bowl w. transmission I; 2o11

i apologise for the drought in pots on this here pottery blog.  the Peanuts and the music are amusing – but, i hope, most of you folks pop by to see what i’ve been making.  i still have a range of decent recent – end of summer -chalkboard pots to post one by one – but This is what’s happening in the studio these days.

as my thesis show approaches – the challenge of making a presentation or exhibition of my work inside an art context, inside a traditional white cube – and my questions and goals inside of this excercise have begun to come into focus.

more than anything – i wish to communicate the dynamism of studio pots thruout their lifetime.  this moment they hold inside a gallery as a tiny snapshot in the expanse of their lifetime.  these pots existence inside my studio space – thru the gallery – and into the lives and homes and hands of others is a concept that i am working towards capturing in my presentation philosophy: the transitive nature of the functional pot.

and but so, using still life tradition to communicate motion – the following are snapshots of casual setups that are happening inside the studio gallery.

(w. special guests):

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i’d love to here yer thoughts…

 —Post Update—

9.8.2o11 – -lifted from a recent communication:

– the missing link is touch. one cannot begin to understand, appreciate (even see) a cup – before it is brought to ones lips.
this intimacy completes the object – and that’s why pots don’t, can’t and should not work inside a white cube.


13 Responses to “…still…life…”

  1. 1 Carter Gillies September 3, 2011 at 8:18 am

    Hey Steven,

    I’ve been thinking about this issue as well. I like your statement: “the transitive nature of the functional pot”. And it is probably true that a large part of why functional potmakers are looked down on in the fine arts is that we are intending something besides objects of pure contemplation, “intransitive objects”. So what you are doing here is quite ambitious in the context of academia. But this really is the grounds on which pottery needs to be defended. Not just the potential for this “dynamism” but the virtue of BEING dynamic objects.

    Do you remember that old Jack Troy article in the back of Ceramics Monthly years ago? The one in which he gamely challenged us to reconcile pottery as a ‘still life’ versus something you can serve your yogurt in? Here’s the link on the internet:


    I recently found an interesting article in an old Studio Potter magazine from 1985 where the author investigates how art came to have such disdain for function. The article is by Nicholas Wolterstorff, but the whole edition is fascinating and worth a read.

    Another interesting tangent just popped up in Richard Jacob’s blog. He’s the collector who wrote those beautiful and informative letters to Christa Assad that were later turned into a book. The topic of his most recent post asks the question of whether potters actually care who ends up with their pots. So its a question about whether we make these objects with specific intentions in mind. As a collector he is interested in showing that what he does in providing a home for over a thousand pieces of pottery is an important fulfillment of these objects lives. The question remains, is it enough for them to be lovingly dusted and looked at, or do functional pots need to have a role in serving and eating food to fulfill their destiny? Here is the link to his post:


    I have my own thoughts on this, and I am organizing them into a post for my blog, but I’d love to hear your further thoughts on this issue.

  2. 2 Anonymous September 3, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Pots are looking great! That is the most important part…the thesis idea is interesting and definitely presents a real challenge. Let me know if you want to chat about it over a beer over the phone some evening. I would be interested in the dialogue.

  3. 3 Anonymous September 3, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Re: Pots are looking great!
    Hey Steven, That anonymous comment was from Trevor Dunn. Thought that it was going to be tied to my facebook account. Keep up the good work!

  4. 4 Steven September 3, 2011 at 8:52 am

    muchos gracias ‘anonymous’ – i’d love to chat –
    i guess you call me?
    or i’ll need to know who you are…
    thanks for the kind words.

  5. 5 Steven September 3, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Mr. Dunn, i presume
    yes – let’s do a phone beer – it’ll be good to catch up!

  6. 6 Steven September 3, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Carter –
    i’m with you.
    thanks for the attention.
    let’s dialog.

  7. 7 Birdie Boone September 3, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Your ideas about the ‘transitive’ nature of the pot are fantastic. Although, at heart, we simply love to make pots, I think that as intelligent degree seeking beings, we are also accountable for ‘gettin’ pottery’s back’.

    I also struggled with creating a context for my work as a thesis candidate: as I could not come to terms with the fact that my work would be ‘categorized’ by the constructs of art criticism as ‘craft’, or that I’d had to choose whether I made sculptural or functional work, I realized that there was a dual nature (‘duality’ being one of those big thesis words) to my work and so it was something more than the pots themselves. That, however, was always my intention: to take pots into the realm of the conceptual. My work is and has always been conceptual and I specifically chose the pot, with all of it’s implied and actual purpose, to be the vessel, so to speak, by which I would express myself.

    I don’t think I’ve seen such a meaningful touch/vision in someone’s pots in a while…I can feel it in the images and I want to live with them. I sense camaraderie here…

  8. 8 Steven September 3, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Birdie –



  9. 9 Anonymous September 6, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Steven, hi,

    I like the way you are playing with composition and making 3-D paintings. I think the fact that the pots are darn good pots and maintain your sense of form and painterly surface is very important-in other words, you are not losing touch with the clay in the midst of swirling atmospheric concepts.

    I think it is a beautiful way to address issues like why we make pots; what does it take to make a “good” pot…and what is the secret and/or intended life of pots? Your “still lives” are narratives (to use a current, highly operative buzz word). The pots tell a story because of their context..They are the central characters in the story.

    Just my random thoughts on an unusually (welcome) rainy day in Colorado.

  10. 10 Anonymous September 6, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Urban Oribe

  11. 11 Steven September 8, 2011 at 1:07 am

    i love you, Diane.

    thanks you for your words…

    water – huh.?.

  12. 12 Anonymous December 20, 2011 at 8:43 am

    like ur ideas !

  1. 1 Steven Colby and the transitive nature of the functional pot | CARTER GILLIES POTTERY Trackback on September 3, 2011 at 8:38 am

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Detail from Pitcher - 9.o9

lunch plate ; circa 2oo9

September 2011
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