Stars Fell On Alabamy…

One of my favorite Ella and Satchmo songs…

My buddy Sebastian and I traveled down to Birmingham this last weekend to attend the Alabama Clay Conference. It was a whirlwind weekend filled with ceramics, fantastic demonstrations, shows, museums and a great deal of pain. It’s 3 weeks and counting and my ankle is not better yet with the hematomata still hanging on. But I met some very nice people who tolerated my limping and hobbling around wherever we happened to be heading. The joke became that so many things were in walking distance… but one man’s walking distance is another man’s marathon on bleeding stubs. Of course, since no one knew me most people probably just figured I was a permanent hobbler. So anyway, the presenters at the conference were Lorna Meaden, Christopher Gryder and Sergei Isupov. It was a great combination of diverse artists whose work really looked good together in the exhibit of the presenters. Here’s an example of each starting with Lorna, then Chris, then Sergei…

All three presenters had compelling demonstrations and wonderful “slide” talks about their work. Lorna throws about every type of clay object known and had a wonderful facility with the material. Chris showed a unique and innovative process that is all his own and is successfully employing 3D modeling software in his work and of course, probably everyone is already aware of Sergei’s work. Here are some not-so-great pics of the presentation that I took from my seat with a zoom and they are all a bit blurry. There aren’t any of Chris as he was all the way on the other side of the stage from where I sat plus the cool stuff to look at of his would require someone to shoot pictures down into the molds he was creating. My main purpose was to try to get pics of Sergei’s piece in progress…

There were many funny exchanges between Sergei and Lorna as she would ask him a question and he would be so focused that he was oblivious that anyone was even speaking to him. I was amazed at how quickly Sergei’s piece came together and how quickly he painted it. He is a very funny person with lots of silly stories. My favorite was when he moved to this country, he said he only knew one word in english… really. <– no that's the word. Anyway, he said he would be places and people would talk to him for long periods of time and he would simply nod and occasionally say "really" or "really?" or "REALLY!" with different inflections (of course not knowing a word they were saying to him.) I also enjoyed the fact that he was very much a person who de-mystified the process and explanations of things. For example, he said that he was making dogs in his imagery because he didn't want to be held to the anatomical correctness required to do humans but people kept asking him what kind of dogs they were. So his solution was to make monkeys instead. He said no one ever asked what kind of a monkey it was. Anyway, it was a maelstrom of clay related activity and we had a very good time. I created a photo album on Facebook with most of the pieces that were at the "Heated Exchange" exhibit which was the show of the presenters' work. Click here to see the other pieces. This was my favorite piece by Chris Gryder (each tile is 12″x12″)…

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8 Responses to “Stars Fell On Alabamy…”

  1. Patricia griffin Says:

    Wow Jim, thanks so much for taking and sharing these pics. I love Sergei’s work and seeing this step-by-step is kind of mind-blowing. Lorna has been on my workshop wish-list for a long time… Wish I would have been there… Your stories always make me laugh, though I do hope your “bloody stump” Is better.

  2. meredith@whynot Says:

    I am with the one word here- WoW- enough said
    wow, wow, wow!

  3. ron Says:

    Jim, when you said ‘blood stump’ I cringed. Ouch. I do hope you feel better soon. My PF seems to be healing up with help from the nicemint (I so love that). I hope it’s not something that re-occurs.

    Saw Lorna at the NC Clay Conference a couple years ago. She is amazing. And I love Sergei’s work. There was an exhibition of his work at the Mint in Charlotte years ago. It was so far out. It’s so far away from what I do. Great to see him in action here.

  4. cindy shake Says:

    Absolutely magical -to be able to witness that process and talent MUST have been completely inspiring! WOW is right!

  5. barbaradonovan Says:

    hehehe. I clicked on the video advertisement cuz I didn’t realize it was an ad. derp. Reminded me of the time one of your readers got all offended and flounced off in a huff because she thought a picture of a tool you included in a post was a click through ad (it wasn’t) and thought it was appalling for potters to have ads on their blogs.

    Anyways, wow and thanks for all the pictures. Sergei’s piece is incredible, especially to see in stages. Looks like it was a great time, hobbling notwithstanding.

  6. ang Says:

    love it jim must have been a brilliant time despite the hobbling!! just get a scooter will ya! love this work heading over to the slideshow noe…thanks for posting :)) cheers ang

  7. ang Says:

    hey great soundtrack!!

  8. Lori Leaumont Says:

    Oh man, is that some lovely work. Must have been incredible to be there in person! With three incredible artists working side by side like that, it must have been hard to know where to look! I hope your leg gets better soon, that does not sound fun.

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