Steven Showalter | Episode 305
Steven Showalter is a Potter and High School Art Teacher in Minnesota. His current work is inspired by his wood-firing experiences. His desire to capture the unpredictability of wood-firing led him to work extensively with glaze development to create a rich palette of runny glazes that are inspired by his surroundings.
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What does “being creative” mean to you?
Being creative to me, I would say you would try to take all the things you have read or heard and synthesized them into something new. Take all the images and everything and put them into something new and unique.
Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating was something that you had to do?
It is something that I have to do, that’s why I work a lot at it. Even when I was a kid I was building tree houses. Right away when I was young. My dad is a painter and I grew up around art and that lifestyle. I was always drawn to making.
What kind of rituals or habits do you have in your life to be able to support your creativity?
I am always looking at people’s work. I am obsessed with being online and looking at people’s stuff. Also, every time I go into stores I pick up everything. I am constantly talking to my wife about how someone did their handle or finished a foot or this could be a cool idea. Looking through a Ceramics Monthly, Instagram, all those things have been really informative.
What is one of your favorite things that you create right now and why?
I really love making teapots. They are challenging when you are putting them together. They feel very sculptural and I just don’t make enough of them. I am going to try and do that more this next year.
Are you ever trying to communicate anything with your work?
Not really other that I just want mimic what I was doing with wood-firing years ago. I want it to have this natural feel to it. Having those glaze drips was always something I loved.
What is the best advice you have been given to be able to help you be more creative?
I think to try to explore things that are natural, but it is also good to explore things that are uncomfortable as well. They push you in different directions. They make you think about things in new ways. Sometimes people assume because I do a certain type of work that that is the only type of work I love, but in reality I like all different types of work. This is just the choice I have made for right now.
When you are upset do you like to be alone, do you like space, or do you like attention and why?
Space. That is when I retreat to my studio, so it makes it seem I am upset all the time. (laughter)
In my heart I am an introvert. On the other hand, I am a teacher so you can only be so introverted. I am around people all the time. But I do really love that studio time.