“When I start a sculpture and watch it grow, changing shape through many objects, and finally, crystallizing in its unique form – it seems as if I am literally in the process as opposed to being out in the usual world.”
Getting sucked into a different dimension while you’re doing something? That’s what happens when it is something you are truly passionate about. In today’s Host Spotlight, meet Natasha, Ceramic Sculptor and Installation Artist – and be inspired by her story on how clay becomes a form of expressionism because of her immense love for it!
Hi, can you introduce yourself to our community and tell us more about the experiences that you offer through Verlocal?
Hi, my name is Natasha. I am an artist mostly working with clay and conducting workshops from my studio. They are called “Adventures in Clay” and are suited for people either new to ceramic sculpture or for those who are looking to improve their ceramic skills. The course is centered on fundamental principles of clay sculpting. Wherever the students feel comfortable is where we begin. All subject matter – whether “traditional” or “your own” – is acceptable. I usually assign my students to bring an original idea to start with. Otherwise, we’ll create a project that suits them. Teapots, masks, busts, reliefs, animals, abstractions, buildings and everything in between is created during the class. Then all sculptures are glazed and fired as needed.
Tell us about your background: When did you first become inspired to do what you love?
I was raised in Kiev and I also lived in and studied art in St. Petersburg, Russia. I realized quite early in my life that the pursuit of art for me was not a choice, it was an unavoidable necessity. Since childhood I have drawn, painted, and sculpted i.e. expressed myself visually. My parents were very supportive of my endeavors, so I went to numerous art schools and art colleges. After I finished college, I worked as a graphic designer at a company in Kiev which also happened to have a clay department. There, I touched clay and really fell in love with it.
What does your passion mean to you?
Clay is truly ubiquitous, self-contained and self-driven. Having once touched it, having once worked with it, I could not stop. I am still amazed by the endless transformations I can achieve with this medium. In my work, an octopus can be a part of a figure, a bird could have a face, a cloud becomes a hat… Clay does it all, uniting high and low, simple and sophisticated, Earth and Heavens, nothing and everything, because it is a part of the soil and a particle of the divine space at the same time.
What made you want to pursue your passion and become a host?
It is a funny story because I immensely disliked sculpture in art school and in college where in both places I was not lucky enough to have good professors. I feel that I have to give back and share my knowledge with the community.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to learn more about your passion?
Take my class: recently, I had a local student who invited her visiting mother to take the class together. The mother of this student told me my class was the most memorable experience during her month-long visit. She could not wait to come back for the second class and she will be continuing working with clay in her home country. This is pure passion! I would also recommend visiting museums and exhibitions featuring clay sculpture, as well as checking out books and magazines devoted to the clay process.
How would you describe the link between your classes and the community around you?
My students represent a diverse community from all walks of life. Most people in San Francisco hold office jobs these days, so it’s very stimulating for them to come and engage their creative side, using clay and working with their hands after hours of looking into a computer monitor. My classes also incorporate team-building activities and are great for theme and birthday parties where the students not only discover their creative side but also have a lot of fun getting to know each other.
How long have you been living in San Francisco? What are some insider tips you’d like to recommend to someone who just moved to the city?
I have been living in San Francisco for more than 10 years. I fell in love with this city immediately: it has so much to offer, each neighborhood has its own history and a character. Where I first moved I decided to visit a new area of the city every week. There is still so much to discover! I also enjoy walking on the ocean beach and in the parks, it starts my day with a great energy.
What is your favorite ceramic sculpture and the story behind it?
My latest work is usually my favorite since there is a fresh connection with my creation. However, from time to time, there are themes that I enjoy coming back to, executing my sculptures from different points of view. For example, my boats became egg-shaped transportation devices, the heads started to have wings, clay parts are being supported by metal, and so on. But at the same time, it still is the same theme of a journey which just acquires new visual elements.
Tell us about your favorite moment/ biggest achievement since you start doing ceramic sculpturing.
When I start a sculpture and watch it grow, changing shape through many objects, and finally, crystallizing in its unique form – it seems as if I am literally in the process as opposed to being out in the usual world. Sometimes I ask myself whether it is me creating or if the enigmatic energy is emanating through me from above, merely using my hands and my mind as appropriate tools. I may leave this state and look at the clay critically to decide what needs to be changed, but then I dive in and live with it again, transforming the clay and letting it transform me. Often I refuse to believe that what is done has been done by my own hands. With the clay there was neither time nor the necessity to think or interpret anything — there was only the magic of interaction.
What are your goals for the future?
I would like to establish an art center with the art classes ranging from art history to painting and drawing with a gallery where other local artists will be shown as well.
Any recommendations for someone who might want to start exploring a new passion?
Just go for it! Explore what it brings to your soul!
Share one quote that resonates with you the most and what it means for you?
“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls” – Pablo Picasso
My recent work displays my obvious desire to retire from the bustle of everyday routine to eternal values. The faster the flow of time, the more we tend to forget that, in fact, little is changing under the Sun: the Man eternally aspires to elevate himself from the mundane to spiritual heights, and this is the only road to immortality in art.
Unleash your creative side and start creating your clay sculpture now! Share the story behind your favorite sculpture or a piece of clay sculpture you want to create. Comment below before March 3, 2017 and one lucky commenter will get to go on a clay adventure with Natasha!
If you are a host on Verlocal and would love to feature on host spotlight, send us an email at [email protected] with a short paragraph about why you want to be featured!
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