A ceramic young girl thoughtful on a table among her books, billowing clouds drifting in a summer’s sky with packages hanging from it: two of the many pieces that ceramics artist Holly Curcio has created. Her visual artistry replete with snips of humor and an undertone worn and textured gravity invites viewers to find the stories that these whimsical pieces are telling. Holly graduated from Rockport High School and moved on to UMass for her BFA and then to Arizona State for her MFA. She has been featured in Ceramics Monthly and has had numerous awards, residencies, and commissions of her works.
Here are 8 questions with Holly Curcio:
Who or what influenced you in becoming a ceramic artist?
I grew up in an environment that supported art making. My mom was into the arts. She would always be doing some sort of knitting, crocheting or beading and when we went to the beach she’d set up an easel with oil paints. At some point she worked for a magazine where I remember playing around the office with all the fonts and tapes and cutting and pasting (before graphic design was on computers!). We went to the Museum of Fine Arts a lot. My sister was into art too. It all seemed pretty normal to me.
I was really shy in 8th grade when we moved to Rockport, so art making became a sort of escape. The art room was my hang out spot. I took various art classes in town, like oil painting, water color, drawing and pottery. By the time I went to college I thought of myself as a painter. I decided to major in ceramics though. Ceramics gave me technical challenges to tackle, and surprises.
What creatively inspires and motivates you in your work?
I need to say how I feel through the work. It’s my way of trying to figure out life. In the process I get to focus on things that interest me. I work really intuitively and have grown to trust some uncertainty in the process. It tends to start with an image in my head backed up with an emotion. There can be a lot of time in the ceramics process between building and firing things, that I often let my ideas change as I’m working. When I was at UMass I remember Chris Gustin saying “intuition is based on knowledge”. Another thing that stuck with me is my painting teacher Bryan McFarlane saying, “it doesn’t matter how you get there, as long as you get there”.
What are some of the influences for your current work?
Lately I’ve been thinking about book art and three dimensional still life.
Early on I was drawn to the decorative patterns of artists like Klimt, Antoni Gaudi, the color sense of Nabis painters: Edourd Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard and the strong sketchy line quality of Giacometti drawings. When I lived in California I was into the figurative art scene there. Robert Charland, Arthur Gonzalez and Margaret Keelan have a poetic presence to their figurative ceramics. They were also getting ceramics off the pedestal and onto the wall, sharing a space with paintings. I’m drawn to the tactile works of Eva Hesse, Judy Pfaff, Louise Bourgeois, mixing materials like rubber, plastic, string, fabric. I could lose track of time in Asian markets just looking at packaging, or pacing thrift store isles oogling over old stuff.
What is your greatest fear?
I’ve had reoccurring dreams that the breaks won’t work on my truck and my feet can’t reach the pedals.
Where do you feel pottery is going?
It seems like we’re all working with the medium on some collective conscious level, like monkeys on different islands who start peeling their bananas the same way. The art historians can figure that one out.
What music are you listening to?
M. Ward, Andrew Bird, Bon Iver, Flaming Lips… I love these guys, but need new music!
What are you reading?
The World of Edward Gorey
What role does Rockport play in your work?
After undergrad I spent a couple of years figure drawing at Rockport Art Association, and studied drawing with Debbie Clarke. Since my parents still live there, it is a place I return to every year to visit. After moving around several times in the last ten years it still gives me a sense of home.
To learn more about Holly Curcio visit:
On the web at: http://hollycurcio.com/
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