My research focuses heavily on Silk Road traditions where Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cultures where influenced by Chinese porcelain that was being traded throughout the region from 900 AD onward. These pots have a playful energy that comes from copying objects that represent wealth and status. As a kid, I saw old fabric go through a similar process as it was repurposed into vibrant quilts that were both practical and highly decorative. By blending floral motifs used in Appalachian quilting with the decorative language of historical ceramics, I work to create new hybrid patterns that enliven the surfaces of teapots, pitchers, and dinnerware. The forms are made from a rich terra cotta clay, which is covered in white slip before being carved and decorated with translucent glazes. Much like the Silk Road potters I attempt to elevate the status of my earthenware, giving it value through multiple layers of intense decoration.
Ben Carter is a studio potter, educator, and social media enthusiast based in Helena, MT. He received his BFA in ceramics/painting from Appalachian State University and his MFA in ceramics from the University of Florida. His professional experience includes being an artist-in-residence at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, MT and Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass, CO, and the Education Director of the Pottery Workshop in Shanghai, China. He has lectured and exhibited widely in the United States, Canada, China, Australia, and New Zealand. He was named 2016 Ceramic Artist of the Year by Ceramics Monthly and Pottery Making Illustrated. In addition to his studio work he is the creator/host of the Tales of a Red Clay Rambler podcast, where he interviews artists about their craft, creativity, and lifestyle. He has authored a full-length book, Mastering the Potter’s Wheel, published by Voyageur Press in 2016.