Stuart Gair – Red Lodge Clay Center

Stuart GairAthens, Ohio

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Stuart Gair received a history degree from Ohio University and completed an MFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Currently, Stuart is an Artist In Residence at Harvard University, where he is exploring a new body of work and teaching classes. Recently, Stuart was named an Emerging Artist by Ceramics Monthly magazine and Emerging Craftsman by the Ohio Craft Museum. Stuart examines a wide range of wares that have endured through time with a particular interest in how form follows function, balance, elegance, silhouette, and volume. By examining these forms, Stuart thinks about how objects are displayed and how they can occupy a space in similar ways to those historical objects that he admires. He also strives to lure in the viewer for a closer examination of each piece to examine the subtlety and variation of surface. All of the pieces that Stuart creates are fired to cone 8 in a soda kiln. Stuart recently completed a residency at the Archie Bray Foundation, moved to Colorado for a short stint, and taught at Colorado Mountain College. He currently works and resides in Athens, Ohio.

The functional vessels I make are for use and display. It is of the upmost importance that each piece has a duality of utilitarian purpose and serves as an object of beauty and intrigue when not in use. Formal considerations are a result of an in depth exploration of historical objects from Japan, China, and Korea as well as mid twentieth century Scandinavian, American, and British forms. I draw comparisons from these pieces to one another and to everyday objects that surround me. I evaluate the attributes I am drawn to and incorporate them into my work. Particular attention is given to silhouette, curve, lightness, balance, volume, proportion, substantiality, and how objects sit on a surface. It is these attributes that result in a piece that demands presence in an environment.

Display is a prominent factor in the work. Each piece is intended to live in the open for everyday enjoyment and contemplation and not to be stored in a dark place. The pots stand alone when not in use and enhance food or flowers when the two are in unison. I have an admiration for the mid century design aesthetic of purity of form, attention to detail, refined craftsmanship, and domestic room configuration. A vessel can completely change the landscape of a space when its proportions are exact, form and surface are in harmony, and has meticulous placement. The piece can be both a centerpiece to its space and also speak quietly to its viewer.

In order to create a sense of depth in the work I layer texture and color. Additionally, a firing process is used to accentuate particular areas of each piece and encourage its viewer to explore and discover. I respond to particular hues of gray, maroon, and navy that I encounter in the natural landscape, which exude a sense of calmness within me. By using these colors in subtle ways, I strive to create a similar quiet moment when interaction takes place with the vessel. The textures themselves are not only a way to create depth but also reflect my interest in particular lines in nature such as tilled rows on farmed land that meander around hills, lakes, and tree lines and accentuate the topography of the land. Similarly, how the erosion of rock highlights the path of wind and water to create countless formations and patterns that make me stop and look.

The manner in which I view the world around me and study the history of ceramics contribute to an evolving aesthetic in which I respond to my interests and environment through the pots I make. I find it deeply satisfying to live a life in which there is a reciprocal relationship between what I make and how I observe the world around me.