Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Instructor Introduction: Corinne Peterson

Please tell us a little about yourself; your name, background, education, and a fun fact or two.

I’m Corinne Peterson, handbuilding teacher of Dreams, Myths, Stories at Lillstreet. I grew up on a Minnesota farm, among other things taking note of a slippery clay bank near the house and exploring the insides of field stones. When my sons were teenagers, I went to University of Illinois Chicago to earn my MSW and embarked on a career as a psychotherapist.

How long have you been working with clay and how did you get started?
In 1986, dreams about clay objects led me to take a class at Lillstreet. I had no product in mind, but was curious why I had dreamed about clay. I often built objects to further explore my dreams.

What are your influences, both inside and outside of the clay world?
My first influences were the teachers and studio members of Lillstreet. I especially liked the textures and narratives of Lisa Harris’s and Phil Schuster’s sculptures and the off-beat grace and colors of Eric Jensen’s hand-built functional ceramics. I visited the Art Institute, the Oriental Institute, Field Museum and art galleries in Chicago to see all I could of current and ancient ceramics. I was excited to realize how clay objects and writing in clay gave us so much knowledge of past societies, their myths and stories. Currently, a strong influence is old pillars and walls, how their textures, materials, and colors give clues to their history, and what they might reflect of the human psyche.

Do you sell your work? If so, how can one find it?
I sell my work through studio contacts, exhibits, art consultants and my website, , sadly out of date, while I build one I can manage myself. I’ve just completed two commissions, and have also worked on numerous clay tile murals through association with many different groups, especially Chicago Public Art Group. You can see them throughout the city. The nearest to Lillstreet is on Stockton School at Montrose and Beacon, and the largest is in the Roosevelt and State CTA station.

What advice can you give to students of the ceramic arts?
I got my best advice at a Jeff Oestrich clay workshop at Lillstreet in 1987. I wanted to take clay more seriously, but was afraid of what a studio of my own would cost me. Would I be so worried about making work to sell that I’d lose my joy in clay? When someone asked Jeff how he determines what the market wants, he quoted another clay artist as saying, “You make what you love, and convince others they want it!” “Of course”, I thought, and took courage. I pursued my passion wholeheartedly–soon in a group studio, and eventually in a Lillstreet studio of my own.

How do you spend your time when not working with clay?
Time not working with clay is taken up with family and friends, enjoying nature, reading and looking for ways to move my art out into the world, so there will be room in my studio to make more.

Any parting words?
For me, clay is a doorway into my own soul. It gives me a way to explore my inner life and recover a deeper and more vital connection to myself and to all of life.


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