Brett Freund investigates patterns of aesthetics and symbols in order to produce a mash-up of form and imagery by exploring the decorative nature of the highbrow and surplus of popular culture. His work reflects on definitions of preciousness and value; how does an object qualify itself as being important? Is it rare like a diamond? Does it take time to grow like a crystal or is it a symbol that references status or identity?
Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Brett has studied and traveled extensively throughout the United States. After a residency at St. Petersburg Clay Company in Florida, Brett received his MFA from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and later was awarded the Lormina Salter Fellowship from Baltimore Clayworks. Chosen as the 2012 Emerging Artist by Ceramics Monthly he exhibits his work nationally.
PC: What was the game changing moment in your life that made you realize you wanted to pursue ceramics?
Brett: I was first introduced to ceramics during high school. It was one of the few things that I felt I did well. Later, in college when I decided I was going to pursue this passion, I realized I couldn’t cut corners and had to figure out how to successfully execute certain skills. I always wanted to do something creative and clay was the thing that stuck.
PC: Do you remember the first time you introduced yourself as an artist to someone other than your family or friends?
Brett: I don’t remember the first but I do remember being bashful about it for a long time. Part of it was getting to a point where I felt my work was my own before sharing it with others.
PC: When have you been most satisfied as an artist in your life?
Brett: Sometimes it’s personal accomplishments that happen when I’m alone in my studio or goals met that might be measured in “career” terms that I find satisfying. I always put a lot of pressure on how much more I need to do but feel relieved to know I’ve clocked in a lot of hard work. That last part gives me the most satisfaction.
PC: Where do you draw your inspirations? Blogs/ Magazines/Nature/other artist.
Brett: I spend hours each evening researching what other people are making but try not to stop at ceramics. I’m addicted to images and websites like Tumblr or Instagram. I’m always looking for the unexpected. At the moment I enjoy Paul Wackers work immensely. I read the objects in his still life paintings as familiar postwar ceramics and minimalist sculptures in a new and refreshing way. Some of my favorite pieces are his interior fantasy art collections that I could only dream of as being real. I like playing around with the idea of decorative arts and precious objects. Instead of referencing highbrow aesthetics I’m using precious stones/minerals to embrace a body of work that fits to my own tastes
PC: If you grew up in a different culture, what would it be?
Brett: That’s a tough one. It would be nice to grow up in a culture that promotes exploration and failure as a tool for discovery opposed to memorizing the correct answers.
PC: If you had six months with no obligations or financial constraints, what would you do with the time?
Brett: I would probably spend all of my time making more work while not worrying about how late into the evening I go. There are a lot of creative people that I have worked closely with that I think about. It would be fun to have a space where we could all hangout again and create.
PC: Room, Car or studio…what do you clean first?
Brett: It’s hard for me to relax without my room being clean first. I also maintain a studio in my apartment so that always comes second. I think I’m more organized than actually clean.
PC: What's your next career move?
Brett: Besides some pieces I have filed away in my head, I really want to reach as wide as an audience as possible. Craft, design and fine art all seem to have their own little bubbles of community. I’d like to have the opportunity to be part of all of them.
PC: Briefly explain the your process behind these pieces.
Brett: All of my work is created from porcelain slip cast parts. These parts are cut and reassembled in ways that result in slightly different compositions. I allow my hand to be very evident in the final piece. When making surface decisions about color and glazes I am drawn to outcomes that aren’t easily predictable.