Monday, October 10, 2011

OVAC Grant Recipient: Robin Wolf

by Frances Hymes, OVAC Intern
RobinWolf, an artist from Kingfisher, OK, recently received a Professional Basics Grant from the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition to help her attend the Western Design Conference. OVAC Intern Frances Hymes interviewed Wolf to learn more about her work and process. Learn more at
Robin Wolf, Jackson Hole Teapot, Ceramics, copper, antler.
Frances Hymes: In your artist info you say that your pottery is to be used. Do you worry that your pieces will become worn and there won't be pieces that endure over a long time, or do you have pieces that are set aside from use?
Robin Wolf: I have started to; some of my older pieces I was bad about hammering them because they weren’t the same quality as today’s work. I didn’t value them.  I do have a pitcher that I use on a daily basis that was the last piece that I made in 1986, the start of my 20 year hiatus from clay while I raised my three daughters. When I create my art, I really do hope that each piece is like trying on a pair of shoes. It’s  just knowing how the handle fits in the hand. Some pieces, your hand just fits into the handle and the natural contours of the wood.

FH: Is that the climax moment, the fit in someone’s hand or the finished pot?
RW: For me when it all comes together is when the customer has that ah ha moment; when the costumer finds the warmth of the piece that fits them.

FH: Do you have pieces that are hard to let go?
RW: Yes, the Jackson tea pot. I have a brown jug that I haven’t sold that I don’t want to give up because the handle felt so good to me, but one of my friends picked it up and said “Oh my god. It fits like a glove!” Those are great moments for me when the balance of the pottery connects a person with a piece.

FH: Your online gallery shows antlers being used as a handle. They have an organic nature. Is the renewing of material important in your work? 
RW: Yes. My husband and his brother farm and ranch, so the ebb and flow of nature is in every aspect of my life.   I believe that we always have to pay it forward.  I absolutely believe that you must always replenish the “well” if you want to continue to draw from it.
Robin Wolf, Teapot, Ceramics, cedar, rawhide
FH: Do you believe in karma? 
RW: Yes. My grandfather always said "ill-gotten gains bring no good."  His words have always stayed with me, and his words cross over into everything I do, if it’s not earned, it’s not going to pay off;  if you don’t replenish it won’t continue.

FH: Are you a self-taught artist or did you go to school?
RW: No, self-trained. It used to bother me but I’m proud of it now.

FH: Did your work change after you took pride in your self-training?
RW: Yes. In believing in yourself, you learn to have self-worth and self-pride. Belief in yourself is mandatory in order to continue to push the envelope.

FH: What works in progress do you have going right now?
RW: My first commission - it is a 12 place setting of dinnerware for a large ranch family.

FH: Is it hard to create for commission instead of going off of intuition and letting creativity flow?               
RW: I have been blessed to have the opportunity to create a unique grouping of art for this family, they have specifically given me a huge amount of latitude to create and design specifically for them.  I would truly struggle if I had to create perfect and repetitive pieces.  Uniform/repetitive pieces are available at Wal-Mart; I’m not capable or interested in doing that kind of work

FH: Has being featured in the "Discover Oklahoma" episode exposed your work to a broader audience?  
RW: It was great exposure. The producer is a dear friend of mine. I met her through Kingfisher Creative and it’s been well over a year and people still recognize me from Discover Oklahoma. 

FH: I guess it was a full-circle moment from being self-conscious about your work to being featured in an episode of Discover Oklahoma?
RW: Yes it really was…..  Me and Marilyn Monroe…. all the same!

The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition provides artist project grants for growing artists’ careers, creative projects and exceptional continuing education. The next application deadline is October 15. Find guidelines and application here

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