Forrest Gard

Artist Statement

“At some point as we get older, we are made to feel guilty for playing. We are told that it is unproductive, a waste of time, even sinful. The play that remains is, like league sports, mostly very organized, rigid, and competitive. We strive to always be productive, and if an activity doesn’t teach us a skill, make us money, or get on the boss’s good side, then we feel we should not be doing it. Sometimes the sheer demands of daily living seem to rob us of the ability to play.”

-Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute of Play

Legally, I have been an adult for almost a decade. During that time I have experienced (more than once) the feeling of having too many tasks and not enough hours in the day to accomplish them. When this happens, a switch inside of me is flipped and I am unable to have fun; I stop playing and I usually become depressed. As Brown asserts, our culture actually makes us feel guilty for the times we are not being productive. As children we are encouraged to play, our parents arrange play dates, and we develop physically and emotionally through play. I am interested in the carry over from child’s play to adult play and am curious why some adults stop playing while others continue. My interactive installations aim at providing gallery visitors (the majority of which are grownups) the feeling of being able to play. This shift in the traditional gallery experience allows the viewer to interact with a ceramic object in a new way. My work allows people an opportunity to briefly escape their grown-up realities; a feeling that is often foreign to many adults in today’s overly competitive culture.


Forrest Gard first discovered clay in high school. He went on to earn his BFA in Ceramics from Ohio University in the fall of 2009. A couple months after graduation, Forrest traveled to Montana, where he spent two months working in the mountains and avoiding bears as a short-term artist- in-residence at Red Lodge Clay Center. After experiencing snow in May and completing a successful residency, Forrest filled his tiny red Honda with a few tools, clothes, and a pillow, and moved down to the sunshine state, where he studied ceramics at the University of Florida as a post baccalaureate student. At Florida, Forrest met his soulmate (now wife), Jeni Hansen Gard. Forrest joined Jeni’s volleyball team and completed a backflip among other things to try get her attention—and luckily his efforts paid off! After Florida, Forrest moved for a second time in his tiny car with almost no possessions to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for graduate school, catfish po’boys, and college football. Forrest completed his MFA in 2014. After graduating, Forrest accepted a position as the assistant editor for Ceramics Monthly and Pottery Making Illustrated and moved for a third time in five years (this time in a slightly larger Honda and with more stuff) to Columbus, Ohio, in June of 2014.

On Forrest’s 19th year and 364th day of life, his little brother, Noah was born. Noah helped Forrest remember a very simple and important part of life; how to play without a care in the world. Forrest’s artwork was instantly impacted by Noah and he started to question the carryover from child’s play to adult play through his interactive installations. Currently Forrest’s workspace is in a small corner of Jeni’s studio at The Ohio State University. Outside of the office and the studio, Forrest enjoys the forest, hiking, camping, gardening, cooking and preserving food, skateboarding, traveling, and his family (including his two cats; Beast and Michelangelo).