Friday, April 29, 2011

Featured Artist: Becky Grant

Becky Grant is an amazing ceramic and jewelry artist living in Humboldt County. I met Becky while taking jewelry courses at Humboldt State. She had a lot of energy and always brought creative ideas to the discussions and critiques. But it wasn't until she presented her portfolio that I began to understand the breadth of her creativity and artistic skill. Whenever I see one of her ceramic pieces I am blown away by the detail and life that she brings to her work.

 1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I live in Petrolia with my husband and two of my sons on 40 acres.
My oldest son is gone to college. We have 29 goats, 3 cats, 1 emu
and a puppy named Oscar. The hundred year old hay barn in the
middle of our land is now my husbands woodshop and my studio.

2. Describe your work in one sentence.
How about a sentence for each medium?
Ceramic sculpture: My love for all that is cast-off or time worn is
reflected in the aesthetic of figurative pieces which are usually
autobiographical or referencing my alter-egos.
Metal: My spontaneous working style results in simple, and often
whimsical pieces.

3. What pieces are you most proud of?

In my third semester of Small Metals and Jewelry at HSU I made a
hollow-form ring that had the tiniest hinge and latch on a lid that
opened to a compartment holding a writing surface. Within the lid,
another compartment with a hinged door held miniature pencils. I
never got a good photo of it but whenever I looked at I couldn’t
believe I made something so tiny and precious and complicated and
even clever. I was very proud of it but still decided to trade it for a
gorgeous ceramic abalone shell made by Malia Landis that I will be
using as a basin sink in one of the bathrooms in the house we’re

4. What are your favorite materials to work with?
Low-fire clay, silver

5. What direction do you see your work going in?
Both mediums should become more involved as I make more time
for them as I settle into routines at home and my kids get older. I’ve
been a mom for my entire adult life so I’ve always had to rush to
finish projects. Just having more time influences my work heavily
because I can either work more elaborately and detailed, and I can
also refine and perfect it as well.

6. Who or what is your biggest artistic influence?
How can I choose one of the many artists that I love- Beatrice Wood
(for her ceramic and the jewelry she wore); Janis Mars Wunderlichallowing
her motherhood to inspire rather than inhibit; Louise
Bourgeoise for her guts; Kris Patzlaff for teaching me how to really
work hard; Keith Schneider for keeping it real and spontaneous; My
Husband for being methodical and constantly perfecting his craft.
Sorry- can’t choose just one.

7. If you could have your work critiqued by another artist who
would it be and why? 

Ceramics: It would be a group of women at
the same time- Gerrit Grimm, Lisa Clague, Margaret Keelan, Janis
Wunderlich, and Chris Antemann. Okay- if I had a one-on-one I
guess any one of these women would be great too- sorry I’m really
indecisive. It would be fun to have you critique my jewelry, Erin!

8. What is the best advice you've ever been given?
I’ve been going to a really great Alexander Technique instructor and she’s been
talking quite a bit about not reacting and just allowing thoughts to
happen and see what comes of that- even with my art. I think it’s
going to take me to new places and is excellent advice for me
because I over-think most every situation.

9. If you could add one tool to your collection what would it be?
Oohh- sorry- indecisive here as well. A rolling mill for metal; a slab
roller for ceramics (and possibly to use for print-making as well)
and a sand-blaster for both.

10. What do you listen to in the studio?
Books usually. Lots of
books- all different genres but mostly I love historical fiction.

11. What is your most prized possession? 
The Yellow House! It’s the
1888 Carpenter’s Gothic Revival we’re restoring, and it’s absolutely
a dream come true. I drove past it for about seven years at least
once a week before we were able to buy it. I sometimes get a bit
panicked that it will burn down, or there will be a huge earthquake
that flattens it before we’ve even finished. I hate to feel so
possessive but my heart just melts when I cross the footbridge over
the babbling creek and climb the hill and it just seems to be waiting
patiently for us to mend its broken parts. We’ve recently restored
two of the original casement windows and I almost cried when I first
opened and closed them and they worked like new. The views are
gorgeous from every window but they seem especially lovely
through the old wavy glass with fresh paint on the windowsills. See-
I’m obsessed with it!

12. Do you collect anything? If so, do you display your collections?
Okay- I’ll have to keep this to a minimum too so I’ll just list my
most favorites: old buttons, vintage suitcases (which are great to
hold my antique dolls and vintage fabric collections) antique jars
and bottles (most of them were found digging in old dumps in
Petrolia and around the house we’re restoring), beach glass (which I
like to store in the old jars) and art books. I have a few small
displays but since we’re living in a little cabin while we restore our
house we don’t have much space for collection display but I look
forward to using these collections in the house when it’s finished.

13. How do you spend most of your free time? 
Since I have a job (I’ve managed for 13 years), my art is in my free
time but my other free time I use to work on the 1888 farmhouse
we’re restoring. It hasn’t been lived in since 1972 and although
we’ve done the big projects such as putting a new foundation under
it and a new roof on top we’ve still got lots to do in between. Since
my husband is a woodworker and restoration is his passion and I
wanted an old house to restore since I was a young girl it works out
perfectly- now I just need a bit more patience.

14. What do you wish you were doing with your free time?
It’s hard to put off opportunities to show and sell art so I like to keep up
with that. I do like to slack-line too and love to SUP so I hope I can
do that often this summer.

15. If you could change one thing about the world what would it be?
I have some close friends and family with cancer- I’d love to see a
cure for that. I would also like to level the playing field for the little
people by spreading out the wealth that’s so concentrated amongst
such a small minority, while the majority are hardly making ends

16. Where can we see your work?
I have a show at the California Ceramics Conference this
weekend in Davis and a piece in the California Clay Competition
there as well (The Artery, 207 G Street, Davis, CA 95616).
You can find some pieces on my etsy site- gypsygyrl
and this summer I’ll be in the HSU First Street Gallery in the Summer
Alumni Exhibition.

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