Artist Spotlight: Collette Spears
Collette Spears was born and raised in Indiana, where she received her BFA in ceramics and BA in psychology from Ball State University in 2014. She has exhibited nationally and is the recipient of four NICHE Awards, completed a one-year residency at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and is currently a resident artist at Carbondale Clay Center. Her striking double-walled vessels are the subject of the Center’s First Friday opening from 6-8 p.m. June 3. She recently sat down to talk about her work.
Post Independent: How did you get into clay?
Collette Spears: This wasn’t really something I was planning to do. I took a high school ceramics class, and that was going to be it. Then I ended up applying to the art department. I was originally going to go into art therapy, but it seemed more fun to make pots.
PI: What was appealing about it?
CT: I think in the beginning it was the same principles art therapy is based on: the satisfaction of being able to create something and integrate it into your life. I think now I really like the challenge. I’m starting to push the bar of gravity and design. It’s a channel for a lot of perfectionistic tendencies trying to do mathematical precision by hand.
PI: When did your personal style begin to emerge?
CT: A couple years into college I started doing more patterning, and eventually moved to carving. I usually describe my style to people as double-walled vessels, but I don’t know if everyone knows what that means. I also think people don’t realize that they’re done by hand, not on a wheel. It’s creating an illusion of perfection. The eye still reads it as symmetrical.
PI: Is it as challenging as it looks?
CT: It took about a year of flawed work that got me to this place. There’s a lot of risk. The inside wants to dry so much faster and that leads to shrinking. I’ve kind of problem solved over time, and now I have a pretty good success rate. I’m surprised at how much of this show came out to my standards.
PI: What brought you here?
CT: I applied to a lot of different residencies across the country, and this was the first one that accepted me. I was apprehensive because it’s very expensive to live here. I ultimately took it because I just heard such great things about the arts community and what a good place it is to live. I’m glad I did.
PI: What’s next?
CT: I’m constantly developing form and creating more organic and dynamic patterns. I want to try black clay instead of adding stain to the same white clay. I might push the two-color thing later on, too. I’m here for a second year, then I’m hoping to start grad school next fall. I don’t know what’s after that.
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