Artist Spotlight: Peter Ronan, Anonymous Artist Studio Fellow

The Emerging Artist Residency program encompasses two unique Fellowships, designed to provide up to four ceramic artists with an opportunity to be in residence for one year at Northern Clay Center, where they can develop their own work, as well as exchange ideas and knowledge with other ceramic artists.

Peter Ronan is a 2018 Anonymous Artist Studio Fellow. We checked in with him, a third of the way into his residency, to see how things were going in practice. Remember you can apply to be part of the residency program until April 12, 2019. If you have any questions about the program or the application process, please contact Jill Foote-Hutton, Coordinator of Artist Services & Storytelling at jillfootehutton@northernclaycenter.org

NCC: Would you please share how your expectations of the residency have or haven't changed since you started in September?
PR: I moved to Minneapolis and into NCC without ever visiting the city or the studio and knowing nobody in the Twin Cities. I came in knowing at a minimum I would have a space and a stipend to make work with. It has been an easy adjustment to a new city and new studio. I didn't come in with low expectations — it was more that I didn't know exactly what to expect. Overall I'm happy with my decision to come to NCC and live in Minneapolis.

NCC: What are you currently working on in your studio?
PR: I have spent the first three months of the residency building a series of new vessels and slip casting objects. I plan to create a new installation I have been loosely calling "polyamorous relationship." After three months of making, I am just now firing work and hope to have some finished pieces before the new year (assuming things go according to my plan).

NCC: What new questions have evolved in your research?
PR: I have become more interested in objects and vessels that are explicitly queer. There is still a level of discreetness and ambiguity to the work but to me there is now undeniable homoerotic content. I have also become interested in people’s preconceived notions of what a masculine object and feminine object look like. The reason for this is numerous times I have heard people think that my work is my studio mate’s work. I assume it has to do with their preconceived notions of what masculinity and femininity are (masculine = male, feminine = female). 

NCC: Are any future goals revealing themselves yet to you? If so, what are they?
PR: First and foremost, my short-term goal is to glaze everything I have made in the last three months and hope it survives. I am going to start applying to shows once I finish my new body of work (assuming it works out). After that, I am starting to think about residency applications for next year and what the next steps are. 

NCC: How are you managing a balance between the opportunity the residency is providing and a day job?
PR: The balance is the hardest part for me. Working full-time, trying to work in the studio as much as possible, teaching here and there, and pretending to have a personal life is more or less my life. Usually the first thing to go is the pretend personal life. I definitely try to utilize the space and opportunities the residency is providing as much as possible.

NCC: What is the most surprising plus about the residency at NCC and how are you using it to your advantage?
PR: The biggest plus for me has been being able to use my stipend however I want and being able to lab monitor to replenish what I have spent. I used part of my stipend to get a new banding wheel which I build the majority of my work on. It will hopefully last me the rest of my life. Really just the opportunity to have space and some money to make work has been the biggest plus for me. 

NCC: What has been the most unexpected challenge at NCC and how are you devising solutions to make an effective plan to overcome the challenge?
PR: The hardest part for me is figuring out where and how to install work so it can be photographed. I have been thinking about hiring a professional photographer with a studio. I have also been considering doing installations in my room and buying lights. Another challenge for me has been cold hands while working in the studio. I’m thinking about getting fingerless gloves — they would also make me look cool.