15 Mar Meet the Makers: Jason Showard
Meet the Makers: Jason Showard. As part of our studio’s open doors sessions, “The Way of Clay”, we invite you to explore a series of exhibitions that will showcase the works of our most outstanding artists. On this occasion we are pleased to present, along with Jo Mair, the talented Jason Showard, whose direct and energetic style is sure to captivate you. In this interview he shares with us his influences, creative process, challenges and future goals, as well as his excitement for his upcoming exhibition at 137º. So let’s dive in and learn more about Jason’s journey as an artist!
Jason, how did your interest in ceramics begin?
I’ve enjoyed bringing my ideas into the world through my hands for as long as I can remember. I played with clay briefly in an introductory 3d art class in middle school, and I knew immediately that it was my favorite medium to date. After being denied entry my freshman and sophomore years due to lack of space, I was finally admitted to the ceramics program my junior year of high school. I now had an hour a day to explore this new medium that I had been fascinated with from afar. One hour a day turned into two hours the following semester, after my teacher and mentor, Mike Gordon, pulled some strings at the counseling office. Two hours grew to half of my school day my senior year thanks to Mike pulling more strings with my counselor, who was buying most of my work that I displayed for sale in the office. Ceramics was my identity, and I wore my messy clay clothes proudly through the rest of the non-ceramic school day grind. I was awarded a $500 ceramic scholarship to pursue my work after high school, but the realities of life as an adult took me on a 22 year detour.
What is it that excites you most about ceramic art?
All of my favorite mediums have some aspect of chaos to them. I love that the chemistry behind what is going on inside the kiln is so complex it’s impossible to control. It can be infinitely frustrating at times, but it’s part of what makes the medium so wonderful. Steel is my other favorite medium, and there are many parallels. With both, I enjoy creating technical forms, but my favorite finishes for the technical forms all have an aspect of unpredictability. I love the guided oxidation of steel using patina, and the reduction of clays and glazes in raku. Even in the controlled environment of an electric kiln, the compounding variables of time, temperature, and complex material science often result in unexpected outcomes. The perfectionist in me finds relief in the permanence of the results, and the inability to control them in real time. Much like fire, it’s something you can steer and influence, but can’t control.
What are your main influences and inspirations?
I’ve always been fascinated by light and shadows. I explore texture on my pieces, and create places for light to shine or shadows to hide. My work is inspired by the unpredictable movement and energy that a flame brings to a room. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with subtle textures that get filled in with glaze, but allow for different glaze depths. This highlights the ‘light’ and ‘shadowed’ parts of the texture in a different way.
How would you describe your creative process, from the conception of an idea to the creation of a piece?
There’s a variance in my process. Prior to getting back into ceramic art, I was making welded steel sculptures and building things with steel and wood. Creating with rigid materials requires more planning than working with clay. It can still be creative, but lacks the immediacy to change course on a whim. I often open a bag of clay with no plan. No idea how much I’m about to cut off and wedge, no vision for a final form. I sit down with a lump of clay in front of me and see what comes out of my hands. I love that that is possible with clay. Other times a vision of a finished piece will come to me and I just can’t get it out of my head. I have delayed making these visions for years, but they keep coming back until I create them. I’ll sometimes wake up picturing an object that I have to bring into the world. Eventually the artistic visions turn to mental walk-throughs of construction processes. That’s when it’s close to going from my brain, to my hands, to reality. This process usually results in my best work, but I find that I get more of these ideas when I allow myself the unplanned time to experiment.
What challenges have you faced in your life as an artist and how have you overcome them?
I don’t know if I have overcome them. At a young age I convinced myself that art could only be a hobby, and that I shouldn’t try to make a living as an artist. Even after receiving a scholarship for my ceramic work in high school I stopped making art for years. Then I went to Burning Man in 2012, (and most years since) and witnessing the incredible passion and communal effort to make art just to enjoy it for the week made me realize that I had been neglecting my favorite part of myself for years. I had been ignoring what I was most passionate about, and depriving myself of a creative outlet. A huge part of my life was missing and I needed to fix it. I started making art again and collaborating with the passionate makers that I surrounded myself with. Eventually, I started a fabrication business in Los Angeles which supported art departments building props and sets for TV, film, and music video production. I left the fabrication business to pursue less creative ventures, and art was just a hobby once again. Even after building artistic, creative things for a living, I still struggle to view my art as a viable career path. I’d like to overcome that, at least to see it as an option when making life decisions.
What are your future projects or goals as an artist?
I’m striving to give myself whatever tools are needed to get ideas out of my head and into the world when inspiration hits me.
What excites you most about your upcoming exhibition at 137º?
Having the opportunity to showcase all of my recent work in one place alongside another very talented artist, while hanging out with the local community and all the new friends that my wife and I have made in the past year that we’ve been living in Barcelona!
On April 1st, from 12pm to 8pm, Jason will be welcoming you to show you his work and share his path and passion with you. Don’t miss this opportunity and save the date!
Edited by Dalia Sofronie / Photography by Sara Lopez