Our third artist spotlight takes the series to a 3-D level. We’re interviewing my friend and master potter, Patrick Rademaker. Each of Patrick’s pieces reflects his process. He formulates his own clay and even builds his own kilns to wood-fire each vessel. I would describe his aesthetic as organic with an earth-toned color palette, yet full of energy and movement.
Let’s get to the fun part- chatting with the artist! Patrick and I met years ago in high school participating in one of our favorite hobbies, skiing. Every weekend we gathered at a tiny, local ski resort. It took awhile before my friends and I realized Patrick was actually an amazing artist. The first time I viewed his work I was super impressed; Patrick is one of those artists that continually grows and improves his craft, but at the same time, knows exactly who he is and his own aesthetic.
S: Patrick, when did your love for pottery and ceramics begin? How has your work evolved throughout the years?
P: I was never very artistic growing up and I actually found ceramics completely by accident in high school. I needed to take a 3-D art class to graduate and ceramics is the only one that fit my schedule. At the same time I was also taking a science fair class. With no idea what to do my project on and the annual science fair deadline looming, I decided to do experiments with clay. By some stroke of luck, I ended up winning my division in the Kentucky Science Fair and the award came with a full tuition scholarship to the University of Louisville. Since I was totally lost on where I wanted to go to school and what I wanted to study, I decided this was a sign that I should continue with ceramics. Although my work has evolved a great deal technically over the past seven years, I still see the same initial ideas rooted in function and simplicity.
S: I know one of your intentions is to create a connection with your viewers. What is your ideal interpretation a viewer can formulate in regards to one of your pieces?
P: I think one of the great things about art, both 2-D and 3-D, is that everyone forms their own individual reactions to work. For instance, what I see as a cup someone else may see as a vase. That being said, my ideal response to the pots is that they be used in day to day life.
S: What is your favorite part of the process?
P: This is always a really hard one for me. One of best parts of making pots is the cyclical pattern of making, firing, and cleaning work so that I am never stuck only doing one thing for an extensive period of time. If I had to pick just one, I would say my favorite aspect of the process is firing the kiln.
S: How would you describe your style?
P: In a lot of ways I feel like I am still finding my style. I know what I want in my work but I am not sure if I have found the best way of executing it within the forms and surfaces. The three most important aspects I try to bring across in my work are simplicity, function, and good craftsmanship. My goal is that these aspects come across individually as well as in a successful unison.
S: I know you’ve recently made a move to Florida, thanks to your aspiring career. That’s fantastic! Could you tell us more about what you do on a daily basis or any goals you might have for the future? Upcoming events?
P: It’s so hot down here and I think my skiing career might be taking a break! I have been down in Florida at the Morean Center for Clay for about two months now and I feel like I am finally settling into a good routine. The Center provides a world class studio/opportunity for working ceramicists to develop their skills and ideas. I had known for a few years that I wanted to take advantage of a residency opportunity so I spent a lot of time back home saving money for my eventual move. Because of that, I am able to dedicate all of my time to working in the studio rather than splitting it with an outside job. Residents have 24/7 access to the studio so I try to spend 7-10 hours each day working on pots. With the added free time I would also like to do a better job of applying to national shows, writing articles, photographing work, and researching firing techniques. At some point I may even make it to the beach!
S: Where do you seek inspiration? Do you have any favorite 3-D artists?
P: I think the strongest inspiration in my work comes from nature and one of my favorite things to draw inspiration from is rusty train cars. The simple yet elegant marks left by decades of weathering always capture my eye. I also really enjoy looking at how freshly fallen snow drapes objects. The way it can soften objects is a quality I seek in my work. Some of my favorite ceramic artists are Mark Hewitt, Logan Wannamaker, and Brian Somerville. Outside of ceramics I really enjoy looking at graffiti, tile work, and cast concrete.
Wouldn’t these pieces be perfect for styling a built in or displaying on a mantle? Maybe even as a centerpiece? I love the variation in each object. Not going to lie, we love drinking from our Rademaker coffee mugs each morning. They’re the perfect fall color palette. Thank you, Patrick!