Artist Spotlight: Candice Methe

“I am guilty of romanticizing the past.” 

Candice Methe’s work invokes a slower time, slower processes, and a slower way of life. Her philosophy is a vote for depth over breadth. It seems to be a guiding principle and it seems to be serving her well. We benefit from her methodology via consumption, visual or literally through acquisition, of her forms, which can be monumental odes to hand work and function.

Originally from Falmouth, MA, Methe has been working with clay for twenty years. She has staked her claim in the small town of Red Lodge, MT most recently, where she maintains a full-time studio practice. She has had short-term residencies at the Archie Bray Foundation for Ceramic Arts, Helena, MT and the Red Lodge Clay Center, Red Lodge, MT. She earned her BFA from Northern Arizona University in 2011 and her MFA from University of Minnesota in 2015. In 2016, she was the recipient of Northern Clay Center’s Warren Mackenzie Advancement Award (WMAA). The award from the WMAA allowed her to travel to Ghana, West Africa to learn about traditional clay practices and the painted clay houses of the North. Her journey to Ghana embodied the more intangible spirit of the WMAA and sometimes, the intangible lessons, as Methe reported, “my trip to Ghana has given me the understanding that my practice is universal and that I make art within a common thread and I found a sense of community despite language barriers and oceans. It has also given me the understanding that my work is my own and that I am grounded in my dialog and cannot rely on a place, person, or thing to define my work…I think the greatest impact it had is on my sense of self and given clarity and understanding to the work I make now and where to go from here.”

NCC is pleased to host Methe for her workshop, The Presence of Touch, November 2 – 3. Learn more and register here

We now welcome you to take a deeper dive with Methe as she offers a bit of insight to her practice, her evolution as a maker, and her life. 

CM: I got my start in clay twenty-two years ago when I lived in Colorado. I spent my days snowboarding in the winter and summertime was for mountain biking and skateboarding. I consider myself the queen of odd jobs and I randomly took a position with a ceramic artist where I was hired to package work and deliver orders around Colorado to the many ski areas. As my interest in clay grew I moved on to rolling out slabs and helping with the slump and hump molds for the artist’s majolica work. I moved around quite a bit and eventually I took a wheel throwing class when I lived in Telluride, CO. Although my priority was time outside, I increasingly began spending more and more time in the studio. I became serious about clay when I lived in Durango, CO, and did a work exchange at a place called the Durango Clay Center that was started by Lorna Meaden. Eventually after 10 years of self-education in clay I decided to get a formal education. I received my BFA from Northern Arizona University in 2011 and my MFA from the University of Minnesota in 2015.

Recently I have moved back to Red Lodge, Montana, where I have a small studio in my house. Unfortunately I cannot have a kiln at home but luckily I am able to fire my pieces at the Red Lodge Clay Center. All my work is hand-formed using the coil and pinch method. I really enjoy working this way because it really slows down time and I am able to make decisions and take the form into consideration as I am building. I primarily use a cone 5 black stoneware clay, that I fire in oxidation to cone 3 because of the high amount of iron. For my surfaces I use layers of slip and terra sigillata, which I build up over three firings. After the firing I sand each piece down to reveal the layers and make the surface smooth to the touch. To achieve the line-work in my pieces I will cut the clay apart and put it back together as I go.

NCC: What else do you do for money in addition to making your work?
CM: Since getting my first job at age thirteen, I have often worked two or even three jobs, even with a clay practice. Most recently I have decided to take a huge leap of faith and have committed to becoming a full time, self-supported studio artist. My work is starting to become more visible and I am fortunate to be invited to participate in sales, exhibitions, and teach workshops. After so many years of working for others, it feels like it is time to invest in my practice and myself. 

NCC: What do you love most about making your work?
CM: I love the building of the forms. This part of the process is so full of possibilities, play, and creativity. Soft clay and greenware are so alluring.

NCC: What’s the hardest part?
CM: Having to work a job outside of clay is really hard. It takes energy away from the studio and encroaches on the brain space that is necessary to be creative and productive. Another aspect that is hard for me is repetition. I find that I get really bored with the process if I am making the same form over and over. I try to limit both of those things in my practice.

NCC: What are your goals for the future of your work?
CM: The most important goal I have for my work is that it continues to grow, get stronger, more sophisticated and interesting in both skill and content over time. In the end I want to know that I was able to create the best possible work I could. I would really like to be able to support myself with my craft and become more comfortable with selling my work. 

NCC: What do you see as your biggest achievement so far? 
CM: So far my greatest achievement has been getting a whole kiln load of pots to actually turn out without any loss! Another achievement would be getting to be a part of the Old Church Pottery Sale at Demarest in its 44th and 45th year. Being invited by artists who make such stunning work, that have been in clay for so many years, and being able to show alongside them, is really a fantastic honor. 

NCC: What else are you excited about in your life? 
CM: Travel and all the places clay takes me!

NCC: What art do you look at for eye candy? 
CM: I look at a lot of historical pieces. Mostly Native American, African, and Japanese. I love folk art and outsider art. I have been fortunate to view a fair amount of private collections and pieces in museums. I look at a lot of books and of course the internet is ripe with images and information. I do not limit myself to just clay though, I look at a lot of wood, fiber, and basketry as well. Zulu and Japanese basketry is incredible, carved wood from Africa in all forms, to me, is really exciting!