The sticky June day in 2014 when Amanda visited East Fork Pottery for the first time, we were all prepared to give her a schooling on our ceramic lineage. She didn't need it; she'd done her research, and had a few things to teach us, too. An eager learner from the start, Amanda approached her apprenticeship with fierce concentration, taking a holistic approach to the study of clay and quickly developing the hand skills needed for throwing production pottery. Today she serves as East Fork's Production Manager, orchestrating the flow of materials as they arrive at the workshop until they're delivered, as finished work, to your porch.
She's currently at work on a series of ceramic sculptures that can be viewed at East Fork Asheville starting Friday, August 18th.Amanda Hollomon-Cook began an apprenticeship at East Fork Pottery in Summer 2014. She's now the workshop's Production Manager. Photo by Mike Belleme.
Connie: Tell us a little bit about the place you're from - what's the vibe? What were the people like in your town? What did you take away from growing up there?
Amanda: I’m from Dacula, Georgia. it is a sprawl of Atlanta and is deeply suburban with a few rural pockets. I rarely go back to the area as it is more and more unfamiliar in so many ways. As it is for many people, I imagine, I took away that I didn't want to live the lifestyle that was conducive to the area. Although, I now see many aspects that I took for granted.
C: What was your first encounter with clay? Did you feel an immediate affinity or was it a slow build?
A: My first encounter with clay in any real sense was at a community studio in Athens, GA called Good Dirt. I was lucky enough to have a couple of really passionate and interesting teachers that pointed me in the right direction. I was certainly hooked off the bat but did not have a good sense of how I would pursue it.
Amanda runs quality control on side plates just out of the kiln. Photo by Mike Belleme.
C: How has your work at East Fork informed or influenced your work outside it?
A: Work ethic is the big one. I'm pretty self-motivated but working at East Fork has really instilled that quality in me, which I appreciate. Also, not to be too precious. I'm quick to re-work a piece that I am not finding pleasing. In some ways, this has been a challenge as I have the tendency to put tight "production" standards on myself. Since I work in my studio before and after work, I can have a hard time switching gears. I want my personal work to have a looseness and immediacy to them and sometimes the habit of production throwing removes that trait. However, I find that grey area between those two modes of thinking can produce something really interesting. So I am trying to embrace the gap between that "gear switch" rather than bridge it, if that makes any sense.
C: What else, besides clay and fellow potters, do you look toward for inspiration? What other materials speak to you? What other non-clay artists are you into right now?
A: Right now, I mainly look at architecture. Brutalism and functionalism particularly. Their heavy, unfussed aesthetic just grabs me. It just shows how pleasing the juxtaposition of simple shapes can be to the eye. I do look at other ceramic sculptors but I look at a lot of concrete or metal sculpture. I am drawn to artists that work in more than one medium and do not limit themselves to a single process. I hope to grow in that way. Gosh, it's hard to name specific people as I look at such a wide spectrum. Some are current, some not. Isamu Noguchi, Eduardo Chillida, Jonathan Waters, Claudi Cassanovas, Jennie Jieun Lee, David Hicks, Del Harrow, Agnes Martin, Jacqueline Lerat, Julia Haft-Candell all come to mind.
C: What's it like working with your husband?
A: We sure do talk about East Fork a lot! I'm sure you and Alex could give us a run for our money on that one though! Working with Thomas is the best. Our jobs are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum which is a good balance. I'm just so happy that we found jobs where we both feel fulfilled and like we contribute to something larger. Not enough people can say that.
C: What feelings were elicited for you when making this work? What feelings are elicited for you when you look at it?
A: As I mentioned, I really enjoy work that is made with materials that are generally seen as more rigid. I like to look at highly refined shapes and structures then suggest those forms using unrefined methods. I like pieces to show process-coil marks, pinching, smudging, all of that is neat to me.
Click here to read an interview with Amanda from July, 2014, shortly after she began working at East Fork.