Brian Horsch’s exhibit, Animals & More, is now on display in the front gallery of the Arts Center through September 24. With just a few days left to experience the exhibition, we asked Brian to share some thoughts on his background and artistic process. Get to know this longtime friend of the Arts Center and then check out his work during your downtown strolls this week… the weather may be hot but our galleries are cool and full of inspiration!
1) How did you get started in ceramics?
When my wife, Marilyn, and I became empty nesters in the Fall of 2007, it became quickly apparent to the both of us that I needed a hobby. She looked around a discovered that the Lawrence Art Center was offering an entry level hand building sculpture class and signed me up in January of 2008 for what turned out to be my first of many LAC classes. The instructor was Jennifer Holt and she did a wonderful job in introducing me to the basics of clay.
2) What were some of your sources of inspiration for Animals and More?
I get my inspiration from the animals around us. In my first eight week class I spent three weeks on just one piece fussing and fussing over it while a pondered on what else I should make. I then started making a horse and a whale. The more pieces I made, the faster the ideas for the next pieces came. Animals are so varied that ideas are endless. Clay is so flexible that it can easily mimic fur, wrinkles, fangs, musculature, hair, manes, hoofs, and claws. There is no end to the inspiration and source material.
3) What is one of your favorite aspects of the artistic process?
I love seeing the general animal shape come into being; the pose, the facial expression. When I first took up clay I did only hand building for two years but found that making the component parts needed to create one of my sculptures became a bit tedious. I decided to learn to throw things on the wheel to speed up that process. Sara Gross was the ceramic resident at that time and she was very patient in teaching the process. Throwing the component parts of my animals on the wheel; bodies, heads, snouts etc, dramatically sped up the time it took for me to get to my favorite part which is building the sculpture.
4) What role has the Arts Center played in your work?
LAC has been instrumental to my success in taking up ceramic sculpture. The wonderful resident artists taught me my skills and LAC incubated and nourished the camaraderie of the many classmates I have met over the years. The coming together of people with the common interest in art increased my appreciation and understanding of art as well as helped me learn the language of how to speak about art to others.
5) What themes or processes might you like to explore in the future?
As this time in my life, the wood firing of ceramics has my full attention because it is so exacting and yet mysterious. Opening a wood fire kiln is like Christmas because you have no idea of what you might find inside. Firing ceramics with wood is the oldest method but continues to endure because of the amazing surfaces that can be created with the natural glazing that comes from melting wood ash and the extreme heat. Wood fire has been going on for thousands of years and I will never be able to learn all of the collected knowledge about this technique but I plan to learn all that I can. It feels like drinking from a fire hose and I get excited just thinking about it.