We had the good fortune of connecting with Heather Couch and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Heather, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I love being an artist because it gives me a safe playground in which to take risks. Ceramic materials especially lend themselves to being stretched to their limits, and I invite failure and faulting into the making process. Sometimes a material cracks or bends in beautiful ways that it would not have if I did everything “properly” in the preparation of the piece. I often push the clay to make mistakes in one way or another so that I can have the natural properties exposed and the rough but beautiful textures it creates. Even structural failure can become a metaphor for strength despite the breakage. As a culture we are rebuilding after great breakage, and as individuals we often have to accommodate a weakness. We still find the courage to take risks, and this allows us both creative movement forward and great discovery.  I would not be where I am today without taking risk. As artists we pick up and move across countries, jobs, and cultures in pursuit of new ideas and opportunities for impact. In the studio I similarly take calculated risks, aiming to be  impressed with a variety of potential outcomes. If it comes out of the kiln needing something else, I can add another dramatic move and send it in again. In my practice, I continually rework a piece until I am satisfied. In my work I can afford to take more risk than in life, and it is exciting to freely let the each new thought take the lead without concern for failure.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My work centers around a creative relationship with materials and processes, letting the act of making inform the finished work. I tease out material defects and stress the boundaries of what is traditional, melding the ancient and the contemporary. Recent work has been exploring the texture of surfaces, covering methodical indentations with textured glazes in painterly compositions on a simple form. A continuing body of work explores the movement of the clay in the kiln to produce gestural forms, including the cracks, slumps, and new forms that result. My installation work features seemingly unstable compositions of wood, ceramic objects, and fiber to suggest a precarious stability and a playful willingness to make choices despite certain uncertainty. All of us have faced great challenges these past few years, and every artist must push through uncertainty. I love that I get to work with these ideas in the physical realm. I have been pushing my boundaries for more than 15 years, through many sleepless nights and tireless efforts. From washing wool and making clay, to cleaning floors, firing kilns, and studying history, my life revolves around the joy of making.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take any art lover to the Bunker Art Space, an extraordinary private art collection in southern West Palm Beach. We might stop at Lynora’s for some fresh Napoli style pizza or Cholo Soy for craft tacos. The natural areas of Florida are important and beautiful as well. My favorite beach is a just south of Juno Pier where the rocks are exposed, and snorkeling under the Blue Heron bridge is a must. We would check out some galleries on Palm Beach, wander the back alleys, and stop for gelato before sitting to chat under the orchids. Mountain Space Gallery in Lake Worth always has great shows, and of course we would stop for a festival at the Norton Museum of Art.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to thank my university, Palm Beach Atlantic, for their support during my time teaching here. They have provided facilities in which to create, funding for a residency in Italy, and the opportunity for my students and I to work with artists in Paris. Shoutout also to my professor Inchin Lee in South Korea who gave freely of his expertise and mentorship when I was young. Thanks also to mentors Susan Beiner, Sam Chung, Kurt Weiser, Sally Brogden, and Lee Benson. Your guidance, thoughtfulness, and dedication paved the way for my career. To every collector that helped me move one step forward, sincerest thanks! There are so many that have poured into me… I wouldn’t be here today without your support.

Website: heathercouchart.com

Instagram: heather.couch

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