Corvallis artist Amanda Salov grew up in Wisconsin, near Madison, in a town that had working artists. This influence on her growth as an artist is not something to be taken for granted. Not everyone grows up within earshot of working artists. Even more rarely amongst working ceramics artists.
“I grew up in a ceramics community, in a pottery community. So from the time I was a very young girl, I knew I wanted to work with clay,” says Salov.
“I had a neighbor that was a potter, a neighbor that was a mechanic, and another who was a farmer. And it was just another thing that somebody did.”
After getting her bachelor’s degree in ceramics at University of Wisconsin, she went after a Master of Fine Arts at University of Missouri, Columbia.
“It’s comparable to a master’s degree in anything. It’s about research, and learning to become a researcher. Learning how to ask the questions of yourself, for your work. Learning how to think about your work.”
She met her husband while working in Arkansas. He is now getting his PhD at OSU, which is what steered them to Corvallis. Here she is creating new art and working full time in ceramics. This is no small feat and comes after years of training, teaching and working in other studios. She stresses the misconception that an artist waits for inspiration. She’s in the studio working every day.
A striking aspect of her work is her use of mixed media in interesting ways in her pieces that are not immediately obvious. Her current show features beeswax in addition to lots of liquid porcelain. She says the beeswax gives a “visceral” feel to the work, and reminds the viewer of fat. It also acts as a preservative, so like the clay itself it has a more complex conceptual value.
“I use ceramics because of the things that it can do. That no other material can do.” She says, “Because it’s bone like, because of its translucency… the fact that clay is soft and we can touch it, or we can manipulate it, or we can dip something into it. And then we fire it. We fossilize that moment in ceramics.”
She’s got two shows coming up in March in Milwaukee at the annual conference for the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) as well as a solo show in Baltimore in June and a residency at the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Maine at the end of June.
In short, she’s very busy. This mirrors an oft-revisited thematic element in her own art.
“We as human beings are temporal. Everything’s changing. Everything’s passing. How does this affect us? And how do we acknowledge or deny that?”
Amanda Salov’s work can currently be seen in the show Thoughts and Longings at Arts Center in Corvallis until January 18th. You can visit her website at www.amandasalov.com