My work reflects a fascination with utilitarian objects. The wonder of pottery is that it has the potential to become the user’s companion each day. It is taken into the home, and into the hand of the user—a very personal space. It is considered many times, and on many levels, both consciously and subconsciously. I am compelled to make and stubbornly hold to the commitment that beautiful handmade objects impact our existence especially as our world becomes more virtual. I am aware of the influences both visually and conceptually of the Mingei craft movement and the teachings of the Bauhaus in regard to my work. My challenge is to consider the history of pottery and try to add something personal to it through my work.
I have discovered that there are physical processes, which make me feel personally connected to my work, challenge my skills and propel ideas. These processes have been mainly throwing on the wheel and then altering the forms with the addition of some hand building. This throwing and altering process sets up a marriage of the organic and geometric that is critical for me. One of Bernard Leach’s laws of pottery form is “Curves for beauty; angles for strength” (A Potter’s Book pg. 24). I strive for a marriage of these two. I want the eye to move around and in and out of forms, which is done through the arrangement of planes and edges. I pursue strong forms that utilize abstract universal symbolism, having plural meanings that relate to landscape and architecture. My approach to surface and color are painterly and explore the power of juxtaposition of color and texture. Experimentation and improvisation continue to be important to me as I am repeatedly asking myself “What if?” working through each form. I sense a balance between the rational and spontaneous during the making process.
Some of my work reflects an interest in groupings of similar forms and forms that celebrate ritual. It is important to question “What is ritual?” in our ever changing modern society. Ritual can be occasional or daily. It can relate to nourishment, food presentation and also remind us of times when families and friends gather for special events. The point is that we see throughout history, ritual objects are set apart. I feel that my process is a thoughtful conversation about how an object is set apart and how it has the power to create an atmosphere of its own. I want the work to have an intimate presence and invite the viewer to pick up the pieces through use, which is part of the tactile experience associated with the appreciation of ceramic art pottery.
I greatly admire the “wholeness” in the work of Lucie Rie. What I mean by this is that her work radiates strength and elegance. Her bowl forms are simple and powerful; and her use of line and color encompasses both the inside and outside. When we push the limits of what we know and what we can do, pitfalls are inevitable. The true artist daily faces these opposing forces of the known/safe and the unknown. Even though Rie must have suffered what were perceived failures along the way, she successfully tied it all together in her own poetic way. I keep this in mind as I try to do the same thing.
-- Veronica Watkins
Veronica Watkins grew up in the Kansas City Missouri area. She received a BFA from Northwest Missouri State University in 1996; she went on to receive an MFA from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 2000. She resides on a farm in Maryville Missouri where she takes care of her family, maintains a studio practice and teaches in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts. She has been teaching at Northwest Missouri State University since 2002. Her work has been exhibited regionally, nationally and internationally.