In the next installment of the Meet the Maker series, we meet Honesdale artist Matt Povse.
Q: What kind of art do you create?
A: “I work with clay making functional works with a sculptural edge with a regard to good 3–D design and interest- ing surface. I’ve been work- ing in clay for over 50 years. I have recently been focusing on utilitarian ware that can be used for eating and serving: bowls, cups, pitchers, bottles. Recently I’ve been exploring ramen bowls for a friend, as well as pasta and soup bowls.
“All the pieces are one of a kind using stoneware clay that I fire in my gas kiln.”
Q: Why do you do what you do?
A: “I throw and sculpt pots because I enjoy work- ing with my hands and welcome the challenge of finding various ways of solving visual problems.”
Q: How do you work?
A: “Because of the nature of clay, I make myself available for the different steps of the process daily. It’s a relationship that requires constant vigilance from beginning to the final glaze firing.”
Q: What’s your background?
A: I studied art in under- graduate and graduate school, worked in the ceramics industry, and then taught art/ceramics, both graduate and undergraduate levels, at an area university until my retirement 2-1⁄2 years ago.
“My art background includes clay, sculpture, and wood and I’ve pretty much kept going with all those areas.”
Q: How has your practice changed over time?
A: If anything, I have learned to recognize the pure essence of form and utility.
I have shed the notion that every piece must be placed on a pedestal in a museum.
“I am very happy to make good pots that people like and use, often times on a daily basis such as a salad bowl. In the past I integrated mediums but now, for the most part, I am sticking to clay and letting the object solely speak. I am very happy to be a craftsman.”
Q: What work do you most enjoy doing?
A: Throwing a pot on the (potters) wheel. I especially enjoy throwing large bowls that later I brush liquid clay into while turn- ing on the wheel. This gives an organic surface effect that speaks to Nature.
“Often times I inscribe into the bottom of the bowl, or piece, to commemorate or document an event that was happening as I was making it — as simple as hearing the first spring peeper or New Year’s Eve, a birth, etc.— and each becomes a entry in an ongoing visual “diary.” It adds a layer to the finished object that is always a pleasant reminder when it’s turned over.
“I also enjoy opening the glaze kiln — it’s a surprise one way or the other. Sometimes it’s a gift but I may not be able to recognize that at first.”
Q: What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
A: “Primarily administration in the arts — at a crafts center and university. Working and teaching in the art field, and personally work- ing in clay, wood, and con- crete have always been at the core of my careers and life.
“I was a director, department chair for many, many years, studio coordinator, and dean.”
Q: Name something you love, and why.
A: “The Ocean — the most complete and powerful living organism. We try to go to the coast as often as possible. I grew up on Lake Erie, which is vast, but the ocean has so much vitality and energy — it gives and takes, pulls and yields. And then there are treasures to be found, shaped by time, rhythms, and movements.
“I’m especially fond of the Maine coast, Cape Cod, and Cape May.”
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
A: “An article I read in Ceramics Monthly a very long time ago, and that I always passed on to my students: Live a well-crafted life; what- ever you do throughout the day, whether in your studio, kitchen, your yard, make it worth your effort and well- crafted.”
Q: Where can patrons view your work?
A: “At my home studio, 5 miles south of the town of Honesdale off 191.”
Are you an artist that would like to be featured? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.