Bob ShayLexington, Kentucky

Red Lodge Clay Center – Short-Term Resident 2010, 2013, (AIA) 2015, 2017, (AIA) 2017, (AIA) 2024

Having been in administration for a long time, my studio career has mostly gone to hell. Recently however, I’ve been making a concerted albeit sporadic effort to revive it and my newest work represents the beginning of that commitment.

I’ve always been a materials freak. My work is conceptually pretty simple and almost deliberately seeks to avoid any reference to contemporary issues. If there are any references at all, they are fairly pedestrian and limit themselves to functional pottery, everyday objects, landscape and geologic processes. I work in clay and y glaze because I believe they are incredibly rich materials that require a great degree of sophistication to manipulate with any degree of virtuosity. Clay isn’t for everyone.

There’s an analogy I think about which compares working with clay to riding a horse. It has to do with ego, imposition and sensitivity. To get it right, you have to find the right balance. If you’re trying to do something tricky on a horse, you had better find a way to communicate with the horse using its own language. You had better fins a way to ask the horse rather than tell it. If you’re trying to do something tricky with clay, you had better listen to it and find a way to hear what its telling you that day. Finding that elusive balance between imposing your will on an intelligent horse or on a lump of clay (which contains living micro organisms) and being sensitive to what they are willing to give you will usually land you in rarified air and result in something which could be transformational.