A show of practical pottery in Carbondale | PostIndependent.com

A show of practical pottery in Carbondale

Stina Sieg
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE, Colorado ” Lorna Meaden didn’t want to sound corny about this. Still, as a ceramist, she feels she makes magic.

“There’s a real alchemy to it in the firing process,” she said, of clay. “It’s making something from nothing.”

And Meaden’s certainly hooked. At 36, she’s been throwing functional pots half her life. She’s received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Fort Lewis College and got a master’s at Ohio University. She’s been an artist-in-residence at Anderson Ranch Arts Center and taken art-centered trips to Nepal and Jamaica. Currently, she teaches one class at San Juan College in Farmingon, N.M. and spends much of the rest of her time madly creating at her Durango studio.

Starting tonight, her exhibit, “Pots from the Spring,” shows off just how prolific Meaden can be. She made every piece in it during the month of May.

“I think the immediacy of it draws me,” she said, talking about her medium. “It’s definitely not like anything else on the planet.”

Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, she came from a family of artists who were eager to lend their support to her. It’s a good thing, too, because after first getting behind a pottery wheel at 16 or 17, she was instantly drawn in.

“I think I just loved it so much, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” she said.

After almost 20 years, her pieces are fairly unmistakable. Done all in porcelain, their glazes have this dripping, fluid, vivid look. The vessels are thrown, but later manipulated, with spouts, handles and other “bells and whistles” (as she put it) added. Though some are more ornate than others, each pot and cup and bowl is usable, not meant to just sit on a shelf. Perhaps most striking, everything is imbedded with red or black clay, leaving strong lines that break up the space. Between those are all shades of color and all kinds of drawn decorations.

“I definitely think the type of work I make is fine art,” she said.

She didn’t want to go technical, using ceramic terms or art slang. To her, what matters about her work, about all ceramics, is how useful and complete it is. Does the vase hold water? Does the teapot pour well? Are the pieces beautiful to look at?

“Whether it’s my sense of aesthetics or not, work that I appreciate is when the artist considers every single part,” she said.

That’s why, with her stuff, don’t expect any naked, unfinished spots. She even decorates the bottom on her pots.

She didn’t have any highfalutin answer as to what she wants people to feel about her work. She gets so close to her pieces that it was even hard for her to say how they speak to her. But she could voice what it means to be an artist.

“There is something about spending time in a studio instead of in an office or in front of a computer that’s really satisfying,” she said.

She joked about art being a “binge and purge lifestyle,” with long periods of work-induced solitude, broken up with necessary social ventures and trips out of the studio. More than just making work, she’s in charge of the business end of it (the photographing, the marketing, the selling). She’s the one dealing with the scientific aspects of clay, as well, from accidental air bubbles to kiln mishaps. But, for her, that’s all part of the big picture, the joy of being able to create something totally new, every day.

As Meaden explained ceramics, “You can spend an entire lifetime and definitely not learn all is there is to learn about it.”

She sounded fully content with that.

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