Artist Spotlight: Brett Freund

Brett Freund has been a regular in the NCC sales gallery and the NCC classroom for a few years now. An unassuming character with a genuine love of the material. We invite you to enjoy a quick Q & A with Brett and hope that his voice informs your experience of his wares in the gallery and then in your home. Not everyone has easy access to their voice and demeanor through written word, but we think Brett delivers on both accounts. We are proud to represent his work and equally pleased that the 2018 McKnight Jury chose him as a Fellow this summer. If you’re intrigued after spending some time with Brett here and with his pots, we encourage you to think about enrolling in one of his classes this fall or winter. May you enjoy the magic too!

Learn Brett's secrets to molds, casting, and more on Saturday, October 6, 12 - 4 pm: https://store.northernclaycenter.org/intuitive-construction.html

NCC: Where do you make your work?NCC: Tell us about your work.
BF: I make geometric porcelain vessels inspired by crystal formations, architecture, and graffiti. They are always functional but design and intent is what's important to me. I've used throwing, hand building, and 3D printing to help me create prototypes that I then slip cast parts with to create conglomerates of form.

BF: Most of my making happens at home. Being able to work in the studio and not have to sacrifice time for a home cooked meal is important to me. Whenever I feel the need to make, I can do so no matter what time of day.

NCC: How long have you been making?
BF: Ceramics first appeared on my schedule my sophomore year of high school. It wasn't until I was 21 that I started taking it seriously. I always tell people ten years but it has been longer than that now. Let's just say ten years.

NCC: What did you do before that?  
BF: As a kid I really liked playing baseball. Most people wouldn't know that about me, because I never developed an interest in sports besides playing. If anything it taught me to develop skill through repetition. As I got older, I spent a lot of time playing music with friends that I had known for most of my childhood. I only listen to music now. 

NCC: What's your background in?
BF: I have an undergraduate degree and a masters that are both in ceramics, it's addictive. 

NCC: What else do you do for money in addition to making your work?
BF: I teach a class one night a week at Northern Clay Center, and I also have a job making oral crowns.

In many ways, it’s like making tiny pottery that allows people to chew food and, more importantly, have a beautiful smile. Not a lifetime goal, but an enjoyable skill set.

NCC: What do you love most about making your work?
BF: The ability to surprise yourself is what I enjoy. There's always an element of surprise when you put a piece into a kiln and pluck it back out when it's done, but that’s an immediate fix. Being a person, making work, and seeing how your environment is influencing your work unexpectedly is exciting.

NCC: What’s the hardest part?
BF: The hardest part is all the other stuff that gets you to the present moment. The making happens in the present moment. I've enjoyed traveling for school, residencies, and have met wonderful people along the way.

The gift are those experiences in the past that influence my work.

I dislike mixing glazes.

NCC: What are your goals for the future of your work?
BF: I'm more concerned with having a career of making that is long, rather than wildly successful. I guess both would be good though!

Currently I've been motivated by photographing my work and social media. Maybe that doesn't sound exciting but in my opinion everything clay related is exciting. I hope to do more iterations of current work soon to keep the making process fun.

NCC: What do you see as your biggest achievement so far?
BF: Being a 2018 McKnight Artist Fellow was a huge achievement and is allowing me to expand my ideas. In 2016 I was in a group show at Barneys New York, which was wonderful and very unexpected.

The other day I was able to send a few pots to a person I knew years ago who has their own gallery now. Sometimes little things like that can feel as good as bigger achievements.

NCC: What else are you excited about in your life?
BF: I've only lived in Minnesota 4 years now, and I don't know if everybody else would agree, but I'm looking forward to another winter. The cold snowy nights are magical and sometimes even romantic.

NCC: What art do you look at for eye candy?
BF: The work I look at I think of as being an electric modernism. Work that is object and process driven over conceptual, but not lacking intent. Work that is sometimes simple but messy and often with color, but not always.

I look at art and listen to music in a very similar way. It's not different in my head.

I'm always a sucker for hints of process in the work. Drips and splatters are great.

What I love about a vessel is that it is easily approached by anyone.  

Learn Brett's secrets to molds, casting, and more on Saturday, October 6, 12 - 4 pm: https://store.northernclaycenter.org/intuitive-construction.html