Scott Bennett: A Voice in Clay.


Bennett takes clay’s malleability and molds it into a range of sculptural and functional objects

by Brett Levine,   Photo by Jerry Siegel

Scott Bennett really is a man of the earth. It provides a raw material, clay, that he forms into both functional and sculptural objects of exquisite beauty and detail. “I guess I would classify myself as a ceramic artist” Bennett says, “because I’m very interested in forms, but I don’t always require them to function.”

This understanding of the intersections between these two ideas allows Bennett to create works that are both sensual and subtle at the same time. “I started working with clay because it has the ability to take any form,” he explains, “and you can do things with it that you can’t do with any other material.”

Bennett takes clay’s malleability and molds it into a range of sculptural and functional objects. “For the past two years, I’ve actually been making cups,” he laughs. “I always do cups as demonstrations to my classes, but I’ve also begun to consider how I might create shapes that might not be possible if I tried to throw them on the wheel.” His focus on cups isn’t without challenges, however. “I have a love/hate relationship with making them,” he smiles, “because cups embody the absolute definition of pottery!”

The wheel is in fact where much of Bennett’s works begin. “I see the potter’s wheel as a means to make other forms,” Bennett remarks. “Using a wheel doesn’t have to result in something symmetrical. In fact, I often form part of an object on the wheel, and then hand build the remainder or even alter the thrown form.”

Bennett brings a wealth of experience to the studio. “I received my Master of Fine Arts from Ohio State in 1989, and I’ve been working as a ceramic artist ever since.”   Now, he is both a co-director and owner of Red Dot Gallery, with artist Dori DeCamillis, and a well-respected ceramics practitioner. He also sits on the advisory board of Ceramics Monthly magazine.

“I’ve always seen clay as the boundary which I have set for myself to work within,” Bennett remarks, “I just try to explore its limits in as many diverse ways as I can.”  This emphasis led him to take a mold making workshop, which greatly influenced his recent works. “What I realized was that I couldn’t necessarily throw the forms I was seeking on the wheel itself, but that I could throw solid shapes, make molds, and then slip cast what I had envisioned.” This ability led Bennett to recently exhibit a series of car hybrid works at Space 301 in Mobile, as part of the 3 Plus 3 exhibition. “I was really interested in the streamlined industrial design of the automobile industry from the twenties, thirties and forties,” he laughs, “so I made abstract forms that I could embellish with components that suggested this history.” Some of the works even included flames, a nod to hot rod culture of both the past and the present. Bennett’s capacity to move between the functional and the conceptual is what most characterizes his works.

Bennett

He is also well known for his layered glaze techniques. “I am always looking for new glaze combinations,” he explains, “but the fundamental process, which I use today, was actually the result of a happy accident that came out of the kiln.”

With this in mind, Bennett always returns to the foundations of pottery and ceramics, the skills that allow him to express himself with such complexity. “I learned traditional techniques, which I still respect today,” he observes. “Without a strong foundation in basic skills, it is impossible to innovate.” Yet innovation  is what Bennett values most, moving between the traditional and the contemporary, between the functional, the decorative, and the abstract.

“I’m just about to start working on a new body of sculpture,” he says, quietly.  “I tend to work between two worlds, between the intimacy of the cups and the small sculptures on one hand, and on the larger conceptual pieces on the other.”  It is in this intersection, between traditional techniques and contemporary processes, between the potter who makes cups and the ceramic artist making objects ornamented with representational elements, that we find Scott Bennett. “Really it is all about the work,” he says with a smile. “Whether I am working on an object or working out an idea, clay is a medium that gives me the voice for what it is I have to say.”

One Response to “Scott Bennett: A Voice in Clay.”

  1. Lynn Neel says:

    We have one of Scott’s large vessel pieces in our home. It is so striking and yet warm. We are so proud to have it a part of our collection. Lynn and Jim Neel

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