Ceramic Artist Laura McIndoo, mixed media specialist Lynda Burch and me, bead artist Mary Ellen Merrigan, collaborate to present a studio tour stop during the 16th annual Sandia Heights Artists Studio Tour, September 14-15, 2019. I spoke with Laura about creativity and her work.
What does creativity mean to you?
Sometimes I feel that I am not as ‘creative’ as others, but rather ‘inspired.’ I spend a lot of time looking at art and patterns, from everything to Pinterest to books on ancient patterns found in Greek artifacts or Spanish tiles. I spend time soaking up these images, colors, shapes, and patterns, and then when I’m ready, I head into my studio and see what comes out. Usually, it’s a combination or variation of something that inspired me, but with my own twist or take on it. When I’m in my studio, time seems to stand still. I have a lot of other work to do for my jobs, so my time in the studio is a cherished and necessary time for me to focus on myself and my art, rather than my job. Making time to devote to my art means that I only do what inspires me. I usually don’t take commissions or put pressure on myself to produce a lot of work for other people. What I choose to make is what I really want to make. I think that leads to better work.
What kind of art focus did you have as a child?
I grew up in a family of artists. I assumed it was normal to have an art studio in the house. I’ve dabbled in most art forms – drawing, painting, printmaking, calligraphy, batik, and finally ceramics. It took me until college to realize that clay could hold my attention longer than the other art forms, and I decided to take a pottery class. There were many times since then that I was unable to do pottery, due to a lack of access to a studio, but it has always been a part of my life. When I was living overseas and unable to work with clay, I was constantly visiting museums or historical places and noticing the ceramics. Once we built a studio for me in our home here in Albuquerque, I was finally able to devote time to my hobby. Since then I have learned a lot about the craft and have become more versatile in my styles and techniques.
How has social media marketing increased your visibility in the world?
I have a Facebook page and an Instagram for my studio – Redbud Pottery. I’m also a member of a few online forums and groups where we share our work, tips, techniques, etc. I’ve learned a lot from these groups, and it’s also affirming to post your work on social media and have something go viral. However, I don’t have a proper website. Sometimes I sell on Etsy, but I basically limit my social media to Facebook and Instagram. Since I am not a full time potter, I don’t have the time to commit to managing a website and my production. So, I’m about as visible as I want to be, for now.
What artists most impact you/your work/and your future ideas for your art?
Growing up in New England, it was Georgia O’Keeffe, actually! I loved her lines and zooming-in on tiny details in flowers. In college, I studied abroad in Granada, Spain. As a student, we had free access to the Alhambra, where I would go to do my homework. Instead of homework, I spent months drawing the intricate patterns of the Moorish tiles over and over again until I memorized them! After college, I lived in Poland for five years, where I was constantly studying the architecture, art, paintings on buildings, filigree ironwork, art nouveau stained glass – everything was inspiring to me. Recently I was inspired by a trip to Lanzarote by their resident artist, Cesar Manrique, whose sculpture and art remind me of Picasso. In the future, I would like to keep honing my pottery skills to be able to incorporate ideas from my travels into my art more.
Give me an example of a time when stretching to create birthed something unexpected in your life or your work.
For several years, I was a designer for Kiwi Industries, a local children’s clothing company. I was approached by Sesame Street and given a license to create a line for them. While the license was given to me based on my previous designs, I was suddenly in a place where I needed to create under pressure. I was expected to come up with something new, innovative, and up to their standards. I started playing around with images and colors, not knowing if I would be able to create something good enough. I modernized the characters’ faces, and paired them with the characters’ names in other countries, and called the line “Sesame Around the World.” It was a hit!
What do you want as your legacy in art?
One thing I love about pottery is that it’s functional, as well as beautiful. I would love for people to use handmade pottery everyday in their lives – whether it’s a new favorite coffee mug, a planter that sits on their desk that they look at everyday, or a fruit bowl in the center of their table. I feel that the things that we own should mean something to us. I want to be able to give people more everyday beauty in their homes and lives.
What inspires you as an artist?