A ceramics and pottery pro, creative Kate Lewis has spent years honing her craft. From Michigan State University, to Massachusetts, to Harvard, to Denmark and then back, she is dedicated to improving her skill. Lewis brings form and appeal to clay in a way unmatched. Her methods have been recognized by the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art, and local Grand Rapids business owners. Her hand made dishes and bowls are not only admired, but also put into use. One can see her cups and dishes throughout the community. She often compares art to the soothing nature of waves. Much like how waves ripple within a pond, Lewis continues to bring her craft and education to other interested artists. She teaches youth classes while working to impact the community around her. From hand to clay and clay to kiln, hear about what Kate Lewis says about the intrigues of ceramic and pottery art.
FM: What role, in your opinion, does the artist have in society?
KL: The artist’s role is to express their truth creatively. If they take the opportunity to share their creative perspective they can inspire others and be a part of meaningful cultural experiences that build community. They can inspire society as a whole to approach issues with creative solutions.
FM: As an artist, where comes your art inspiration from?
KL: When I am in the act of creating, my inspiration comes from my connection to the material. I could work with ceramics my whole life and still not know everything there is to know about firing clay and glazes. The concepts behind the ceramic pieces I create come from my personal experience as a spiritual being in the material world.
FM: Are you currently working on a project?
KL: I just began making several hundred dishes for Sonder Provisions, a new restaurant opening up at Terra Square in Hudsonville.
FM: Where is your favorite place to see art? Why?
KL: It keeps me constantly inspired to notice that art is everywhere. I am especially excited by unexpected encounters with art and exploring the museums, galleries and underground art spaces in different cities.
FM: What is the most indispensable item in your studio?
KL: I would say clay, my medium, but it would actually be more accurate to say water. It is what makes the clay workable. You could not work with clay if there wasn’t water in it. I have worked in a couple studio situations without running water and it was rough. It really makes you appreciate the element [water] that much more.
FM: Where are you finding ideas for your work?
KL: I work together with clients and their ideas to design custom ceramic objects. When creating work with no intended purpose I tend to rely on intuition to form the clay. The content is a reflection of my inner world. Sometimes I make quiet, contemplative pieces. Other times I express an idea directly by carving words on the surface.
I have been calling this body of work that I started over 2 years ago ‘words on clay.’ It ranges from quoting local hip-hop artists whose lyrics inspire me, to personal thoughts on dating and relationships, to quotes from the I Ching–a Taoist spiritual book I refer to daily to come to terms with our current political and social climate. The last words I carved were ‘We can’t tolerate hate. What have you done to fight racism today?”
FM: What work of art do you wish you owned?
KL: I wish I owned a piece of pottery by M.C. Richards, one of my heroes of clay. I feel that if I had a piece that she made I would have something physical to connect me to her curious, contemplative, and playful process that inspires me so much.
FM: Who’s your favorite living artist?
KL: Ai Wei Wei.
FM: Do you have any hobbies in addition to your work?
KL: I enjoy practicing yoga, vegetarian cooking, going to the beach, going on nature walks and attending hip-hop, electronic, jazz & local music shows. Thanks for taking the time to photograph me in my studio.
645 Fulton W
Grand Rapids, MI 49507
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