Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Maureen Mills Interview


This month's profile features Maureen Mills, the 2004 recipient of the Piscataqua Region Artist Advancement Grant.  Coincidentally,  I hosted an AAG 'round-up' dinner (with 6 of the 10 former recipients at the table) for what I hope will be an annual event.  In a casual conversation with Maureen, Omaha (of all things) came up.  When Maureen responded "They have good clay there!" it gave me all the insight I needed about what Maureen's priorities are.        



How would you describe your work?

Functional and decorative stoneware combining complex surface treatments with a variety of firing techniques to achieve both visual and actual depth to the surface. My recent work explores the use of text both as compositional element and journal or story telling.

What was your grant proposal?

When I submitted my grant application, I had just finished my very first wood firing. I was very pleased with the results and in love with the process. So my focus was on exploring this firing process more and developing a body of work that worked with the kiln I was firing in.



Did you stick with your grant proposal or did you make adjustments to your plan?

I did stick to my grant proposal with one addition to it. I had also begun doing flamework glass and I was invited by Kristina Logan to accompany her to France to assist her in a two week workshop she was teaching there. So I took advantage of the opportunity. The experience with a group of international students in that community setting as well as the opportunity to improve my skills on the torch was priceless. I used some of the grant money to invest in a few pieces of equipment so I could continue working with glass. Last fall I made a series of small bottle shaped beads which I gave as gifts to people I met on a recent trip to Japan.

What kind of impact did receiving the AAG have on you and your work?

I really was at a transition place in my work, changing materials and firing techniques. The opportunity to explore new forms and techniques was really invaluable. And as a woman and a clay artist, I never really thought my work would be recognized in this way. It means a lot to the community of clay artists, and to women as well, for my work to have been honored in this way.



How has your work developed in the years since receiving the AAG?

I have continued to fire in wood burning kilns and am focusing now on expanding to some larger scale pieces to take advantage of what the kilns have to offer and also to challenge my own skill in creating and composing forms.

Do you continue to apply for other grants and have you received any?

I have continued to apply for grants but have not received any yet! I have one pending even as I write this. But writing in this manner is an important process for developing ideas and clarifying goals. It helps me focus on the direction I want and need to go, so I always recognize the benefit of the exercise in writing in this manner.



What are you working on now? 

Last fall I went to Japan for an international ceramics symposium. I saw incredible ceramic work, fabric, exhibitions, museums and met amazing people. Processing this into my love of surface treatment is taking several directions. Beginning with more traditional overglaze enamel experimentation, where bright paint-like pigments are brushed onto a glazed surface and refired to add another layer of pattern to the surface, to incorporating ancient sutra texts onto container forms both as metaphor and design element, I am working toward larger scale forms for a wood firing that will take place in May.

Do you have any exhibits coming up?

At the end of August, opening August 25th, I am having a show in the Dockside Gallery at the George Marshall Store Gallery in York Maine. I just unloaded a kiln today (March 10) and I am quite certain there are two or three pieces that will set aside for that exhibition.


News Flash!!!  
Just after interviewing Maureen, she email me with some great news.  Maureen just found out that she is one of this years NH Council on the Arts Visual Arts Fellows!  Congratulations Maureen! 

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