August 19, 2010

Jeff Forster, Helen Drutt Studio Fellow, Reflects on Year at HCCC

Forster in his studio
Former artist-in-residence and Helen Drutt Studio Fellow, Jeff Forster, recently completed his residency last month. Forster is a ceramic artist and often uses modern packing materials, such as Styrofoam, as molds. The resulting works are textured, handmade ceramic objects that reference the mass production of our current consumer culture. Below he shares more about his time at HCCC.

Soon after beginning my residency at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC), I realized it had more to offer than simply a space in which to work. In fact, HCCC is a hub for artists and other like-minded individuals working with craft mediums. During my time at HCCC, I’ve had the opportunity to meet artists from across the state of Texas and art enthusiasts from other parts of the country and abroad. These interactions have led to strong community contacts in addition to several invitations to exhibit outside of HCCC itself.

There are three galleries at HCCC that offer rotating exhibitions. Having multiple galleries provides high-caliber, accessible exhibitions on a regular basis. Often, as a working artist and educator, it is hard to find time to go out and see all the shows I want. Having these exhibitions "in house" made it easy to see the diversity of approaches within the field of contemporary craft.

From top to bottom:
Three stages of The Remediation of Empire,Images courtesy of the artists
One of the most unique, but unfortunately underutilized, features of HCCC is the Craft Garden. The garden boasts a wide variety of plants, all of which can be used in various craft processes. It is the only garden of its type that I know of. While I only found time to complete one project in the garden with fellow artist-in-residence, Gabriel Craig, I see the garden as a viable venue for future project proposals and would encourage others to do the same.

I think the most rewarding experience for me at HCCC was just the day-to-day interaction with the staff and other artists-in-residence. I have always enjoyed the synergy created in an environment of serious art professionals. While there were many times I was preoccupied with what I needed to get done, I believe even then I absorbed inspiration from the creative people around me. This attribute offers a continued dialogue of happenings within contemporary craft.

Through this interaction, not only has my knowledge of other craft mediums grown, but I had plentiful opportunities to work collaboratively with other artists. In addition to "The Remediation of Empire," the aforementioned installation with
Gabriel Craig, I also completed two collaborative sculptures with Kelley Eggert. I always enjoy working collaboratively as it forces one to work outside of his comfort zone, taking on new challenges. Whether successful or not, I see it as a means of individual growth.

Detail of "Object Reclamation" by Jeff Forster and Kelley Eggert.
Image courtesy of the artists.

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