Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dominica: Get Ready!

My new home: The island of Dominica. This is where I will be living, creating, and learning.
Andy, my fiancé, is there now. His pictures and stories are getting me stoked for our year of adventure. Its not going to be easy in some ways but one thing is for sure: it will be an adventure!

This fabulous video by Rick Moore gives a great feel of the island. And Rasta Moses has some interesting things to say. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Owen Mortensen: Nature.

The time lapse segment at the end is awesome!


Friday, November 15, 2013

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Video: Svend Bayer

If you are curious about the full pottery process and the life of a full time potter, watch this 20 minute video. 

"I think we're kind of dinosaurs, really... heading for distinction... Interest in that horrible word tradition isn't being reinforced."

"Your technique, it's only there to help you. In itself it's nothing. It can in fact hinder you."


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Alexandria Film Festival

From the Festival Chair of the Alexandria Film Festival: 
The 7th Annual Alexandria Film Festival starts NOVEMBER 7, and it will be the biggest in our history!
We’ll be showing more than 60 films and bringing more than 30 filmmakers and other special guests to discuss their works during our four-day festival, Nov. 7-10. Feature films, documentaries, shorts, foreign films, local artists—we have something for every taste.
Visit our website for a full schedule and list of venues, and buy your tickets in advance online to save. We expect many events will sell out, so don’t delay!

Selected highlights:
A CELEBRATION OF FOOD AND SUSTAINABILITY, our opening night event sponsored by Mom’s Organic Market at the Old Town Theater. A feast of six films—filling and thought-provoking.
A CONVERSATION WITH BENH ZEITLIN, director of the Oscar-nominated BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILDZeitlin will appear via Skype for a Q&A on Nov. 9 following a screening of two of his shorts GLORY AT SEA and I GET WET.
ASS BACKWARDS, a lighthearted comedy co-written by and starring one of Alexandria’s own—T.C. Williams High graduate and former Saturday Night Live cast member Casey Wilson. Her dad will be on hand to discuss her childhood and early career at this D.C. premiere ahead of nationwide release.
SPENCER, a romantic comedy that follows the travails of Spencer Baum, an aspiring filmmaker trying to make his first movie in Brooklyn. Imagine what Woody Allen would be like if he were 26 in 2013 with a Canon 5D. Director Geoff Lerer plus members of the cast will be on hand.
PIED PIPER is a satirical folk tale of a simple laundryman rumored to have acquired his beloved donkey’s brain in a freak accident. He soon becomes the most popular—and feared—hero of his time. Director Vivek Budakoti and writer/producer Rajita Sharma are traveling from India to attend.
DARK NIGHT SHOWCASE I AND II. Late-night programming Friday and Saturday nights at the Lyceum of mystical, amusing, mysterious and macabre shorts.
AWARDS SHOWCASE AND CLOSING RECEPTION. See the films that judges and audiences selected for top honors, then attend a closing reception to fete the winners. Special ticket pricing for this event includes the reception.

We look forward to seeing you at the Alexandria Film Festival next week!
Patti North
Festival Chair
Alexandria Film Festival

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bernard Leach and Striking a Balance

Pottery has an endless array of subjects to explore, from chemistry to structural proportions to philosophies behind creation. I think the most intriguing part of functional pottery is it’s ability to connect the artist, the material, and the user. The marriage of function and beauty in pottery demands a sincere awareness of and commitment to reality from the artist. 

Bernard Leach 
I have mentioned Bernard Leach before and have been thinking about his journey recently. Bernard Leach was a British potter who, after a trip to Japan, brought a new energy for pottery back to England and eventually America. His ceramic work, books, and lectures inspired the emergence of studio potters across the West. He brought bits of Eastern thought into a Western mindset, something intriguing if we seek to marry community and tradition with individualism and new frontiers. Leach says, “We cannot all be like a star of the films. No, there are stars born, but there will never be many. We do not need to be a star to make beauty.” 

In this vein, Leach is also keen to promote the value in making repeat work, similar to Hans Rookmaaker’s value in perspiration, saying that no art is instant; it comes from long hard work, practice, and repetition. It is not merely 'good genes.' Leach demands a balance both in the artist and in the pot. He demands thought behind every action, analyzing the clay, the foot, the form, and more.
“We are searching for a balanced form of self expression, and potting is one of the few activities today in which a person can use his natural faculties of head, heart, and hand in balance. If the potter is making utensils for use – simple bowls, pitchers, mug and plates – he is doing two things at the same time: he is making ware that may give pleasure in use, which provides one form of satisfaction to the maker, and he is traveling in the never-ending search for perfection of form, which gives a different gratification. As these two activities come together and the potter is at one with the clay, the pot will have life in it.” 
To use my new arts management lingo, that "pleasure in use" is rather like 'external marketing' or thinking about the user, while the "perfection in form" is like 'internal marketing' or thinking about your personal standards. We can't get stuck on just one or the other. As usual, it is about striking a balance.

by Sarah Coffin
How can we take these practical ideas of non-star seeking external and internal balancing into our thought processes? The idea of thinking of others just as much as we think of ourselves is quite counter-pop-cultural (New term. Just coined. Spread the word.). As I embark on a year or so to another culture (Commonwealth of Dominica, West Indies), I look forward to seeing how this move will affect my professional and personal direction, my artwork, and my outlook. That connection of artist, material, and user in pottery is one that I hope to find in Dominica as well... perhaps not in ceramics per say... but we'll see what I find or what finds me. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Launching Pad: ready to fire!

Last January I embarked on a wild journey, delving into worlds I've never seen and certain subjects I never thought I'd study. Come December, my Arts Management (read: business and nonprofit management for the arts) Masters Program at George Mason University will come to an end and I will officially be a master. The practicality of this program has spurred in me a great sense of responsibility with the material I've learned. This is a launching pad. This is gathering with the intent to produce.

This semester, my last one, I am a management intern at Art at the Center, a small community art studio. I have the privilege of working with the founder and director, Kathryn Coneway, who built this wonderful community space. She wants to grow, offer adult classes, tweak her marketing, and build a stronger foundation. It is such a pleasure to really have something to offer and to see how my studies play out practically as I work.

Besides interning at this studio, I get to teach! I am teaching drawing to teens and adults. I taught K-8 art and art history for about 4 years but that was a few years back. I am excited to step back into that role and teach people how to see. Just like an instrument, drawing and seeing can be taught and must be practiced.

The biggest change of the semester is after graduation... At the end of December I am getting married! While that is a wild story of its own, it has implications that play out in a big way on my next steps. After the graduation and wedding in December I will move to the West Indies to join my beau as he conquers medical school on an island in the middle of the ocean.


Thats right. Other than being in love and getting to spend my life with a kind and incredibly supportive guy, I am so excited for the artistic opportunities presented here. The island is small and wild and full of beautiful natural inspiration. Making artwork down there is definite. I've started to make connections with other makers down there and possibly galleries and a museum. We'll see what actually pans out. [If you know anyone on Dominica, message me!]

I am hoping that this means I will get the opportunity to be able to share, once again, the journey of an artist and making art much more accessible to you.

While making has been limited, I have had the chance to make a few things recently. Here are some of my recent pieces...

Old etching instructional book pages and a charcoal drawing of a cairn.

Some porcelain vases. 

A large commissioned piece made from the client's extra wedding invitations. Its a topographical map of where they got married! 

Details of that same piece. 

Another shot. 

A large commissioned piece for a wine wall. 

Porcelain tiles, wood base, and wire hanger. "Wine is sure proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy,"

A timeline for my fiancé's newsletter. The places a tools of the last few years of his life and the next steps. He filled this in with information. It looked so cool!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A New Semester of Visual Notes

Another one in the series... (1, 2, 3, 4)

The funny thing about these is that it was almost always something in class that triggered the "note." The crazier the professor, the better! :)

Visual Arts Round Table in Arlington, VA!

FREE Career Roundtable for visual artists: Learn about career opportunities in museums, galleries, and arts management from art professionals representing some of the top organizations in the DC area.

March 23 - 10AM to 12:30PM
Arlington Art Center
3550 Wilson Blvd, Arlington VA 22201

Register HERE:
or email

Monday, March 4, 2013

Everyday Object Sculptures

A Japanese artist makes incredible tiny architectural work out of everyday objects like rolls of tape and toothbrushes!

See the work here! 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Paper... gone weird.

Check out this Chinese artist...

Do you like it?

Crazy, right?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Delightful Puzzle

Grad school started up again this week. The (mostly) lovely whirlwind of paper, words, people, and ideas are swirling once again. This semester is my most exciting yet. I am incredibly blessed to have a number of things that are coordinating like a puzzle coming together.

First Puzzle Piece: I am taking care of a little house while the owners are away. It is closer to school. It is closer to my internship. It is in the midst of a delightfully artsy and tight knit community. I can walk to a locally owned coffee shop and see incredible architecture each time I walk, drive, or run around the neighborhood. I have space for creating and thinking and sharing. 
A 1920's Bungalow
Second Puzzle Piece: I am so stoked to have gotten an internship at Red Dirt Studios. My program at school requires internships and this is beyond what I thought possible. Many of the internships are in offices for organizations and it just wasn't quite right. But get this. I am at a ceramic arts collaborative! What?! I will be learning their daily grind, how they sustain their practice, installation techniques, management of a space like that (under Margaret Boozer), and meeting loads of artists. On my first day we talked about community art issues, welded some large scale frames for plaster pieces, planed ceramic cheese boards, and went campaigning for getting artists involved in their local community. 
Margaret Boozer and Elle Brande
Third Puzzle Piece: I've always dreamt of starting some sort of studio space or retreat idea for artists. This semester I have a unique opportunity to start something of the sort with no venue cost. Two of my colleagues from my program jumped on board and we've got The Empty House Studio. I am doing it for credit at school and my professor who is overseeing the project is just perfect. She is challenging me and pushing me to get the most out of this temporary experience. I am taking a class called Gallery Management (actually with that same professor) which will give me an even better understanding of the nitty gritty behind a venture like this. 
Click the picture and go to the Mission and Vision tab. 

Fourth Puzzle Piece: My own creativity hasn't quit. Its a funny thing, this artistic impulse. It won't go away. And learning to train and hone and use it 'correctly' has proven quite a task. A number of people, all congregating currently, are the perfect sounding boards and collaborators. I've set goals for studio time, projects, and collaborations. I've missed this community around creation ... and I know that the lack of community cause me to burn out in the past. I will foster this and revel in it while I have it.

If you are on Facebook, you can follow along by "liking" The Empty House Studio community and Sarah Coffin Pottery

I am so excited to share the process with you all. 
Thanks for reading. 

Change your mindset. Be grateful for something each day.