Ben Carter – Red Lodge Clay Center

Ben CarterHowell Township, New Jersey

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Ben Carter is a studio potter, workshop leader, and social media enthusiast based in Santa Cruz, CA. He received his BFA in ceramics/painting from Appalachian State University and his MFA in ceramics from the University of Florida. His professional experience includes being an artist-in-residence at the Odyssey Center for Ceramic Art in Asheville, NC, as well as Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass, CO, the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, MT, and the Ceramic Research Center Guldagergaard in Skelskor, Denmark. From 2010-2012 he served as the Education Director of the Pottery Workshop in Shanghai, China. He has lectured and presented workshops at universities and craft centers in the United States, Canada, China, Australia, and New Zealand. He has exhibited internationally in numerous invitational and juried shows, and was recently named 2016 Ceramic Artist of the Year by Ceramics Monthly and Pottery Making Illustrated.

In addition to his studio work he is the creator/host of the “Tales of A Red Clay Rambler” blog and podcast, where he interviews artists about their craft, creativity, and lifestyle. He is also the author of articles featured in such publications as Ceramics Monthly and Pottery Making Illustrated as well as a full-length book, Mastering the Potter’s Wheel, which will be published by Voyageur Press in 2016.

After extensive travel in Asia and Europe my research has shifted towards establishing an aesthetic representative of my Appalachain cultural heritage. Earthenware clay is stretched into functional forms that have convex bulges to reference pillows and tufted furniture. This overfilled aesthetic is a visual metaphor for the casual graciousness of southern hospitality.

Decorative motifs like the white picket fence, a quintessential symbol of the domestic, establish a cultural context that draws from Americana. The accompanying floral patterns of Dogwood and Honeysuckle are power symbols representing growth and prosperity. These native Virginian flowers are drawn in a sgraffito style relating to the informal nature of Appalachian folk art. Verdant flowers captured in decorative form bring nature into the home satisfying a primal need to connect with our surrounding landscape.

My intent is to evoke community by providing functional pottery for small gatherings. As ceramics are employed in the service of communal eating a relaxed environment is created. This allows the participants to enjoy a form of intimacy that is often lacking in our business-oriented society. These personal times are a counterpoint to our career driven culture. The pots commemorate a bygone era when meals were at the core of communication. Well-crafted dinnerware calls the user back to the table where the heart of community beats.