Adam Field | Episode 267
Adam Field is fascinated with antique artifacts, the way they can speak of mastery of lost peoples, places, and cultures. This inspires Adam to create works that both radiate history and capture his own place and time. Adam’s works toward a clean aesthetic that celebrates the masterful simplicity of antique Far Eastern pottery, while retaining the modest utility of colonial American wares. The surface of Adam’s pottery is meticulously carved with intricate designs that borrow from nature and incorporate the human touch. Much of the carving on Adam’s work is informed by the pattern languages found in indigenous fiber art, such as Hawaiian tapa, Incan cordage and Zulu basketry.
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Why workshops?Why should someone put time and money into attending workshops?
Well, it’s really easy for us to get comfortable with what we are doing in our own studio. There is nothing wrong with that except it does get to a point, invariably I would say, where you can kind of get stuck in a rut. A philosophy that I have followed that has really been helpful throughout my career is when I am too comfortable things need to get shaken up. And there is really nothing better than making yourself vulnerable. Going to a workshop is a vulnerability thing because you are making this thing that represents you in front of a room full of strangers a lot of times, if it’s hands on. Otherwise even with the questions that people ask, you are kind of putting yourself out there and that’s where the growth comes from. For me it’s great because it’s a way for me to get out of my studio and I learn just as much as anybody taking the workshop when I teach one.
Why workshops for you the teacher? Why do you do them?
I really enjoy them and I feel like I do have information that will help people view what they are making with clay in a different way. Not just what they are making in clay but really how they see the world. I feel like I offer a different approach.Anybody teaching a workshop is gong to offer a different approach but I feel like that can be valuable to people who are maybe not quite sure what the structure is for taking ideas or thoughts and moving that through a process. I guess the short answer is I feel like I am able to help people by teaching these workshops, and I get a lot of fulfillment out of that.
How do you use a workshop as a potter who is trying to up his game or her game without becoming a mimic of the teacher?
That is where I try to set forth this structure of, here’s how I do it, but it doesn’t mean you need to copy the work I am making. As an example, with the images I take and put on Instagram, generally people might not know how important that is to the work that I make. Just about every image I put out there is something I can go back to and say, here was what I was looking at in that plant or that flower and here is how it makes its way into my work. So I am offering a structure that says, what catches your eye in your life? And more importantly are you taking the time to treat those things with importance.
Once a person attends a workshop, what kind of things should a person then do in their studio to be able to keep the tips fresh and turn it into part of their own work?
I had an interesting experience with that because I used to go to workshops and I would watch them intently and I would take tons of pictures and I would be thinking, I am going to go back and try all this stuff out. And I have never felt like such a failure in my career as those times because they would just mess me up so bad. That is not to say don’t try it, but I think it is really important to have the perspective of, give it a try, and know that the learning that comes from it isn’t in mimicking as much as getting out of that comfort zone.
If you had the choice of a Master’s degree or workshops galore, which would you take?
Adam: Can I add a little caveat?
Paul: You can do whatever you want.
Adam: Obviously I have gone the apprenticeship route and this is a conversation that comes up a lot for me because I kind of inhabit a realm of the ceramic community that is traditionally filled by people with an MFA. I didn’t go that route. So I talk about this a lot. I think in finishing with my Bachelor’s degree in Art and then going to working in a ceramic supply store and getting to take a bunch of workshops, I learned very quickly that I was able to learn a lot more by dong that direct kind of experiential training. That is not the case for everybody, obviously, most of the field has a pretty high percentage of people who have gone the academic route. I don’t know that I am going to have a clean answer to this one other than it’s an answer that is going to be directly related to that individual and how they learn.