“I’m an illustrator who jumped ship from paper to clay. I love telling stories and getting lost in the characters that come to life.”
In a few words, describe yourself and your practice.
I’m an illustrator who jumped ship from paper to clay. I create characters and environments that echo my own experiences and reactions to our ever changing world. I love telling stories and getting lost in the characters that come to life. They’re both a reflection of myself and the people I love around me. My hope is that they are singular enough to be recognizable, but approachable enough that the audience can see themselves mirrored in the piece.
Is your practice how you support yourself? If not, what else do you do?
I’m working on it! Currently, I supplement my income by working at Lillstreet Art Center at the front desk part time, and I assist classes in the ceramics department.
WHAT IS THE MOST USEFUL TIP OR ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
Don’t neglect the bottom. Every surface of the piece needs to be considered.
When did you start your practice?
It started with an attempt to catch ducks. While at a wedding, when I was maybe 6, I saw some ducks in a canal and wanted to catch one of the ducklings to keep as a pet. After several failed attempts to sneak up on them, I gave up and decided to sculpt some as a consolation. Years later I started using Crayola Model Magic to sculpt memories, things I wanted to happen (lots of couples holding hands), and daydreams. I took the dive into ceramics after finishing college. I had taken classes all throughout my schooling years, and loved being in class with my ceramics professors James Kearns and Yih-Wen Kuo, but stuck with my Illustration degree. I figured if the pull was strong enough, I would find it after school. After moving to Chicago, I got a job at Lillstreet Art Center and being here has made all the difference.
How do you begin your process?
I usually find myself a coffee and pull out a small sketch I did the night before. It isn’t always a sketch of the whole piece, but maybe a texture to incorporate or an emotion I want to convey. I’ll then take those, and after making several vessels decide which would best support the desired outcome. It’s 20% planning and 80% improvisation.
What makes your work unique?
I think a lot of sculptors leave out the environment to a sculptural piece, and I enjoy bringing that aspect to the viewer. I have gotten a lot of comments on the size and detail of my work as well, it takes a moment to register everything you’re looking at.
HOW DOES WHERE YOU LIVE AFFECT YOUR WORK?
I think that the most direct influence of Chicago on my work has been the sense of being overwhelmed, in a good way. The city is a sensory overload, there are so many different characters, different hiding places for everyone. I love all the nooks and crannies and imagining what could be in them!
Who (or what) inspires you ?
The ocean and mountains always get me excited. Living in the midwest my entire life, traveling to these places almost felt like a pilgrimage. They were so different from my normal surroundings, I couldn’t help but fall in love with them.
I’ve found some amazing people around me that are full of inspiration. My friend Tom Bosko has so much excitement for the arts and collaboration, it’s contagious. My friend Jon Pacheco is one of the most kind and selfless people I know, whose main objective is to help others through art. Lastly, my sister, Anne Catrone is one of the hardest working and methodical people I know. She’s sharp, genuine, and unapologetically herself. This list could go one for a whole page, but long story short, my friends and family inspire me everyday to be the best artist I can be.
WHAT ARE SOME CHALLENGES YOU’RE FACING IN YOUR PRACTICE?
I feel a bit like a goldfish, and I think I am ready for a bigger bowl. I want to work on projects that are on a large scale, explore new media, and experiment with different firing methods.
What's your work routine? Do you find it helpful to have a routine?
I have dedicated studio days, but I don’t have a terribly normal routine in the studio, besides grabbing a drink and jumping into work. I like hopping between sculptural and functional work. I usually have a few pieces of each going at the same time so I can continuously keep making. There is a lot of waiting for things to be at the right “dryness” in ceramics.
Are you comfortable sharing all aspects of your process?
I don’t mind showing people my process. There are so many people that I’ve learned from because they’ve been open about their methods of making. It makes for more interesting work in the world!
How would your audience describe you?
An anxious optimist.
NAME THREE ESSENTIAL THINGS IN YOUR STUDIO.
My needle tool with the spade on the back, music, and something tasty to drink! When I have my own private studio, you can bet your butt there will be lots of plants!
What would you be doing if you weren't doing this?
This is sort of a tricky question. Nothing has given me more satisfaction than to make work with my hands. Even though I’m a fairly adaptable person and I could make a lot of things work, I genuinely believe that this is what I am supposed to be doing.
How has your practice changed over time? Where do you see it going?
Although I still make a wide variety of work, there is a more cohesive aesthetic to my work. The dots between my sculptural and functional work are starting to connect. I’m becoming more disciplined about taking my time with each piece, tracking the time it takes to make the work, and completing a thought before moving on to the next idea. I’d like to see them continue to grow into larger narratives. Possibly shift from a small moment in a story, to an all encompassing narrative.