Published on May 6th, 2016 | by TLV News0
Local Artist Lowdown: Bryan Horn
Artistic Style: Most of my work is handmade pottery that is thrown on the wheel using porcelain or stoneware. After throwing, I apply surface decorations either directly after forming the piece while it is still on the wheel or I’ll alter the form and apply marks after the clay has had time to stiffen up. I have been primarily soda firing my work for the last three years, which is a process that involves using a solution of soda ash and baking soda that is sprayed in the kiln at around 2380 degrees Fahrenheit. The soda moves through the kiln and forms a glaze on the work and leaves subtle to dramatic flashing marks that record the movement of the flame and makes each piece unique. It’s a hot and labor intensive process, but the results are always worth it.
Hometown: Horn Lake, MS
How long have you lived in Oxford?: I moved here in August of 2012 for graduate school and graduated in the spring of 2015. My wife and I live in midtown Memphis so I’m in Oxford during the week for work and back home with her on the weekends. We’ve had to shuffle being between towns for four years but we make it work and, for that reason, the idea of home becomes prominent in much of my work.
Early art experience: I used to draw my favorite cartoon characters when I was little. I got pretty decent at drawing Ninja Turtles and Transformers—well, decent for a six year old. I would draw what ever I was interested in at the time like my favorite sports athletes or video game characters. My dad’s mother did a lot of oil paintings of her horses and landscapes and my uncle drew a good bit when he was younger so I took an interests in drawing pretty early on. I took art classes in high school and won an award at a state competition, which happened to take place at Ole Miss in the Tad Pad. That kind of gave me the nudge that maybe I’d pursuit art. I had never touched clay until my sophomore year in college and I haven’t looked back since then.
Favorite visual artists: I try to pull inspiration from a lot of people depending on what ideas I’m exploring. Modern to contemporary artists I look to include Randy Johnston, Robert Sperry, Don Reitz, Robert Motherwell, Linda Christianson, Matt Long, Jen Allen and many more. I try to look at artists across different mediums because often times, there is something in another process that can inform your own work. There is such a vast and rich history in ceramics so I find myself looking at pottery from Song Dynasty in China to Buncheong ware of the early Joseon Dynasty in Korea. The forms, color and surface decorations of those periods are timeless and always a source for fresh ideas.
Art school? I went to Northwest Mississippi Community College for two years from 2006-2008 and finished my BFA from Delta State University in 2010. I completed my MFA from University of Mississippi in 2015.
Favorite book or author: I don’t read as often as I should, but Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” is one of my favorites. It’s a great tale with a sad ending, but I really admire the main characters strength and determination. He fought nature to try and capture a piece of it, only to have it taken away and no one to marvel at what he worked so hard for. I guess its kind of like being a living artist….
Favorite quotation: ”Failure is the key to success” This applies to any endeavor that is truly worth it.
Do you work out of a studio? I currently have a studio that I work out of on campus in the ceramics department.
How many hours to you spend in your studio each day? Anywhere between 6-12 hours depending on where I am at in process. Working in clay isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires a lot of physical work that includes making clay, wedging it, throwing or hand building, glazing and then firing. It is basically manual labor doubling as creative output, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am not one to stay idle so I couldn’t do desk work and stay sane.
Most productive hours? Whenever the mojo is flowing! I usually find a good rush at least twice a day. I drink my morning coffee and either wedge and weigh clay, or finish up pieces from the previous cycle. Then, I’ll hit another good energy burst usually between 3-7pm.
Favorite project you’ve completed: My MFA show is probably the most rewarding thing I’ve been through so far. Our graduate thesis includes making work to fill the entire space of Gallery 130 in Meek Hall and writing a thesis paper. It was rough. but extremely fulfilling.
Three ideas you want to explore in art: I’d like to continue evolving my work, both aesthetically and its utilitarian aspects. Sometimes a new form or surface can spring board new ideas and that is always invigorating. At some point I’d like to step back from my usual work and focus on making much larger vessels, at least five or six feet tall and possibly making instillations with tiles. I’d like to take what I’ve already done and learned and apply it to something I haven’t done and see how the conversation of the work can change.
Where can we see some of your art on display? I had work at the recent Double Decker Festival and I plan to show at the Cooper Young Festival in Memphis this September. I apply to national juried shows so I have work in current shows across the country at any given time. You can also find work for sale at my website cabinfever-studios.com
Do you have a “day job”? If so, where? I am an adjunct faculty member in the art department at Ole Miss. I teach beginning ceramics some semesters and I am currently assisting our new studio technician in the daily operations of the ceramics studio.
Favorite music/bands: I’m all over the place on that one. 75% of the time you’ll hear heavy metal coming out of my studio. The Sword, At the Gates, early to mid 80’s thrash bands, Clutch, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest are always on rotation. The other 25% bounces between 90’s hip hop, Classic Rock, Classic Country and Katy Perry.
What are some of your other hobbies? I try to be outside whenever possible. I play disc golf whenever I can and like to go to different courses in the Memphis Area and Northern Mississippi. I like meeting new people to play with and the camaraderie is always fun. My wife, Laura, and I also like to hit up national parks for hiking and taking road trips to new places.
Where do you hang out in Oxford? I’m in the art department working most of the time. If I’m not there, I’m usually at the intramural fields throwing discs. When I do go out I’m usually at The Blind Pig, City Grocery or Roundtable.
Aspirations: To keep growing and evolving my work, one step at a time. I’d like to one day have a full time professor position teaching ceramics. I love the class room studio and teaching people that clay is the way is an enriching experience as educator and a maker. I also can’t wait to buy a house some day and build a home studio.