Brett designs and constructs fragmented parts into ceramic vessels.
year of birth: 1983
birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
current residence: Minneapolis, Minnesota
started in… 1997?
Where did it all begin?
Ceramics unexpectedly appeared on my class schedule in high school. I’ve been working with clay ever since. In my early twenties I was working in a kind of folk pottery tradition and firing a lot of atmospheric kilns. As I got older, I wanted to connect my work with an aesthetic that was more urban and reflective of my environment. Music has always been important to me and influential.
What is the worst advice you’ve heard?
After undergrad I was told to buy land and start making pottery. A nice idea and romantic at that but I would have never explored different ideas in my work as much as I have.
Most beautiful moment during the creative process?
I can’t think of one single moment. I think about all the late nights I’ve spent in the studio and recognize my addiction to surprising myself. Exploring an unknown and then seeing ideas in your head become a reality makes me feel a little high.
What doesn’t inspire you?
I have a real distaste for when people try to solve all their artistic problems with “a good business strategy”. I know art and business are not separate from one another but it’s a buzz kill talking about it in that way. If making work isn’t your favorite thing to do during the week, no amount of business practice will save you.
What are you proud of?
I’m proud of the work I’ve put into ceramics. It’s not something I appreciated while it was happening but when I look back on the last two decades I think, “wow, that’s what I chose to do.”
Who would you like to meet or who would you like to work with?
I’ve had fantasies about working in the kitchen of a ramen or pho restaurant. I don’t want to be a pro or anything, it just looks interesting to me.
It’s funny but I don’t know if I love clay but I understand clay. I’m passionate about making ceramic vessels and appreciate how we connect with them in our homes. Clay is annoying sometimes, we fight with each other, we neglect each other, and we’ve said horrible things to one another. I always make up with clay in the end.
What would you have done, if not this?
In the other fantasy worlds besides the one I currently live in I would have been a musician, a photographer, a graffiti artist, and any other countless things that are full of dreams. Understanding my abilities from working with clay I’m sure I could have been some kind of engineer or something in industrial design if the path to those types of careers had been less opaque when I was younger.
When was your biggest moment of doubt?
After graduate school I had a lot of doubt. You kind of get this foundation that tells you how to frame your life for artistic survival. I had to let go of those guidelines and be ok with having a career that made sense for me and how I needed to do it. The real goal is to make as much work for as long as you can.
Who is your biggest supporter?
I’ve had a lot of good teachers who were supportive. My family and the people immediately around me have always been understanding. I’ve encountered lots of positive people in my life surrounding ceramics. It’s always been women in the ceramics field that have given me a chance and showed me a path to working with clay on the next level.
I like taking images of my work on film the most. Whether it’s an image of my cat or documentation of pieces on funky film stock, it makes me the happiest. The internet could care less but it’s something I do for me.
What is to you, the most beautiful sentence?
“So it wasn’t even a monotonous task, because the effort of thinking which accompanied it spread towards countless types of thoughts which spread, each one, towards countless types of actions that might each serve to make countless things, and making each of these things was implicit in making the shell grow, turn after turn…”
From The Spiral, The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino.
Where do you work?
I make all my work at home and I fire everything at Northern Clay Center. I teach an intro to handbuidling class one night a week and that allows me access to the kilns. On my list of priorities, I’d still like to achieve having my own kiln.
Want to see more of Brett’s work?