Martina Lantin | Episode 169
Selected as an Emerging Artist by Ceramics Monthly (2002), Martina Lantin received her MFA from NSCAD University. She has completed several residencies and her work has been recognized in numerous juried and invitational exhibitions internationally. Martina currently teaches at the Alberta College of Art and Design.
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What inspired you at first to become a potter?
That’s actually a complicated question especially if you separate potter from other forms of working in clay. As an undergraduate student I was actively engaged in coil building and I was more into coil building sculptural form. I was also in love with the wheel, but the wheel really came after I had been involved in sculptural form. I think of coil building being like wheel throwing in slow motion, with the potential to make an asymmetrical form. I think it was that slow process of slowly building and interacting with that material that I really fell in love with at first. The wheel then became the tool to work a little more quickly with the material. As I was thinking about what I wanted for my future I felt that functional forms were more immediate way to engage with the public.
How do you keep your own skills up to par after spending so much time with your students?
What I enjoy about teaching is that act of communicating what I do and how I do it. I think that is how my skills continue to develop and evolve. There are many things that can become intuitive- we have a muscle memory, or we revert back to a habit or a physical way of doing things. It may not be until you verbally communicate that to somebody else or try to help them understand how it is that you do something, that you in turn begin to understand how you’ve done that more deeply. I think that is how my skills continue to develop through that act of trying to verbalize what it is that I do.
How important are sales now that you are a professor?
That is something that I have been thinking about a lot. Sales are important to me not for the dollar value as much as that continued engagement with the community. So it’s not that I want to sell work in order to have money- the money is great, but I want my work to be out in the world and for people to engage with it and live with it. Honestly it gives me the opportunity to continue to develop it. Your work has to go somewhere because your basement is only so big. So selling the work for me feels important and imperative for people to continue to have that conversation.
Who is your inspiration?
I think my first huge ceramic crush, which may not be apparent when you look at my work, Hans Coper. I just think that the strength of his forms is really incredible and really powerful. His pots were the first ones that actually made me cry. There is just a real sensuousness to his forms and a fierceness.
What is your favorite form to make?
Maybe one I haven’t made yet? I’ve been making mugs the same way for a long time and there are still questions every time I come to them. the combination of proportions that keeps it compelling or keeps it interesting.
What is one trait you wish you could impart to every student that comes through your class?
The thing that I remember most when I had graduated school and had started my apprenticeship is that the making of functional pottery can be a very repetitive process. And when you are in it, making work designed by other people, work that is not your own, it is even harder to do this. So the trait that I would want students to take away would be to treat everything that you make as if it is the only one you’ve made and will ever make.