Tag Archives: Ceramic Artist

Meet the Artist in Residence: Betsy Foster

Betsy Foster, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the months of February and March 2020, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Betsy some questions about her work and studio practice:

Betsy Foster studio picture

artist in her studio

Q: Tell us about your background.
I’m from Henrietta, New York (about 35 minutes west of Clifton Springs).  I’ve been making artwork for around 15 years now!

In 2011 I graduated with my BFA from Alfred University, and in 2019 I graduated with my MFA from The Ohio State University. My concentration for both fine art degrees was ceramics.

I just moved back to the western New York area this past summer when I finished my Master’s. In addition to my studio practice I teach as an adjunct instructor at SUNY Fredonia.

Q: How would you describe your work?
My practice revolves around the manipulation of ceramic material and carrying out repetitive actions to accumulate multiples. I am drawn to the tactility of clay, of leaving marks in the surface whether they be my fingerprints or that of a tool. The surfaces of my ceramic sculptures and paintings are usually abstracted patterns like grids, lattices, or polka dots stretched or overlapped. I change these patterns on the surfaces to create something different each time.


Pinnacle Pair, 2019. ceramic, 5 feet x 4 feet x 2 .5 feet.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
Nearly every ceramic form I build starts out as a series of sketches done in my studio, a sort of planning process. Two-dimensional sketches become three-dimensional form. I sketch the piece again after it is completed, continuing that cycle of sketching and building, each time abstracting and changing the form, pushing against its specificity. My sketches originate from fuzzy thoughts, or flashes of memories steeped in nostalgia. I’m tapping into these feelings as I explore how my paintings, sketches, and ceramic forms can exist together.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
For my time in the residency, I want to explore the relationship between my paintings and ceramic forms. Having gone the better part of this year without a kiln, I’ve been creating paintings with freeform abstract swatches of color. My work from early 2019 and late 2018 dealt with purposefully distorting patterns across a surface, but with access to a kiln once again I am interested to see how my time working solely in paint has influenced how I glaze ceramic forms. My plan is to create ceramic pieces that have painting counterparts. Being back where I was born and raised in Rochester, NY for the first time in many years has everything steeped in nostalgia. I plan on tapping into these feelings as I explore how my paintings and ceramic forms can exist together, merging surface textures and colors, as sources obscure and abstract in the back-and-forth of two-dimensional paintings/sketches to three-dimensional ceramic forms.


September Display Case, 2019. ceramic sculptures and paintings installed in a hallway case. roughly 10 feet x 3 feet

 Q: Do you collect artwork?
Besides work from a variety of mediums from friends of mine, I have a collection of ceramic cups, mugs, and plates. As someone in the ceramic community who used to solely create pottery, I have a huge appreciation for handmade cups, mugs, plates, etc. With a few exceptions, I only use handmade ceramic to eat off of! I have gotten most of it from The Clay Studio’s gallery, they are located in Philadelphia (but you can also order online!) NCECA, the annual ceramic conference, is also a place I’ve picked up a few of my favorite pieces. For me, there is a sensitivity, a contemplation, and an awareness present while using handmade objects every day.

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
I want to say my hands, but I think that’s too cliché. I’m going to say a banding wheel. When building ceramic pieces, I need to be on all sides of it and being able to spin the piece around on something has probably saved my body from aches and pains! Alternatively, for bigger work a dolly from the hardware store (so I can put a large wooden board on wheels to move around) has definitely been a life saver!


That Pink Painting, 2019. Acrylic paint on canvas, 3 feet x 3 feet.

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork?
I would say anywhere that I’m traveling where I haven’t been before. If I’m in a new city I usually make a quick stop at a museum or gallery. I frequently drive around for concerts, and I love to make an overnight trip so I can pop into a museum in the morning before a drive back to give me a lot to reflect on during the drive. My more recent favorite was The Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh. A second runner up response would be the museum I used to work at – The Philadelphia Museum of Art. They have such an amazingly huge collection that they rotate frequently so if you stop in, a lot of the galleries are different than that last time you were there.

Q: What’s next for you?
I’d like to get a kiln to establish my own studio here in western New York so I can continue to create ceramic pieces in my studio practice. And I’m hoping to continue teaching!

Q: Where else can we find you?
Website: betsy-foster.com
Instagram: @betsy__foster


Cylinder Composition, 2019. Ceramic, brick, acrylic paint, 6 feet x 5 feet x 1 foot.

Inside the Artist’s studio with Jill Bell

Screen Shot 2019-11-21 at 7.11.26 AM

Hi. I’m Jill Bell.  As an non-sporty kid growing up in suburban Newark, Delaware, I took my first ceramics class at age 6.  From the start I loved everything about clay. From the dusty, damp earthy smell of the studio to being able to make tangible objects from the ideas in my kid brain.  As I got older, I tried other mediums but found ceramics was how I best expressed myself and my love of clay stuck.


I received a BFA from Moore College of Art & Design and an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. Upon finishing graduate school, I lived in Maine for 9 months as a Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts winter resident. It was there, frustrated with building larger sculptural pieces with the local clay and having them crack, I decided to change things up. I was  inspired by a chowder bowl project we did with the local community and began making bowls and cups of my own.



My cups and bowls are formed pretty much the same way any kid would have been taught to do it day 1 of their first ceramics class. Roll a slab. Score and slip it and stick it together. Roll another piece. Score and slip that and stick it to the bottom. You’ve got yourself a cup.


With my sculptures I shy away from shiny. I much prefer surfaces that are textured, with a dry or matte finish. I achieve this through multi-firing a variety of under-glazes and different oxide washes. In the case of my cups and mugs, I’ll use a white glaze on the inside and a commercial clear on the outside to create a more finished look.




For almost 10 years now I have been a member of Clayworks on Columbia, an amazing group studio space located in the Carrol Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. Started by Deborah McDermott and several other ceramic artists 20 years ago (we  just celebrated our 20th anniversary), the studio consists of a collection of ceramic artists of varying ages, backgrounds, styles and experience. There is a true community spirit amongst the members and students at Clayworks and belonging to a studio space where  everyone so readily supports, inspires and respects one another has been immeasurable.

I have a full time job and a family so I’m only able to get to my studio a few times a week. When I’m there, I’m there to WORK. That said, studio time is also my podcast time. I’m not ashamed to admit that I love and listen to almost exclusively,  podcasts about the paranormal, conspiracy theories and UFOs. I know what you’re thinking, “tin foil hat?” but I was a kid of the 80’s.  I grew up with a healthy fear of Santanists, TV shows like In Search of… with Leonard Nimoy and ransacking the local library for anything I could get my hands on about witchcraft, Bigfoot and alien abductions. Today’s world feels crazier then ever. My studio time is a buffer from all that, somewhere I can go to escape. When I’m there, I like to be able to immerse myself in the things that make me happy.


Instagram: jillmarleahbell_ceramics

Jill Bell is one of 44 artists included in the 4th annual The Cup, The Mug exhibition on the second floor at Main Street Arts, a national juried exhibition of drinking vessels. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shop. The Cup, The Mug runs through December 14, 2019.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Ian Park

Ian Park working in the studio

Ian Park working in the studio

My name is Ian Park. I’m originally from the southern rural village called Hartman, Arkansas. The population is still about 600 people. From there, I began making art at a preschool age by sketching with pen in wide ruled notebooks on my grandparent’s couch and gluing popsicle sticks together to make sculptures, all while experimenting with usual childhood art supplies of marker, crayon, watercolor, and mud. Middle school is when I realized art was part of my life and I couldn’t live without it; a means of survival for a queer kid living in a completely hetero community. Near the end of high school, I had the luxury of experimenting with ceramic sculpture and firing objects in the kiln. It wasn’t until my second year of college that I realized ceramics would become a major part of my life.

Front and back of the two cups included in The Cup, The Mug 2019

Front and back of the two cups included in The Cup, The Mug 2019

It was in higher education that I pursued a career in art. There were so many wonderful instructors and people that I met in Little Rock during my time in that city and eventually I obtained a bachelor’s degree in studio art and public school art education after six years of being an undergraduate at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. I remember realizing I wanted to be a teacher when I was showing a co-worker how to make a rose out of icing at my cake decorator job. Something clicked in my brain that this would have to accompany my art making.

Installation piece by Ian Park

Installation piece by Ian Park

The first piece of art I found to be professional was made during my last year of undergrad. It was titled Visiting Grandma Agatha, and it combined my skills with cake decorating, wood working, painting, found object, ceramics, mold making, and conversations with my grandma that we had over sweets at the table. After being an intern elementary school teacher that last year of school, I realized just how much I loved teaching K-5 elementary art. Kids are awesome, and so fun to be around! I was able to juggle my art and being a public-school teacher for a couple years. I missed ceramics though, and didn’t have access to a kiln, so I applied to the Flower City Arts Center in Rochester, NY and was accepted as a resident artist there in 2016. I met some awesome folks in that region as well. From there I helped establish the very first Flower City Pottery invitational, pushed my ceramics career further, applied for grad school (and got into LSU), and finally learned just how hard the real world can be. I am forever grateful for my time there and can’t wait to go back and visit when the time comes.

"Makeup Manica" by Ian Park

“Makeup Manica” by Ian Park

I am in my third year of grad school at Louisiana State University. My work is about combining queerness with, camp, the uncanny and horror. I create functional pottery with a cone 6 clay body that uses imagery or words relating to queerness & LGBTQIA+ themes. These pots usually consist of a pre drawing on leather hard ware and different layers of underglazes, wax resist techniques, sgraffito, lusters, and decals. I also make installations that consist of wallpaper, fabric, performance video projection, found object, paint, video projection, wood, and altered objects. I adore creating installation that people can either walk through or come into close contact. With these installs, I am pushing the idea of set design and art, creating an atmosphere that sees through the veneer of a normal home in a way that celebrates the queer themes of horror I use.

Ian Park working in the studio

Ian Park working in the studio

I also love to celebrate other people’s art, and community is very important to me, especially the LGBTQIA+ community. In October of 2019, I organized a queer ceramics symposium at LSU, with the assistance of Andy Shaw. We titled it Queeramics and several queer clay artists from around the U.S. came to participate. I curated an exhibit with 25 artists from around the nation and Canada, there were two love performance art works, a panel discussion, keynote speaker, and think tank discussions with the attending queer artists. We came together to embrace each other’s thoughts, concerns, needs, creations, and lives and will all be pushing to create a stronger future for queer ceramics.

Front and back of the two cups included in The Cup, The Mug 2019

Front and back of the two cups included in The Cup, The Mug 2019

As of now, I must continue finishing my thesis. Once I graduate with my MFA, I would love to become a resident artist again at another art center in America and continue churning out installations and pottery. I love what art centers have to offer their community! Beyond that, I would like to continue teaching kids. I miss teaching children and want my students to have a future with the artistic well-rounded knowledge that I have to offer. Just like my roots in art as a child, I want others to be able to explore their many artistic options, because art opens thousands of different possibilities for a

brighter and more knowledgeable future. If you want to see more of my art you can find me at:

Website: www.ianparkart.com
Instagram: ian.park.art
Queeramics Article: Click here


Ian Park is one of 44 artists included in the 4th annual The Cup, The Mug exhibition on the second floor at Main Street Arts, a national juried exhibition of drinking vessels. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shop. The Cup, The Mug runs through December 14, 2019.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Gretchen Quinn

Gretchen in her downtown Raleigh studio. Photo credit: Juli Leonard

Gretchen in her downtown Raleigh studio. Photo credit: Juli Leonard

Hello, I am Gretchen Quinn. I’m a full-time potter living and working in Raleigh, NC. and I have two mugs in The Cup, The Mug 2019 show at Main Street Arts. I make functional pottery with a clean, modern feel. The inspiration for my work comes mainly from what I want to have and use in my own home. I’m definitely under the spell of well-made crafts and much of what I make spins out from my love of Danish Modern and Shaker designs where simplicity, utility and honesty are among the guiding principles in their work.

Finished work for sale at the studio.

Finished work for sale at the studio.

My pieces are all handmade out of a beautiful dark brown stoneware clay and glazed in glossy white. I decorate my pots with a variety of hand-carved patterns or 22K gold luster. In the decoration process I never use pre-made patterns, templates or textures. To me, it’s the freehand markings that makes my pots feel fresh and modern and what tells the user that every piece is handmade.

My favorite part of the process.

My favorite part of the process.

Six years ago, I moved from working in a community studio to a private space. In the community studio I had a wide range of clay bodies and glaze colors available, so I always felt compelled to use them all. When I became responsible for ordering my own clay and making my glaze I decided to narrow my focus to one clay body and one glazed for a year. While I initially did this for practicality, this shift in materials is really what gave birth of my current Mix & Match collection and all these years later I’m still focused on one clay and one glaze. I love how the Mix & Match aspect of my work makes customers active participants in building their collections. Some customers will choose to stay with just one pattern, others will select a few, while some just go for it all!

A recent custom dinner plate order.

A recent custom dinner plate order.

My serious study of ceramics started at Providence College, where I received a BA in sculpture and made most of my work in clay. After graduation, I worked as a graphic designer and made pots on the side. I never stepped away from clay, but I didn’t see an avenue to make it my full-time profession. It took a cross country move from Seattle to Raleigh for me to finally take the leap into clay full-time. I’m now over 6 years in and have seen a steady, organic growth in the quality of my work and in my business. In addition to my studio work I teach ceramics at the North Carolina State University Crafts Center. The combination of teaching and making work for my business has been a huge point of growth. It forced me to slow down and think through my technique and reflect on the elements that go into making a good pot.

Mix & Match lamps.

Mix & Match lamps.

My studio is a space that I share with three other female potters. We run our businesses independently and make very different work, but we are all equally committed to our love for working in clay. Being able to share our kiln firings and buy our clay together in bulk allows us to speed the making process and to save on our material expenses. It makes for an interesting dynamic as we are all from different backgrounds and generations, but together we freely share our vast clay skills and push each other forward in our work and our businesses.

At work in my studio. Photo credit: Juli Leonard

At work in my studio.
Photo credit: Juli Leonard

I am truly thrilled that I get to work with clay every day. There is just something magical about turning a humble lump of clay into a beautiful, functional product. See more of my work at www.gretchenquinn.com and follow me on Instagram @gretchen.quinn

Gretchen Quinn is one of 44 artists included in the 4th annual The Cup, The Mug exhibition on the second floor at Main Street Arts, a national juried exhibition of drinking vessels. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shop. The Cup, The Mug runs through December 14, 2019.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Cole Worden

Cole Worden in the studio

Cole Worden in the studio

Hello, my name is Cole Worden. I am a recent graduate from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where I received a BFA in studio arts, and I am currently a participant of the working artist program at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.

Cup II by Cole Worden included in The Cup, The Mug

Cup II by Cole Worden included in The Cup, The Mug

As far as my personal timeline goes, I am rather new to ceramics. I spent the majority of my youth honing my skills as a musician, which led to a short career as a drummer in an internationally touring metal band. My eyes were opened to a vastly larger world than I could have ever imagined, and became aware of how little I really knew about life. This fueled my curiosity and eventually drove me to drop everything and return to school. I spent two and a half years as a neuroscience major and struggled to adjust to the life of a student, while coming down from a three year high of adrenaline, drugs, rock and roll, and my own inflated ego. It became clear I wasn’t going to make it as a scientist. I took a ceramics class on a whim, trying to find a new path ahead, and was hooked instantly. I accidentally stumbled into a warm, accepting, and challenging community of artists, that helped me to find myself, and a way forward. I graduated in December of 2018, and have since been doing what I can to make it as a ceramic artist.

The original model for a bowl made from MDF and tape with fired bowl

The original model for a bowl made from MDF and tape with fired bowl

So, what does a day in the studio look like for me? Most of my work is slip-cast, so that means I have to go through a pretty extensive process starting from an idea and getting to a finished product. I begin by either making a form from clay, or making a form from MDF, then alter the surface (often with paint, electrical tape, or customized stickers) to get the desired texture I want. Then I take a plaster mold of the object, which I can later cast from with slip. Once I have the object in porcelain, I apply various washes, wax, and glazes to achieve the desired coloration.

Applying wash to bisquware

Applying wash to bisquware

While I am casting from the molds I have, in a more rigid production sort of process, I’m simultaneously working out how to improve on what I have, and brainstorming for the next form I want to make. Alternating between production and creation keeps my day interesting, and every step has room for creativity. So, despite the rigid replication that comes with slip casting, I like to make subtle changes all the time to make each piece unique.

Much of my time in the studio, I can be found with headphones in, which half of the time are playing metal. Growing up, one of the most influential forms of visual art for me was the album art and graphic design on cd covers and band merch. I think on a deeper level, most of my aesthetic decisions have roots in metal/rock/punk culture, whether they are immediately apparent or not. The other half is spent listening to audiobooks or podcasts, generally in the realm of science or philosophy. Learning about and pondering the nature of our reality through reason and experimentation provides for me a sort of spiritual satisfaction that no religion has been able to do.

Cole Worden pouring slip from a mold

Cole Worden pouring slip from a mold

Pouring slip from a mold

Pouring slip from a mold

These ideas permeate into my work, along with my love for architecture, and all of the media I consume, creating a chimeric brain baby that usually pops out in the form of a pot. Which begs the question, why pottery?

I’ve been asking myself this question for a while now, and for many reasons I love the process of making pottery. I find my flow through physical action. My mind and body are both engaged creatively and intellectually. But I think those personally gratifying aspects wouldn’t be worth it without being able to serve someone else. The utility of pottery is common across all walks of human life, and I am happy to provide someone with that utility. Plus, I can hint at little nuggets of ideas for someone to contemplate with their morning coffee, and that’s fun for me.

Cup 1 by Cole Worden included in The Cup, The Mug

Cup 1 by Cole Worden included in The Cup, The Mug

Thanks to Main Street Arts Gallery for giving me the opportunity to share with you a little bit about myself and my process. If you’d like to know more, or find more of my work, you can visit my:

Website: coleworden.com
Instagram: @coleworden
Etsy: Etsy.com/shop/colewordenartworks
Or contact me at: cwordenart@gmail.com

Cole Worden is one of 44 artists included in the 4th annual The Cup, The Mug exhibition on the second floor at Main Street Arts, a national juried exhibition of drinking vessels. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shop. The Cup, The Mug runs through December 14, 2019.


Inside the Artist’s Studio with Emile Bouvet-Boisclair

I am a French Canadian born ceramic artist, residing in Chicago, IL for the last decade. 

artist Emilie Bouvet-Boisclair

Artist and a board of marbled cups. Photo by: Alexis Bouvet-Boisclair

Clay entered my life when I was 13. I was gifted lessons for Christmas with studio potter Lloyd Fitzsimmons. I long considered myself a painter, eventually graduating from State University at Geneseo with a BA in Fine Arts and a concentration in figure studies and water color. Despite this, as a teen, I purchased a potters wheel with my babysitting money before graduating from high school, and in my 20s, continued to enroll at local ceramic studios from time to time. Throwing pots was a welcome release from the seriousness with which I approached my canvases.

This set depicts flora and fauna native to North America- the Cuckoo bird and Paw Paw tree- one of the few fruiting trees native to this continent.

This set depicts flora and fauna native to North America- the Cuckoo bird and Paw Paw tree- one of the few fruiting trees native to this continent.

When I began merging my painting experience with clay, pottery making took on a more serious role in my life. I approached glazing pots with the eye of an oil painter — layering techniques of line inlay, and sculpture with glazes, colored slips and stains to achieve depth and nuanced color.

Jewelry box with typical adornment of flowers and also brains. Jewelry boxes are often gifted to young girls, one of many ways we initiate their values and status in society - this serves as a reminder of the importance of intellect.

Jewelry box with typical adornment of flowers and also brains. Jewelry boxes are often gifted to young girls, one of many ways we initiate their values and status in society – this serves as a reminder of the importance of intellect.

My work addresses an appreciation of nature and a hope to conserve the environment. 

birch wood inspired vases by Emilie Bouvet-Boisclair

The stillness of a birch wood forest is captured in my speckled line of vases.

The animals in my work often have very emotive facial characteristics — with the goal of creating a connection between the viewer and subject.

pufferfish planters by Emilie Bouvet-Boisclair

Pufferfish planters

Humans need to be better stewards of our shared home. Many of us live lives away from the small wonders of the natural world, wrapped in a bustling concrete jungles distracted by bright screens, crowded buses, and constant distraction . It is easy to forget our dependance and interconnectedness with our environments, and also all the creatures that share the earth with us.

Large bowl featuring puffins in a melting arctic with a rainbow throughout. The rainbow refers to a Christian story of Noah's Arc, and God's promise not to flood the earth ever again. We find ourselves in a time when sea levels are rising as a result of human industry; and our leaders are in position to play god to our planet, weather for better or for the self interest of the few.

Large bowl featuring puffins in a melting arctic with a rainbow throughout. The rainbow refers to a Christian story of Noah’s Arc, and God’s promise not to flood the earth ever again. We find ourselves in a time when sea levels are rising as a result of human industry; and our leaders are in position to play god to our planet, weather for better or for the self interest of the few.

Puffin and Rainbow Bowl (D) copy

Detail from Puffin and Rainbow Bowl.


Photo by: Alexis Bouvet-Boisclair

My studio practice balances my love of sitting down and throwing production with creating more detailed, singular work. Throwing a board full of rounded vases is a meditation and a mental groove I can ride all day long. I find it gives me the mental space to develop and realize larger and more developed pieces.

Pottery requires a humbleness — there are so many facets of ceramics that have taken years to master — and there are lifetimes more of learning. Always having a challenge that seems attainable is one thing I enjoy from pottery making. It is a field which demands hours and full attention; the hurdles overcome and subsequent results in my artistic journey are hugely gratifying. 


Pots in production. Every one of these that was a success has a pot that failed behind it.

In the last month, I learned to throw large pots — that was hugely difficult and tearful (this was for a commission with a tight deadline which I self assuredly accepted) and also self validating.  Each pottery technique that is mastered will open the door to new ideas and projects. 


I love the interplay between the grouping of large pieces. These found a permanent home at the Hoxton Hotel in Chicago- they echo the stillness found on the lake front. Lake Michigan is a place to find a bit of peace from the city noise.

On the horizon for next year, I plan to experiment more with throwing large series; I enjoyed the play and interaction with scale, form and color in the pieces in my last collection. I also plan on bringing light into my work — I am interested in the possible narratives and hidden worlds that could be created using light — so hardwiring bulbs will be a skill I hope to attain soon as well. 


Right now I am a potter- but I will always consider myself an artist first and hope to dip into my box of oils sometime in the future. 

You can see more of my work at TwinettePoterie.com or @TwinettePoterie on Instagram.

Emilie Bouvet-Boisclair is one of 44 artists included in the 4th annual The Cup, The Mug exhibition on the second floor at Main Street Arts, a national juried exhibition of drinking vessels. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shop. The Cup, The Mug runs through December 14, 2019.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Maria T. Bentley

MTB studio

Tethered to our innermost beings and the marrow that comprises us, our bodies are rooted in the earth. The loss or decay of any one of these can cause an imbalance. I aim to provoke that delicate steadiness while inducing a sense of nostalgia, and odd familiarity.


“Bottom of the Barrel” 2015 – mixed media sculpture

I was born and raised in Seneca Falls, NY. Growing up surrounded by the Finger Lakes, rural farm land, and state parks, I am continually drawn outdoors. Religious influences and family experiences are other factors that play a role in my work. I see the use of clay as a representation of the physical body, drawn from the Genesis creation story; recycling of material and life. To me ceramic vessels and sculptures take on a figuratively charged quality representing people from my life.


“C.A. O.” 2015 – ceramic/ mixed media sculpture

Alzheimer’s and the aging process are explored in my color palate and surfacing quality. Alzheimer’s is a terrible thing to watch a loved one experience, for me it was my grandfather. I recall his vibrant personality and coloring became muted, rather quickly. I recall bruises and the cloudy confusion in his eyes as he became a shell of the man I once knew. Using ceramic burnout methods I expose natural fibers to the firing process, leaving an  exoskeleton of what was, similar to those that experience Alzheimer’s.  What was once there remains in essence but is never the same.


“How are the numbers?” 2019 – ceramic

Using muted earthy colors and textures associated to decay, decomposition, aging, and the natural earth, I mimic the passing of time. The combining of materials and insertion of light charges the work with multiple layers. In each piece I combine three or more materials experimenting with ceramic, wood, glass, neon/ light, metal, and fibers.


“Dust to Dust” 2019 – mix media sculpture


etail shot of the ceramic garbage pail in “Dust to Dust”

I enjoy incorporating apples into my work as it add an ephemeral element to the piece that grows/decays with the passing of time. Apples hint towards my childhood as well as referencing religious creation stories. The piece above invited viewers to eat an apple and dispose of the core in the ceramic garbage pail. Over time there was an accumulation of cores, the collection of compost created by humans, and the decay of these cores provided a wonderful smell and color to the inside of this white void.

My studio practice is sporadic. I am constantly traveling to portfolio days and art classrooms across the country for my position in admissions at Alfred University.

In our "Sugar Shack" making maple syrup this past winter.

In our “Sugar Shack” making maple syrup this past winter.

Image may contain: one or more people, plant, tree, outdoor and nature

Working in the garden on our land

I reside in Hornell, NY with my partner. We have land that we garden on and we have a maple farm, Maple Marrow at B&T Farms. We spend a great deal of our time outside playing in the earth or creating with it. I am continually researching and exploring new ways to enhance my practice, manipulate material, and expand my network.

View more of my work on my website at www.mariatbentley.com.

Maria T. Bentley is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Maliya Travers-Crumb

Maliya Travers-Crumb, artist in residence at Main Street Arts, during the month of August 2018, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Maliya some questions about her work and studio practice:


Q: Tell us about your background. I grew up in Avon, NY outside of Rochester. My mother is a quilter so our house was full of fabric and craft supplies for me to experiment with.  I was always making something or other, attempting to make my own clothes or scribbling in my sketch book. I currently work as an administrator for the University of Rochester Urgent Care system. I spend most of my free time making pottery.

 Q: What was your experience like at art school? I’ve always been a big reader and literature is an integral aspect of my practice. I studied English and studio art at Oberlin College as an undergrad and did a lot of conceptual work. I went back to school and got a second bachelor’s degree in illustration from RIT where I specialized in digital techniques. It was at RIT that I rediscovered ceramics and it was sort of the missing piece in rounding out the way that I think about and approach my art.


Q: How would you describe your work?
I mostly make pottery, but my work is very informed by my background in illustration. I like to think of clay as a different kind of canvas, and I really enjoy pairing flat  drawings with more dimensional forms. I work primarily with graphic black and white painting which helps to create a sense of continuity between my work. My illustrative style gives me the freedom to go in a lot of different directions with the pottery I create. I gravitate toward simpler forms which I paint in a whimsical style with a lot of cats and other creatures.


Q: What is your process for creating art? I had hand surgery about 6 months ago, which has significantly impacted my process and how I make art. I had a repetitive strain injury to the sagittal band on my dominant hand, which was very painful and made it almost impossible to hold a pen. I couldn’t make art for a year and a half and I refer to it as my personal dark ages. Making art is very tied into my sense of self.  When I wasn’t able to throw or draw, I thought about art constantly. What I would make, what I would change when I was able to get back into the studio. I thought more intellectually about form, about making intentional art rather than just working intuitively. Although the process was inarguably terrible, the shift in my art since being able to make again has definitely been a positive one. In a time where throwing on the wheel is something that has come more into vogue, it’s interesting for me to focus on something different and how I can approach a fresh type of making. How does creating multiples affect the preciousness of an object? How does this change if you add in more of the decorative arts? What does a piece from a mold need in order to be its own unique work of art? 


Q: Do you collect anything?
 I’m really into strange natural bits of detritus and decay. I have a collection of pinned beetles, shells, little animal bones, pressed flowers, and rocks. There is something very satisfying about tiny things.
Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
I have always loved fairy tales, and am particularly drawn to the work of Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac. I also love the graphic style of Aubrey Beardsley, his drawings for Le Morte d’Arthur are strongly influential to my own work.

Q: Who inspires you and why?
Reading has always been something that I go to when I need inspiration or comfort. Audiobooks have been the perfect tie in to how I create art. I love fantasy and storytelling, and something about listening to stories when I work helps me to create narratives within my own pieces. Anything by Neil Gaiman is on the list, but particularly Neverwhere which he narrates himself. I also love the Series of Unfortunate Events, which I didn’t originally like as much until I started listening to them narrated by Tim Curry who is over the top hilarious and amazing. My all time favorite will always be the Harry Potter audiobooks, which were an enormous part of my childhood and my development as a person.
Q: What are your goals for this residency? My goal for this residency is to create a new practice of mold making with a focus on form and function. I’m looking forward to having the chance to spread out a little in this space and maybe create some larger pieces. I didn’t study ceramics in school, so I’m excited to learn more of the technical aspects of the process. I will be firing a kiln for the first time during my residency!  (With a little help from previous artist in  residence  Zoey Murphy Houser so I don’t melt anything J).

Q: Where else can we find you?
Instragram: @mtcpottery

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jody Selin

Until about the age of 6, I grew up in fairly rural area of Greensboro, North Carolina. My parents were avid gardeners and some of my fondest memories where of snapping green beans, skinned knees and following my parents around the yard, as they pruned and planted throughout the growing season.

Jody Selin working in her studio

Jody Selin working in her studio

There was plenty of land to roam as unsupervised kids and we took full advantage of it. If asked, we could recite the trees in our yard; cherry, pear, oak, dogwood and magnolias. It was here that I naturally developed a love of being outdoors, gardening and a fascination with plant and earth sciences. These earliest childhood impressions, along with a mother who encouraged creativity, are what I carry into my work today. 

Various pieces in progress

Various pieces in progress

So, for the better part of 20 plus years, I’ve been making art and choosing to live creatively. Originally, I came to Western New York to pursue my MFA in Ceramics at RIT’s School for American Craft, eventually settling in Buffalo, NY. Before this, I had traveled around the US and Caribbean for several years, where my natural inclination for plant biology overlapped with a love for the enormous plant growth and lush, saturation of the sub-tropics. The ecology of western NY has been just as inspiring, with the diverse hiking trails, rivers and Great Lakes. 


Detail of “Entangled Growth” from CULTIVATE exhibition

"Medium Pollinator Cluster" from the CULTIVATE exhibition

“Medium Pollinator Cluster” from the CULTIVATE exhibition

Working with my hands, traveling, hiking and experiencing people and places outside of my direct understanding have always been an interest for me. At my best, I am curious. 

These recent works, featured in the CULTIVATE exhibition, are a reflection of this continued curiosity. Threads of previous works in content and style are always present although, I intentionally choose to pursue work that is continually explorative and in response to my direct natural environment. 

Jody Selin is one of eight gallery artists represented by Main Street Arts. She is featured in the exhibition CULTIVATE which runs April 7 through May 18, 2018. More information about Jody and her work can be found on our website. View more pieces byJody Selin on the gallery’s Artsy page.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Zoey Murphy Houser

Zoey Murphy Houser, artist in residence at Main Street Arts, during the months of March and April 2018, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Zoey some questions about her work and studio practice:

Zoey with her Patchwork Animals

Zoey with her Patchwork Animals

Q: Tell us about your background:

I was raised (and still live) in a village called Newark in the Finger Lakes, about 12 minutes from Main Street Arts. My mom gave me an art easel and Legos as my first toys as a kid — she has a picture of me painting when I was two, and she says she knew I was an artist by then. Throughout my high school years my main mediums were drawing, painting, and photography, however my preferred medium became clay while attending Alfred University, where I obtained my BFA with a minor in art history.

Zoey painting at age 2

Zoey painting at age two

I’m currently teaching art part-time and volunteering at Bridges for Brain Injury where I’m the art project head. I’m also volunteering alongside Wildlife Defenders where I help handle and take care of various animals including a wallaby, a dingo, ring-tailed lemurs, a lynx, a red fox, and a coyote.

Zoey with Cash the Lynx

Zoey with Cash the lynx

Q: How would you describe your work? 
My preferred medium is clay. I love the tactility of creating with a medium that I can handle with my hands without always having a tool as a mediator. Currently I am working on what I call “Patchwork Animals,” inspired by my childhood collection of well-loved stuffed animals which instilled in me a love for the real-life creatures they represented. I am equally inspired by images of animals I encounter — a dog wearing a lion’s mane, a seal snuggling a small stuffed animal seal, a hedgehog with a strawberry on its head, baby bats wrapped in blankets, my own dog carrying a mini tire around her nose… peculiar creatures doing absurdly-adorable things make me surge with creative energy (and cute aggression).

Zoey with her Patchwork Elephant

Zoey with her Patchwork Elephant

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I have a stash of animal images and videos I reference to sketch and get inspired by. When I begin my sculptures I’ll occasionally have a quick sketch or detailed drawing of what I want to create but this isn’t always the case. Usually I focus first on the clay body in front of me, trusting my hands to build what I am consciously and unconsciously creating. Molding, pressing and “stitching” each clay animal together results in the form taking on a life of its own.

Lemur Patchwork Animal Drawing

Lemur patchwork animal drawing

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
My goal is to create multiple patchwork animal sculptures that tap into playful oddity. I intend to expand upon various aspects of my animals: their size, texture, color, how they interact with one another, and how those interactions impact the viewer. I want to experiment with their postures and expressions to accentuate their life-like existence while also provoking the viewer to reminisce on the innocence of childhood.

Q: Do you collect anything?
Whenever I go on an adventure (whether that be out of the country, out of state, out of town, or simply out of my house), I tend to find and press flowers to later stick into handmade books. I also collect stones, seashells, sea and lake glass, sand and dirt, and little bones when I can find them. The idea of “collections” is one of the four roots that feed my art forms.

Pressed Flower from Brasil

Pressed flower from Brazil

Pressed flower from Brazil

Pressed flower from Brazil

Pressed flower from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Pressed flower from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Q: Who is your favorite artist?
Vincent Van Gogh has always been my favorite artist; I resonate with his paintings – his urgency to lay down paint, his shameless textures and colors used to express his inner soul, and the whimsical, dream-like state he was able to communicate through his work instilled in me an indescribable connection.

My other favorite artist is Keith Schneider, whose assemblage-characters have given me ideas on how to patch my own sculptures together.

Q: Who inspires you?
LAIKA Productions has fascinated me for years. Their movie Coraline has had a huge impact on my work – the dolls, the parallel “other” world and its peculiar essence, the color scheme throughout the movie, the music… everything about it inspires me. I keep a copy of it in my studio – I’ll often have it playing while I’m working.

A Woven Paradox, BFA Thesis Exhibition

A Woven Paradox, BFA Thesis Exhibition

Q: What advice would you give to other artists?
Van Gogh has a quote that I live, breathe, and create by: “It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much, performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”

This ties into the modern Greek word “meraki,” which is the soul, creativity, or love put into something; the essence of yourself that is put into your work.

Essentially: your best work is done in love.

Q: What was your experience like at art school?
I was perpetually inspired by classmates and grad students at Alfred University. Much of my BFA thesis exhibition, A Woven Paradox, was based off of my friends – their mannerisms and outfits were so wonderfully strange, I just had to make sculptures to honor them.

Val and Steph, Ceramic Sculptures

Val and Steph, Ceramic Sculptures

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
Art school taught me that my most useful tool is myself. Other necessities include (and not limited to): friends that make you laugh (and stay sane), a sign that reads: “remember to eat!” and coffee. Lots of coffee.

Zoey in Freshman Year Foundations

Zoey in freshman year foundations

Q: What’s next for you?
I have fluttering ideas, but no solid plans. My usual approach of winging it always brings me to a neat place! Something tells me I’ll end up outside of the country eventually, but who knows. If you want to follow my journey, you can follow me on social medias (below).

Zoey in Brasília, Brasil

Zoey in Brasília, Brazil

Q: Where else can we find you?
website: http://www.zoeymurphyhouser.com/
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zoeymurphyhouserstudio/
instagram: @zozo_studio and @zozomurph