Wednesday, July 20, 1977 THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Fifteen
'Gratifying' craft never tires potter
By DENISE FOX interested in art since grade
As I. B. R e m s e n finished school but didn't become heavily
throwing another "one quart involved with it until he took up
hanking pot" and added it to ceramics at Antioch College.
the other fourteen, he didn't feel After receiving his MFA 'from
the least bit bored or tired the University of Michigan in
In fact, he enjoyed making the 1971, he studied in Sweden for
fifteenth pot as much as the several months and then return-
first ed to Ann Arbor to set up a
Pointing animatedly to his studio m his house
pots, his eyes glowing with Remsen said that he believed
pride, he explained, "To most, that it is not owning a studio
these pots are the same, but if which furthers your career-but
you look at as many pots as I instead how you feel towards
have you'd see them all as in- your studio.
dividuals." "A good studio potter doesn't
Remsen said to him, pottery really become good until he can
making is never monotonous be- work in a studio which is essen-
cause every type of construction tially an extension of himself,"
gives him a different kind of he said.
pleasure. "I can come down here in the
While molding and contouring morning and I can feel just by
a shapeless lump of clay into the air on my skin what the hu-
an attractive pot, he said, midity is down here," he said.
"When I throw my pots, 1 get "I can judge how long it's going
a sensual gratification." to take the pots to dry."
Pointing to about 20 little Remsen almost suffers with-
boxes, he said, "I get a visual drawal when he leaves his stu-
gratification out of m a k i n g dio for an extended period of
these." The different feeling was time
because the boxes involved slab "Because this is so much a
construction - a much more part of me, I find it very hard
methodical and precise method, to go on vacations," he said. "I
Remsen loves making pottery can't really be gone for more
because of the great freedom of than ten days."
expression it allows him. He
claims that by simply varying Remsen claims that the pro-
the type of clay, the kind of cess of becoming what he con-
glaze, and the shape, there are siders "good" was long and not
an infinite number of possible especially easy.
creations. "I haven't always made pots
"You can make glazes that do which have pleased me," he
just about anything," he said. said. "For years and years I
"You can make some that will made pots that I didn't like, but
grow crystals as large as a they sold. I just wasn't good
daisy, others that crackle, some enough to make the kind of pots
that are irradescent, others that that I wanted."
craze." Craze is developing a Remsen said that it took him
very fine network of lines simi- several years to integrate the
lar to a spider's web. whole process of pottery making
Remsen said that each time into his head. But now, he said,
he opens his kiln, he never quite as he mixes the clay, he is al-
knows what to expect. ready deciding what kinds of
"My father always said that pots he wants to make.
everytime you open the kiln it's Along with most other artists,
like Christmas morning," he Remsen is very excited about
said. "When you put the pots in the Art Fair.
the kiln," he explained, "the He said that he believed the
glazes are just different colors success and charm of the Fair
of gray and rust-there's no bril- was due to the feeling of cama-
liance - no shininess - there's raderie between the artists.
nothing. But when you take the "There's an ambience that's
door down, there's all thesedif- created a m o n g s t the artists
ferent colors-reds, greens, pur- which I think is reflected in the
pies, whites." show itself, whereby the whole
Remsen c o mp a r e s pottery thing becomes comfortable," he
making to conception, said. "When you go to an art
"It's like a gestation process," fair that's poorly run, there's a
he said. "You're putting some- tension that develops amongst
thing in that is essentially enert the artists, which is reflected
and undeveloped and through amongst the participants and the
the process of firing it . . . you whole thing just goes sour."
give it life." Remsen also said in addition
Remsen said that he has been to giving the artists a chance to
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display their wares, the Art
Fair familiarizes people with
the artistic community. He said
children especially rarely come
into contact with artists.
"I can remember when I
grew up, I never knew an art-
ist. I never heard of an artist,
and I never actually met one in
the flesh. I never really con-
sidered art as a possibility for
me, which was a tremendous
handicap," he recalled.
Remsen contends he is very
much an individualist.
"I consider myself basically
unemployable," he said. "I can-
not tolerate abstract hierarchial
systems such as IBM, U-M, or
any bureaucratic organization."
He said there are also draw-
backs to being an individualist.
You tend to like relying on your
own resources so much that you
can't tolerate having anything
to do with a group.
"I think it has something to
do with the American tradition
of being a rugged individualist,"
he said. "There is so much phy-
sical labor involved in setting up
a studio and doing the work that
feeds into it. You feel like a
strong back is your only asset,
and you don't want to get in-
volved with other people who
might not be as strong or as
dependable as you."
Although Remsen himself at-
tended an art school, he believes
that it didn't teach what he con-
siders the "best" way to ap-
"I don't believe in pursuing
ART, the Primadona,
the Mona Lisa of pots, in one
piece," he said. "That's what
art school is all about. There's
little subliminal creativity, little
inspirational dabbling around to
see what comes out. There was
a lot of cognitive effort in-
Remsen contended that it is
impossible to let ego dictate the
kind of pot work to do because
one's work can't help but re-
flect one's life experience.
"Rather than beat my brains
out trying to be creative, I
would rather allow for a free
flow between my mind and the
pot I'm creating, instead of sit-
ting down and thinking of the
best, most far out thing I can
do in clay."
I. B. Remsen completes another of his "one quart hanging pots" which he claims never cease to
give him a "sensual gratification." "I see each pot as an individual," he said.
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