My work is inspired by the sky and the mountains, the traditional pottery makers of the American Southwest, and the basket makers of my own Mi’kmaq people of New Brunswick Canada. My heritage is mixed – half Polish and half Mi’kmaq (Micmac) Indian of the Eel Ground First Nation of New Brunswick, Canada. I am originally from Hartford, Connecticut and now live in Rochester, NY.
My trivets and baskets, for example, incorporate both the traditional and contemporary because the Mi’kmaq were traditionally basket makers. Weaving each piece of clay is time-consuming but these are some of my favorite pieces to create.
Prior to moving to the Rochester area, I attended the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. While pursuing my JD and PhD, I had the opportunity to study and admire Pueblo pottery. In much of my pottery, my designs combine traditional shapes and forms with contemporary methods (wheel throwing and hand building).
I began making pottery in 2001 at the Flower City Arts Center (formerly Genesee Center for the Arts and Education). I’ve also taken classes at Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of American Crafts. In the summer of 2007 I took a month-long course at the NY State School of Ceramics at Alfred University. My primary focus was studying glaze calculations while interacting with over 40 artists from across the country and a number of internationally recognized faculty. My work continues to evolve and expand as I experiment with different types of clays, glazes, and glaze applications. I create many of my own glazes. I work out of “Art Hill” near Honeoye Falls, NY (just south of Rochester).
I produce two different kinds of pottery – functional ware and art pieces. All my functional pieces are handmade and unique and are food-safe as well as microwavable and oven-safe. I make a variety of smaller pieces such as mugs, bud vases, pie plates – again with glazes I developed myself. And as I prepare for the show season, I spend a lot of time re-stocking my inventory shelves because once the nice weather comes, there’s less time for the studio!
I have also started producing dinnerware sets. This is my own green glaze on brown speckled clay – brand new!
My art pieces, as I said, are inspired by the traditions of the American Southwest. In this plate, for example, I take an ancient design and put a contemporary spin on it. First I apply layers of colored slip, then using a sgraffito technique I scratch away the slip to reveal the Native design. In order to made it more contemporary, I often use a ruler, compass, and/or a protractor to sharpen the edges of the design. After the piece dries, I finish it by applying a clear glaze and then I fire it .
One last thing…It is very important to me – as an artist, an attorney, and a Native American – that the general public understands the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-644). It is a truth-in-advertising law that prohibits misrepresentations in marketing of Indian arts and crafts products within the United States. It is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian, Indian Tribe, or Indian arts and crafts organization. This covers all Indian and Indian-style traditional and contemporary arts and crafts produced after 1935. Every piece I make carries my RAM mark (my initials) and those pieces that reflect my Native American heritage come with a Certificate of Authenticity with my signature.
Stop by Main Street Arts to see RAM Stoneware in our gallery shop! Visit Rick’s website at http://ramstoneware.com (new website in progress) and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by jewelry artist Brittany Rea.