Richard Nickel – Red Lodge Clay Center

Richard NickelNorfolk, Virginia

Red Lodge Clay Center – Short-Term Resident 2012

About Richard Nickel  Born in Rochester, NY. Richard Nickel grew up with the benefits of the creativity of the 70’s: Sid and Marty Croft, Gabe Kotter, The Children’s Television Workshop and Schoolhouse Rock. Snoopy, Cat Stevens, The Beatles. Mad Magazine. I think for this reason I am drawn to talking letters that are friendly and seem to want to help me to understand the world. Cartoons helped me understand the complex relationships between antagonists and protagonists. Bugs Bunny has many enemies, he like carrots, he gets lost when traveling. He knows we are watching him. In Junior High I was a Comic Nerd. I collected X-MEN I loved drawing! I gave up the X-Men when I found girls. Still LOVE DRAWING 1990’s Monroe Community College and Buffalo State College 2002 Grad School Finished MFA Ceramics Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.

Richard has been an active artist and educator. He has been published in several Lark books on ceramics, 500 Tiles: An Inspiring Collection of International Work Lark Books, 500 Animals In Clay, 500 Figures in Clay and 500 Bowls. His juried and invitational shows include, Tablets: text and Image in Clay Carbondale Cay Center, Colorado , Ink And Clay 34 Kellogg University Art Gallery at California Polytechnic, CA. Jurors: Darrel Couturier and Mark Greenfield, Forms & Shapes: Inspired by Architecture at Akar Gallery, Iowa City, IA , The George Ohr National Arts Challenge: Paul Soldner, The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, Biloxi, MS . He has been also awarded several Grants on research in Education and Ceramics, Faculty Innovator Grant, ODU Summer Research Fellowship.

It Only Hurts When I Laugh
Comedy, Tragedy and Magic in Ceramic Art
By Richard Nickel

Comedy & Tragedy
Often art is seen as an introverted, solitary experience involving serious thought and messages.  Frequently overlooked are the examples of the lighter side of human existence – comedy.  Art, like life, is a balance between comedy and tragedy.  Shakespeare’s darkest plays were balanced with keen wit and humor.  My intent in much of my artwork is to reveal the purpose of humor in art and to show that in art comedy and tragedy are dependent on each other for a deeper understanding of the human condition.

Ceramic artists can draw from a rich history of figurative art.  Examples of humor can be found in naïve art like Indian Mimbres pottery, Carolina “face jugs”, and “outsider” folk art.  Although the art’s original intent may or may not have been humor, a contemporary perspective can often find comedic value.  More contemporary examples by artists like George Ohr, Marcel Duchamp and Robert Arneson have also influenced my work.  These artists looked at the world of contemporary art from the sidelines; never being fully accepted.  They built a reputation on thumbing their noses at “the system” and create artwork that often used absurdity to get the point across. It is only now that these outsiders have become pillars of our art schools.

Magic Dirt
I like to call clay “Magic Dirt”.  People don’t know why clay works the way it does; it is not dirt yet it has all the minerals as any dirt or soil. Dirt is so common; to find it magical is like finding air magical. Yet it is, but we forget about it.

What is not taken or returned to this earth? Everything we have and exist with is the earth in one form or another. We as humans transform this Magic Dirt to cars, cans, planes, oil etc. We are the most Magic Dirt of all. We were formed and exist from this earth and return once more. That is the true magic. How did this happen? We model our behavior over this fact.

The earth is my media. Add fire and it becomes frozen in time. Magic Dirt!