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The calm in the midst of a storm: An interview with UK ceramics student Larkyn Rogers

“My art begins as a practice of mediation that turns into beauty. It is a walking illustration of the eye of a hurricane - the calm in the midst of a storm of anxiety and stress ever present in my brain. I am inspired by compassion and empathy," Larkyn Rogers said. "I don’t want my art to reflect the ugliness in the beginning. Everyone knows what that looks like. I want to show the beauty of resolution at the end. I want my art to be the quiet place you find in the crazy loud city, or the beautiful feather you find on the ground on a bad day.”

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing one of my good friends and fellow art students, Larkyn Rogers. Rogers is a bachelor of fine arts art studio major at the University of Kentucky, primarily working within the medium of ceramics. She describes herself as a curious-minded person, dangerously unafraid of failure. Here, Rogers gives us insight into her life as an artist, highlighting what inspires her work and drives her creativity.

What made you decide to pursue art? Why ceramics in particular?

My work is my happy place. It's somewhere I can go and not think of anything else. It's when I truly feel myself. I create art because of the sinking feeling I get in my chest any time I think about doing anything else.

Ceramics is my medium. I am a naturally curious person and I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty! I remember as a kid I would go out to play and come back covered in mud with little pinch pots in hand and the biggest smile across my face. Today is no different. Every day that I go home covered in clay, having spent hours creating work, is a good day.

My process on how I create my work truly is a reflection of me. I struggle with anxiety and OCD. Growing up, and even now, I will have to repeat things such as flipping a light switch or knocking on a door until it feels right. In my ceramic work, I love to throw vessels and create a repetitive texture that goes around the outside of the piece. It has become a positive practice of OCD that also helps to soothe my anxiety. When I create these textured slip patterns on the outside of my vases I can scrape off and redo the texture as many times as necessary for it to feel right and for me to be satisfied. In the final, fired pieces you can see the persistence and time that I put into my work. This is also why I am attracted to clay. No matter how many times you mess up or are not happy with it, as long as it has not been fired, you can smash, cut and reuse it. No material is wasted, and any piece that I do not like doesn’t have to exist.

You have a very individualistic style. What do you feel is unique about the way you create your pieces?

I love creating vases and slip textures on the vase. I have not seen anyone else create patterns and texture like I do with slip on the outside. This allows me to use color and texture in a very interesting way. The glazes and the colors interact differently with the textured areas than it does on the smooth surfaces of a typical ceramics piece.

When facing the inevitable “creative block,'' how do you overcome it to get in the right headspace?

It is the same way someone's body tells them they need sleep. My body will tell me I need to make art.

Creation, destruction and rest is key. If I struggle with a creative block, I have to create something that I can just destroy. The process of a piece can be long and stressful. If I am struggling with a wheel thrown piece, I will create a form that I can change and shape, just for the fun of it knowing that I'm not going to keep it. It removes the sense of urgency, allowing me to relax.

What is the next big step for you? What are your current goals for your work?

My next big goal is my BFA senior show. This show is heavily influenced by my connection to animal forms and life with horses. I started as an Equine Science major and have spent many hours studying the anatomy and physiology of horses. My senior show will explore the range of human emotion experienced by a person going through the stages of grief. The grief that I struggled with was the sudden death of my beloved mini horse, Darcy, who played such an important role in my life. I plan to create five large vases each exploring a different stage of grief through color, construction, texture and size. For me, I went through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. I want people to be able to look through these series of vases and relate them to their own struggles with grief. Through my life with Darcy, I learned how to face my emotions.

Lastly, are there any words that have been shared with you that have resonated with you through your artistic journey?

Never be afraid to create, and never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.


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