I'm excited to introduce this new weekly feature! I am going to be visiting the studios of my artist friends and sharing them with you. I personally love getting a peek into other artists' studios, so I think this is going to be fun. Yesterday I met up with my friend Carolyn Baginski, who is a ceramicist in my MFA program. I had been to her studio dozens of times, but taking the time to photograph everything and interview her revealed things I had not noticed before. Let me share what I learned with you.
(Fun fact: I typed the interview questions out on notebook paper with my new typewriter!) Meet Carolyn! She was raised in Ohio, and holds a BFA in ceramics and art history from Ohio University. She then interned at the Women's Studio Workshop in New York, and had residencies at Watershed in Maine and Red Lodge in Montana. Now she resides in Columbus where she is working on her MFA in ceramics at the Ohio State University.
In Carolyn's work you will notice recurring themes of pattern, animals, and florals. She says that she gets inspired by traveling and seeing new places, especially when those trips mean time spent in the country. She pays special attention to comparing what she thinks the experience will be like beforehand to how it actually feels, and incorporates those ideas into her work.
Before her residency at Red Lodge, she included animals in her work like chipmunks and deer, which she thought of as the universal, generic animals to insert in an idyllic, fairytale-like scene. However, upon spending time outdoors in Montana, she realized that the animals she used were specific to the environment she grew up in. As a result, she says she hopes that her work makes people more observant in their environments, and helps them notice a designation of certain environments. She gives examples like a true wilderness area versus a national park versus your front yard. She says being in your front yard is "just like being inside...you planned the whole thing!" This is where her use of pattern comes in. By using patterns like florals, she makes a play on inside versus outside, planned out versus naturally occurring.
When asked what materials she likes to use besides those typically found in a ceramics studio, Carolyn replied, "Well, I like to screen print. I like to use ribbons, lace, and glitter. Model train grass, flocking...house paint, epoxy!" Upon asking for a description of flocking, she fetched some from a tall shelf to show me. Tiny pieces of fluffy, polyester fibers, flocking is applied like glitter, she explained. She motioned over to a piece of her latest project, Bunny Island, and said she was thinking of adding some flocking to it to resemble grass.
I then asked her to describe the most bizarre thing she had ever made, which she decided was a toss up between the recently completed Bunny Island, an imaginative fifteen foot long wall installation comprised of floating pieces of land covered in flowers and rabbits, and a closet installation complete with birds and a cuckoo clock, made during her time in New York. She said Bunny Island is meant to come across as dystopic, "like Jurassic Park."
I asked Carolyn what she felt was the most rewarding part of being an artist. She said, "The best part is that I get to do what I want, every single day, all day." I followed that up by asking what the most difficult part of being an artist is. She said, "Having confidence in your ideas. Knowing when to say, 'Yeah, I should make that!' Also, you don't have anyone telling you what to do." I have to agree, being your own boss is simultaneously the best yet most challenging part of creative work.
I also have to mention Carolyn's awesome apron collection, which is both fashionable and practical for someone who works with clay all day. She described this particular one as the "Rastafarian grandmother apron."
We concluded the interview with a sweet treat from Buckeye Donuts.