When I was curating for the Union Art Gallery I met an exceptional artist who was also a student at UWM. I purchased one of her beautiful clay sculptures titled Queen of Hearts, and it’s still on display in my living room–it’s one of my favorite pieces. Korin has since moved from Milwaukee to Portland, where she is currently taking over as the owner of Radius Art Studio. Working primarily in clay, Korin creates a variety of sculptures ranging from utilitarian flatware with an artistic edge to beautiful figurative work. She also quilts, designs clothing and costumes, works in collage and printmaking, and performs in drag shows.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I’ve had my hands in just about all the artsy crafty things you could imagine. Although I work in a variety of mediums, my greatest love is clay. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin with my BFA in Ceramics in 2007. I currently do all of my clay work out of a studio in the Industrial Southeast neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. I have a private studio within a larger building known as Radius Community Art Studio. I also teach classes there and help fire the kilns. I am currently in the process of taking over the whole studio from the current owners.
How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?
I have been involved with Radius since shortly after I moved to Portland in 2008. I started as a monthly partner, which means working in the shared space and keeping all your tools and work on your designated shelf space. I am a bit of a space hog, so I moved into one of the private studios as soon as one opened up. I have much more room to work on multiple projects and can also store my books and everything I use for my class demos. I enjoy working in a community studio where I get to interact with other artists, but also enjoy having a private space within it that I can hide out if I need to.
Are there any kind of rituals you do before you start creating, like making a cup of tea, meditating, or going on a walk?
It probably would be good to have tea or take a walk or meditate before I worked. But honestly, at this point, I just try and make sure I have a plan for exactly what I am going to work on while I am in the studio. My life is so hectic and full that I need to make the most efficient use of the time I have for art making. I keep a sketch book full of lists of projects to finish, things to stock for stores, etc. When making stuff starts to feel like “work”, I will allow myself a few studio sessions to just play and make things without intention or planning. This can be refreshing, and can also help me discover new directions I want to go with my art. But these days, more often than not, I’m working on things to fill etsy orders, commissions, and chugging along on a couple long term projects.
Is there anything you like to listen to while you’re working?
Since the studio is a shared space, I often don’t get much say in what is on the radio while I’m there. I must say I hear more reggae and jam bands than I care to. I’ve gotten pretty good at just tuning things out and focusing on my work if I need to. When its my turn to choose the music, I usually listen to upbeat music that makes me feel energized and motivated to keep working. Especially if its late at night. Sometimes things get weird and there’s a lot of dancing and laughing and singing while we work. Occasionally, we have quiet hours without any music or radio, and this can be nice too.
Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
I have a few large photo collages on my wall. My friends and life outside the studio is what inspires my work. I often find myself working long hours alone, so it’s nice to bring a little reminder of my friends and family into the studio. Oh, and my dog is a really important part of my life in the studio. He is always by my side keeping me good company and acting like he owns the place.
What would you say is the most useful tool in your studio?
This sounds cliche, but my most valuable tools are my hands. Sure I use tools, but really I do a lot of work just with my hands and nothing more. When I do use tools, they aren’t even anything special, really. Some wooden sticks, a sponge, a few kitchen utensils and a couple dentist tools is basically what fills my entire toolbox. If i woke up in the middle of nowhere without anything but a bag of clay and my hands, I could still find a way to make work.
If you had a couple hundred dollars to improve your space, what would you do?
I’d need a little bit more than a couple hundred, but one thing I really want to buy for our space is a pug mill (for recycling clay). Recycling clay by hand is kind of a pain.
What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
You don’t need anything fancy. Just make space. Even if its in your house, your closet, or your backyard. Even if its only temporary. Set up your things there, and then dedicate some time to being there. If you are feeling stuck or uninspired, just sit there and read some books or artblogs or something. You don’t have to be making work to be working. Just sketching, brainstorming or researching is enough. In my experience, there is space everywhere, the hard part is making time.
Thanks, Korin! Love the new work 🙂