Artist Spotlight: Brett Freund, McKnight Artist Fellow

Brett Freund’s work incorporates color, sketching, and repetition. He intuitively constructs from slip cast parts. The result is a single product that communicates preciousness, but is manipulated with a chaotic energy. Although he essentially uses prototypes and reproducible parts, he creates decorative objects with personal, interior spaces.

Freund is a 2018 recipient of the McKnight Artist Fellowship for Ceramic Artists and NCC is proud to be part of his professional and creative journey.

The McKnight Artist Fellowship supports outstanding Minnesota ceramic artists who identify with any methodology: functional, sculptural, relational, all techniques are welcome. The intent of this program is to recognize and support mid-career artists living and working in Minnesota who demonstrate a sustained level of accomplishment, commitment, and artistic excellence. Two $25,000 grants will be awarded in 2020. We will be accepting applications until May 22, 2020 at 5 pm. If you have any questions about the program or the application process, please contact Kyle Rudy-Kohlhepp, Director of Learning & Artist Services at   

Freund generously shares a bit about his fellowship year below, and illuminates how the award will continue making an impact on his practice long after the award year concludes.

NCC: Would you please share how your expectations of the fellowship have or haven't changed since receiving the award? How has it impacted your approach to your practice?
BF: I made a lot of choices immediately by updating my digital technology in order to start connecting my work with people online better. On Instagram, I've been posting images of my work using old film cameras to help make my feed feel more unique and I've been firing once a month for my own online sales, selling out regularly.

NCC: What new questions have evolved in your research?
BF: Now that a few of my immediate goals have been met I'm starting to think about adding more variety of form to my library of molds. Smaller cup pieces have worked really well as an object that is easily purchased and shipped to customers. I need something larger in scale that is more of an exhibition piece. I'd like to accomplish this goal by the spring.

NCC: What is the most surprising plus about the McKnight Fellowship Award and how are you using it to your advantage?
BF: Northern Clay Center has always been a welcoming and supportive environment but after receiving this grant everybody from the office to the gallery has been exceedingly helpful and encouraging. It has made me realize how important they are to my practice and they've invited me to exhibit at APF which couldn't be at a better time. I figured out, just for fun, that if I used this grant to pay for my firing fees at NCC I could fire there every month for over a decade. Not my intentions though.

NCC: What has been the most unexpected challenge of your award year thus far and how are you devising solutions to overcome the challenge? 
BF: This grant for me is a long distance run. I want to make ceramics for as long as possible and have the financial capability to achieve my ideas. I'm not at a point in my life where I can own my own house but when I get there I'd like to have some grant left so I can get a kiln. I just don't have the space right now. I've decided I don't want to make any big changes in my work since sales are going well. Most of my effort is in making the work, using the grant for materials/firings, and putting the profits from my sales into my savings. I have had ceramic opportunities in the past that I turned down because of the cost, but now I'm free to say yes to any opportunities in the future. This grant has given me wiggle room.

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