Melanie Sherman | Episode 368
Melanie Sherman currently resides and works in Kansas City, Missouri. She has a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute. She completed various residencies, recently at the Archie Bray Foundation and Anderson Ranch. She was awarded the 2014 Regina Brown Undergraduate Fellowship (NCECA) and the 2014 Windgate Fellowship Award.
This is the Studio Sander that I mentioned in the opening of the show. It has changed my life in a big way. My friend Forrest Middelton has it available on his website. Click here: flmceramics.com/studio-sander
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For all your ceramic needs go to Georgies.com
How did you get your story defined to be able to share it with your audience?
I think you have to really put yourself out there and you really have to try what works and what doesn’t work. You have to be willing to fail. You have to make mistakes and just say, OK that doesn’t work. You have to constantly put yourself out there. Make new experiences, even if you are not feeling very comfortable doing so and it will just add to your story.
You said you are an introvert earlier. How does an introvert share their story?
Well one great thing that we have is social media. That is just posting. You really have to get over what other people are saying. It doesn’t matter if you get forty comments that say, Oh my gosh this is beautiful. You know, that doesn’t fill my cup. It boosts my ego, but then one person says, Oh my gosh, what the heck is that? and then your ego is down the drain. You just can’t think about what other people are saying about it. I mean it is great that so many people like what I do but I can’t define myself by that. You cannot define your happiness by that. It is one tool to tell your story.
How important is knowing your audience for building your story?
I don’t know, I feel like as a human being we all have a common thread that we live by and we all want certain things in life. So I don’t think audiences are that different. I talk a lot about my travel and I talk a lot about the residencies that I have been to and the people that I have met. That kind of symbolizes what I do put into my work. So I do use German gold for my German heritage. I talk about the blue and white ware that I eat my meals from because that is what my parents used. I talk about all these things, family and love and connection and friends, travel. So it is not like I am talking to specific audiences all the time. You can talk to an audience in China about these things and you will connect as well as here in the United States. I think in the end it is all about how we connect as humans.
What do you want a person to feel when they pick up one of your cups or pick up one of your pieces?
I want them to feel special. I want them to feel special because they have such a special piece. The textures that I put on the cup, the way that I put a handle on it or the way I make the form. Of course, they should all feel great in your hand. I put a lot of effort into that. Just like every potter would. Then you look at it and your discover something new every time you look at it. You just feel special because you have such a prestigious thing, because there is only eight of them.
How do you differ from other potters?
I would say, just because of all the different techniques that I have picked up in Hungary and China and through my undergrad program, I mean there is not a lot of china painters here in the United States that draw on pottery or paint on pottery the way I do with such elaborate detail. I think that makes my pottery special. I think that sets my pottery apart from other pottery pieces.
Describe your perfect day.
My perfect day. Man, I have had so many perfect days in the last three years. And they have always been on my travels and for the most part I travel by myself. So the perfect day would include a challenge like hiking a mountain or something like this. I would do it all by myself and I would succeed and I would feel so good. That would be my perfect day.