Children are often asked what they want to be when they grow up. But sadly, only some of us end up working in the profession we envisioned as kids.
Well, Chris Gustin did.
“In sixth grade, we were asked what we wanted to be when we grew up,” Gustin said. “I wrote ‘pottery man.”’
Today, Gustin is a celebrated and world-renowned studio ceramist and professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts.
Gustin visited Pensacola State College on Feb. 16 to deliver an artist lecture in the Anna Lamar Switzer Center for Visual Arts. The address was in conjunction with the Gulf Coast Kiln Walk Society.
“I want my work to provoke image to the viewer, to suggest something that is just on the other side of consciousness,’’ he said. “I don’t want my pots to conjure up a singular recollection, but ones that change with each glance, with each change of light.”
Gustin was the featured artist for the Gulf Coast Kiln Walk Society’s 2022 and 2023 WoodStoke Festival.
His PSC lecture featured a sideshow of some of his work.
“Chris Gustin’s organic forms not only evoke a sense of familiarity through their reflection of the human form but also encourage a tactile viewing experience with their distinctive and unique surface quality,” said PSC Gallery Coordinator Chelsea Weaver. “Ranging from an intimate and handheld utilitarian scale to powerful and impressive vessels, the works of Chris Gustin invite the audience to engage in dialogue and self-reflection in an inquisitive manner comfortably.”
Gustin became familiar with ceramics at an early age.
His parents managed and co-owned several commercial ceramic factories in Los Angles.
“My childhood was visiting those factories with my dad,’’ he said. “Being a kid in a factory, it’s a playground. I grew up in the 1950s when you had to make the things you wanted to play with. You built your own skateboard, surfboard. That’s what you did.”
He urged artists to follow their intuition in their process and growth.
“If you’re curious enough,’’ he said, “that curiosity will feed for a lifetime. And your work will grow and change with your insights and your own change and growth as a person.”