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Andrew Avakian

Missoula, MT

My hand-built terra cotta vessels bring the richness of public architectural forms into homes and individual, intimate environments. Architecture, historical ceramics, abstract painting, and color theory are some current ideas driving my work. Many of my vessels are the result of my attempt to understand the proportions of historical ceramic vessels. Other pieces allude to the shape of buildings or their architectural components such as columns and arches. Pattern, color, and geometric abstraction all work together to accentuate the form and keep the viewer's eye moving around the piece. The layering of slips, underglazes, glazes, and the use of a sandblaster make possible the varied and complex surfaces on my vessels.

I was born in 1982 in Greenville, SC, and raised in Raleigh, NC. Growing up I loved playing guitar, drawing, and cooking. While attending Western Carolina University I decided to channel my creative energy into clay and received a BFA in ceramics in 2005. After graduating I was awarded a resident artist position at the Cub Creek Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in central Virginia, where I started developing my personal aesthetic. In 2008 I moved back to Raleigh and continued my studio practice at Claymakers Studios in Durham where I was a studio assistant. Recently I spent two years studying ceramics at the University of Florida as a post-baccalaureate. From 2013 to the spring of 2015 I was a resident artist at Odyssey Clayworks in Asheville NC, where I was able to transition into making art full time. In the spring of 2015, I moved to Missoula, MT with my wife, Donna Flanery, to work as a gallery assistant at the Clay Studio of Missoula and established my own studio in the historic Ceretana building. In the fall of 2016 I was awarded a residency position at the Clay Studio of Missoula and currently make work and teach there.

I build my vessels using shapes I cut from stiff slabs of terra cotta clay. The shapes are then assembled to create larger, three-dimensional forms. Once the forms have been refined and the texture has been applied, they are allowed to dry completely. Then multiple layers of underglaze and terra sigillata are applied, and the pieces are bisque. The vessels are sandblasted, the patterns are revealed and the multiple layers become one. The pots are then waxed and glazed and loaded back into the kiln for the final firing.
Wescover creator since 2020

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