We've been graced to hold the ceramic art of Natasha Alphonse in our space for the past month. Currently working in Seattle, Alphonse originally hails from the Black Lake First Nations reservation on the Northern tip of Saskatchewan. Much of Alphonse's work is inspired by her nature infused upbringing. Her technique is unwavering and each piece radiates a thoughtfulness that can only be found in handmade objects.
We sat down with Alphonse to learn a little more about her background and her artistic process.
Myriah: How did you come to work with your medium? Why did you choose this medium?
Natasha: I started taking wheel throwing my last semester of BFA. I was going to school for drawing when I ended up getting hooked on pottery. After graduating and moving to Seattle, I kept taking classes and found myself wanting to learn more about clay. I ended up needing a space to keep learning from my hands and so I opened a studio in SODO. Four years ago I decided I wanted to do this as a job which was scary. I like the idea of being a crafts-person and of making objects that are used every day—I love the idea that you can make something that is beautiful and also has a life after creation.
M: Have you always wanted to be an artist/maker?
N: Yes, my family always nurtured my artistic side so I grew up seeing myself as an artist pretty early on. It started with loving drawing and then into many forms of making from sculpture, jewelry, photography and even got into performance art in college.
M: Where do you draw inspiration from? What inspires you the most?
N: My background, memories of where I come from and how that has shaped the way I now see the world. I grew up being surrounded by a lot of wild nature and quiet icy landscapes, I can see how those images effect what things I chose to make today, simple and earthy objects. I think everyone pulls from things like that, subconsciously or consciously. The reason I am so interested in working with clay makes sense once I think about the root of my inspiration coming form the earth and its history. I am Native and come from the Dene Tribe in northern Saskatchewan, working with the earth is important as a symbolic medium as well - reclaiming a landscape and working with my body.
M: What experiences have shaped you as an artist?
N: I think everything must have, whether we know it or not. Everything builds on the thing before, good and bad experiences that all lead us to where we now are.
M: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
N: What's going to happen, is going to happen. Wise words from my father, I find it especially helpful in this craft of pottery. Things break and go wrong so often, it can be frustrating but its important to not get weighed down by it and just learn and move forward onto the next piece.
M: What’s your favorite artwork?
N: I don't know if I have an all time favorite, but recently I have been thinking and looking a lot at the artist Lee Ufan's sculptural installations. They keep popping into my head and so that's one artist who is inspiring me at the moment.
M: What is your dream project?
N: I'd love to do a series of one-of-a-kind dishes for a restaurant, making each plate unique and gestural. It would be fun to have them fired in an atmospheric firing, like a wood kiln.