Rebecca May Verrill | Episode 825
Rebecca May Verrill is a Maine native and has regularly been working with clay since the late 90s. Rebecca received her MFA in Ceramics from SUNY New Paltz in 2013 and has taught in a variety of settings including K12 schools, community college, as well as workshops in studios and craft centers across the country. Rebecca exhibits her work regionally and nationally through shows, galleries and through her website. She maintains her studio practice in Portland, Maine
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Do you make a piece at the wheel with an end in mind or do you approach the finished thrown piece and see what it tells you it wants to be?
Well, I’ll make a series of forms just knowing that I’ve got these canvases to create whatever surface I want. I feel like my surface design is very intuitive, like building up the collage, as you mentioned. So I will make the form in mind and I will have a series of cutouts that are possibly around that size, but I don’t always know exactly what I am going to…how I lay out the composition until I get it all laid out in front of me, all the pieces to choose from. It’s kind of like a little smorgasbord of fresh cut outs.
Do you try to chase down a set of themes in your work?
Yeah, I mean you will probably see that there’s a lot of plant growth themes throughout my work and I am always working and inspired by plants growing through cracks in the pavement and shadows, you know, the change and growth I feel like is consistent throughout it. But I want it to appear fresh for the same reason I mentioned that I don’t really want to use Tyvek, there’s this freshness, this contemporariness where it feels fun and cheerful. that I am going for.
Is it difficult to know when to stop adding to a piece?
Sometimes. I do have the tendency to, you know, decorate the bejezus out of it. An amazing friend at the studio will be like, Ah, ya, no. Stop now. (laughter) We all can use our studio buddies to keep us in check. You know, you got to do the whole shebang before you learn to dial it back. Less maybe is more.
You mentioned that it has to be fun for you. So how much play do you allow yourself to have in exploring new ideas with your work?
Gosh, I really want it all to be fun. So I don’t know maybe I am more likely to try a different color combo. Even with a series of cups I usually start with cups as a warm up. I have a dozen of them or so at once and I will try a similar theme but then even within that it’s through the repetition that you find that there’s just more opportunity to expand on that also.
How often are you considering the negative space in terms of the overall composition of the piece?
That’s a good question. I like to think of the positive and the negative space as equally as important, you know, you don’t want to crowd something out where you can’t find those places for your eye to rest. But I am using both the positive and the negative with my cutouts so I think, I don’t know if my brain is just working differently or I am thinking in terms of negative space but I am thinking backwards, they are basically print techniques at that point. So in order to get the positive I have to use the negative because it is very much a stencil process.
You mentioned earlier you grew up in the first eleven years of your life without electricity. Could you go back to that and live another eleven years without electricity?
Sounds great. Can there be wifi? (laughter)
Not without electricity!
Oh, I don’t know. It’s a nice idea but I think we’ve evolved a little bit further, I think that having the internet is kind of a good feature.