Artist Spotlight: Nick Kosack

Nick Kosack is currently one of our September Featured Artists. NCC is proud of ceramics as a material, a process, and a community, but it is particularly joyful when we have the opportunity to share regional talent through our global stage. The heart of Nick’s practice is giving life to his ceramic objects.  When he was younger, he had the opportunity to see unfinished statues carved by Michelangelo in Florence. “The figures seemed to me to be pulling themselves out of the stone blocks, being liberated rather than formed by the artist.” He does his part to bring a similar spirit to unformed clay by enlivening the textures and qualities of the material itself. He takes particular delight in highlighting properties not traditionally associated with the 'element' of earth. Learn more through our conversation with Nick.

NCC: Tell us about your work.
NK: I primarily create non-functional sculptural vessels which are finished in a saggar firing. The atmospheric nature of saggar firing paired with organic forms and surfaces attempt to invoke an object that has been formed by natural processes.  

NCC: Where do you make your work?
NK: I work out of Fired Up Studios, located in Golden Valley, MN.

NCC: How long have you been making?
NK: I first began working with ceramics in college but had a hard time keeping up a practice after graduation. For 10 or so years, I managed to throw intermittently with a wheel at home but was unable to achieve much without regular access to a kiln. It wasn’t until 3 years ago (2015) that I became serious about my practice and decided to commit myself to making work.

NCC: What did you do before that? 
NK: For years, I bounced around a variety of minimum/near minimum wage jobs going through a cycle of spending all my time on the job and not making work, quitting in an attempt to start making work again, running out of money and finding a job, etc. I eventually decided to return to school for a career change in environmental science and maybe return to ceramics in the distant future for retirement. [This meandering path left me with a] B.A. in Studio Art from St Olaf College and substantial coursework towards a B.A. in Environmental Science.

NCC: What else do you do to support your practice fiscally? 
NK: I am the Studio Technician for Fired Up Studios.

NCC: What do you love most about making your work?
NK: I love the physicality of making my work. I am a very tactile person and enjoy the feel of the clay and the motion of the wheel. Additionally, I am fascinated by firing and the dynamic of having such a vital stage of the object making process being out of sight and out of reach of the artist.

NCC: What’s the hardest part of your practice?
NK: The hardest part for me is the business of art. I’m not terribly organized and am absolute rubbish at self-promotion. It’s fairly unsexy stuff, but important. In a household where money is tight, making art can feel like a risky investment of time and funds.

NCC: What are your goals for the future of your work?
NK: As far as artistic goals, there are a lot of elements that I would like to explore, but lately, I have been thinking about ways to complicate the vessel form. I would like to play more with compound forms fused together and sculpture that does not sit, but hangs in some way. If we are talking about career goals, financial sustainability and finding a niche where I can grow and make more ambitious work.  

NCC: What do you see as your biggest achievement so far?
NK: At this stage of my career, I’d probably say having my work featured at Northern Clay Center!