasadena California and saw a tile with an image of a fish that grabbed my attention. Earlier this year a friend and potter told me of a friend of hers whom I should interview here, that friend is Dora De Larios and after looking at her website I realized that she was the artist who created the fish tile that I was drawn to. That fish as she explained was to be part of a large mural. Ms. DeLarios is an internationally known artist with large scale architectural installations all over the world. She is busy working on her upcoming show at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles; "Myths, Legends & Visions" and will feature a new series of sculptures called "Goddess" as well as a retrospective of her work. I am very honored that she agreed to an interview here on SoCalPotters, here are her answers to my questions.
Why clay?
The first time I touched clay in high school I felt an affinity with the material.
If not clay, what?
I have worked in other materials. Wood, cement, brass, copper, aluminum, drywall and plaster. I have also taken classes in jewelry making and gold leaf application. Don Olstad my best male friend was at my studio one day and I was having a hard time getting excited about clay. He suggested wood as a new area of exploration. We went to a wood tool supply house in mar vista and he bargained with the owned to purchase two bandsaw's for a really good price. He taught me how to use the bandsaw and I proceeded to create wood toys that were brightly painted. We also took a wood routing class. It was to scary for me. Don always said never use a power tool that you are afraid of. I have learned so much from all the craftsmen I have worked with over the years.
What inspires you? Life, people, travel, reading, studying, music, everything and anything that takes me out of my way of thinking and introduces me to other possibilities of looking at life from a different perspective.
Who are your favorite artists and why? Rembrandt, for his ability to capture the soul of the person. Magritte, for his freedom of expression not limited by conventional interpretation of space and forms. Munakata, for his freedom of wood cut expression. Man Ray for his brilliance in using ordinary objects in a new expression. It is impossible to list all the artists. There are also the anonymous artists in every culture who provide beauty in utensils. Pottery, woven materials etc.
What would you say to someone just getting started in ceramics who asks you for advice?
To love your work. To believe in yourself. I have known since the age of eight that I was to become an artist. I believe that God gave me a gift and all I needed to do is show up and do the work. I began my studio in 1957 and I am still here 52 years later. I have been true to the gift that I was born to express. Financially,It has been a chicken or feathers existence that has not been easy. In spite of everything I go to my studio every day and work. It is not easy to live by art. I have been very lucky in that I have had many people in my life that have supported my efforts by being loyal friends and customers. I realized prior to graduating from U.S.C. that the art world was fickle. One minute an artist would be in and the next moment out. I decided to create my own following and built on that over a long period of time. It worked out and I am grateful beyond words. I was also very blessed by having the opportunity of working with various art reps who were responsible for obtaining me commissioned work with site specific requirements. That lead in time to exploration of other materials such as cement, dry wall, brass etc.
I first saw your work last year at The Folk Tree. I love and am fascinated by tile and was immediately drawn to your work. How did “Life Force” come about?
What you saw was a Maquette for a proposal for a mural in Laguna Beach. Evalyn Daniel was responsible for the commission of a 8' X 40' porcelain mural with fish in relief of 3"-6". You can view the mural on my web site at The Mural "Life Force" took 15 months to complete with the help of 7 employee's. My daughter Sabrina Judge ran the job and could not have been completed without the help of the superb team of workers. The vision was mine and the work to accomplish the task was a team effort. It is a masterful work of art.
I took a workshop a couple years ago with Peter King, do you have any plans for workshops covering your architectural techniques? I have no plans to give a workshop covering the subject.
Tell me about your upcoming show “Myths, Legends & Visions” at the Craft & Folk Art Museum. I am very grateful to C.F.A.M. for this splendid opportunity and in particular to Maryna Hrushetska the Director of the Museum. Elaine Levin is the curator of the exhibition which will open September 26, 2009 to January 10th, 2010. It is a retrospective and will include new works. The new works are seven new sculptures that are 8'-12' high. The two largest represent the great oceans. Passing through these oceans the viewer will come upon five sculptures representing the Goddesses of Earth, Air, Fire,Water and Ether that portray the elements and the creatures that are part of those individuall realms. Together they stand as fountainheads of creativity. I believe that the environmentally destructive choices have been perpetrated by male dominated cultures, governmental and corporate entities. Earth, has been compromised over and over again by money. My hope is to create a body of work that reflects life in all it's glorious diversity and beauty. We live on a wondrous planet; regardless of where we live on the planet, we are one humanity.
What do you think of the handmade movement and the artist as activist, or art activism. I believe in it.
Whats your favorite cuss word? F---.
Whats your favorite quote?
"It is better to have imagination than education" Albert Einstein
Of course I believe it's better to have both in abundance.
You can bet I will be going to see her show when it opens and will post about it here. If you are going to be in the Los Angeles area later this year then make the Craft and Folk Art Museum one of your stops.

Again my sincerest thanks to you Dora!



MSGQuixo said...

And thank you Chris for bringing this to us! I used to go roving the web searching for new inspiring ceramicists. Now I just look forward to these great interviews. Thank you!

(And thank you Dora. Your work and words are so lovely and uplifting.)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful work!!!

Linda Starr said...

Great interview Chris, thanks once again, just love stopping in here and hearing about upcoming exhibits and such creative artists.

Elaine Levin said...

Since your fine article about Dora De Larios appeared, her retrospective exhibit at the Craft and Folk Art Museum has opened and is a "must see" event. Click on the link below for information about the exhibit.

Elaine Levin
Guest Curator
Craft & Folk Art Museum

Robert said...

I found your post when I did a web search for Don Olstad, and wonder if you know what became of him. He worked for a time in the '70's at my father's shop, Brent Supply, in Culver City, and I have a collection of his work from the time that has come to me from my father and my sister, both now deceased. I'd like to get in touch, if you know how.
Robert Brent