Susan Nissman

I’ve been hand-building ceramics for 30+ years. A local mom and potter, Patti Marcus, handed me my first piece of clay back in 1981. We had met in a newly formed baby group. I took to the medium immediately.

My instincts are kind of contra-symmetry, but pro balance. Builders can go off kilter, but still find balance. The building and shaping aspects of working with clay slab vs throwing at a wheel continues to hook me. (Though, lately, I’ve been “throwing” wedges of clay against hard surfaces and getting some interesting results!) I also like to “draw” in the clay before it dries and working with slab provides that canvas. So far, I’ve only worked with high-fire clays and glazes.

Living in the Santa Monica Mountains all these years, surrounded by Mother Nature, I’ve learned how unpredictable nature is: but, like the clay that comes from it, there’s the possibility of something “ah-ha”, maybe even sublime, emerging from that very same unpredictability.

An early childhood memory of mine starts with looking out from the back seat of my parent’s car traveling from some big California valley to the ocean through California’s coastal mountains. The landscape, rolling hills of grass and oaks, with moss hanging from their limbs, submerging into distant box canyons, captivated me. Almost everything I do in clay, functional or not, is evocative of those early, often mysterious, impressions of California wildlands.

I like to make things that people like to look at and maybe get lost in because they evoke a sense of ancient and perhaps archetypal “place” that lives deep within us all. I also like to have fun and am always experimenting with different ideas, so my personal vision is still evolving.