This was our first time to invite two separate studio artists to combine and present one workshop, and despite being good friends, this was the first workshop that Forrest Middelton and Adam Fieldgave together. They were actually a bit of a comedy show as well as pottery workshop, entertaining their audience of a dozen artists from Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas, Texas, Wisconsin, California and even Alaska. The two were *almost* the odd couple. Forrest working with a messy dark stoneware body while Adam used his pristine porcelain. And Adam is very much about the rules of ceramics, while Forrest would sneakily tell the attendees how to get around the rules. The stories and interactions made the learning that much more enjoyable!
Original Forrest Middelton and Adam Field Workshop Description
In this two-day workshop, potters Adam Field and Forrest Lesch-Middelton will demonstrate methods of working that have led them to create distinct, yet complimentary, bodies of work. Field and Lesch-Middelton share an affinity for pattern and history while incorporating completely different sources, materials, and inspirations into their pots. Field will demonstrate his methods of wheel-throwing porcelain vessels and carving intricate pattern on a variety of forms. Lesch-Middelton will demonstrate the volumetric image transfer techniques he has developed to create his pattern-laden, functional forms. Field’s generous discussions about his time as a potter’s apprentice in Korea, personal aesthetics, and promotion and marketing strategies for the studio potter are certain to encourage individual discovery, growth, and development of fresh ideas. Forrest will also host conversations ranging from setting up a cost-effective studio practice, developing and using silk-screens for image transfer, finding and generating pattern, mapping out and developing form for pattern transfer, and exploring the reduction cooling process he uses to attain the weathered surfaces of his work. There will also be informative discussions and exercises geared towards finding inspiration through personal exploration of one’s own practices both in and out of the studio. Attendees will gain the skills and confidence to create and decorate work in his or her voice.
Adam and Forrest have been friends for 14 years, and have developed parallel careers leading each of them onto successful paths as both artists and educators. Although they live miles apart, Field and Lesch-Middelton often share ideas and learn from one another’s experiences raising families and navigating a delicate work/life balance that includes a healthy support and constructively competitive dialog as both friends and colleagues.
Forrest Middelton Bio
Forrest Lesch-Middelton was raised in both Central Vermont and the Seattle area of Washington state. “Having lived both in the city and in the country, as-well-as the eastern and western United States, I have developed a great appreciation for the social and the solitary influences that have inspired my work .”
At age 14 Forrest began working in clay and immediately found an affinity for the material. Moving back to Vermont at the age of seventeen Forrest spent much of his time traveling New England visiting pottery studios and connecting with the potters he encountered. After graduating high-school he was encouraged by his high school instructor to apply to Alfred University in western New York where he spent the following four years studying clay, glass, and neon.
Following Alfred, Forrest was a resident artist at the Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts followed by a move to Mendocino California where he was a resident artist at The Mendocino Arts Center. During the two years in Mendocino, and in the following year, Forrest spent summers as a guest potter at Orcas Island Pottery a family owned pottery on Orcas Island in Washington State where he honed his skills by making pots daily and re-discovering an appreciation for the solitude and beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Because of the amount of time spent in the studio on Orcas Island, and his connection to the potters lifestyle Forrest often refers to this as the most important period in his career.
Still maintaining strong ties to the community of potters on Orcas Island, Forrest moved back to Northern California and co-founded the Center for Ceramic Arts and Sebastian Ward Gallery in a building which previously housed Trax Gallery and the studios of ceramic artists Sandy Simon, Robert Brady, and Peter Volkous.
From 2003 – 2006 Forrest worked toward his Master of Fine Arts degree at Utah State University where he developed his innovative techniques and unique style under the instruction of professors John Neely, and J. Daniel Murphy.
In 2006, Forrest moved back to northern California where he has started an artist-in-residence program at, and was the ceramics program director of, the Sonoma Community Center. Forrest has taught at various Bay Area colleges and has recently lectured and demonstrated extensively throughout the United States, Including workshops at The Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Syracuse University, University of Alaska, Anchorage, Maryland Institute College of Art, Greenwich house Pottery, the California College of the Arts, and The Northern Clay Center.
Forrest’s pots have been featured on the on the cover of Ceramics Monthly magazine, and recently his architectural tile has won great acclaim, having been featured in The New York Times, Architectural Digest and Luxe Magazine. in 2013 Ceramics Monthly Magazine, and Ceramic Arts Daily chose Forrest as “The Ceramic Artist of the year”. Forrest is currently the sitting president of The Association of Clay and Glass Artists, and lives with his two daughters, and runs FLM Ceramics and Origins Tile in Petaluma, California.
Forrest Middelton Artist Statement
I make work that explores history through the effects global influences have on the craft traditions of various cultures, and I use this as a way to reflect current global themes. My pots are complex in their creation though they still illustrate the intrinsic beauty found in the everyday ceramic object. I use a variety of complex historic patterns as a common language to take the user beyond the utility and hint at the deeper beauty of unfamiliar places. By blending pattern, surface, and form, my goal is to create work that simultaneously elicits a visceral and intellectual response, followed by a contemplation of the work as a whole. If one holds a piece that I have made, my work is complete; if one’s attention is held by that piece, the work is understood.