Artist Statement & Bio
Sara Swink: My Life in Clay
I make clay human and animal figures with a psychological stance. My hand-built sculptural works impart ideas through stories, often with a humorous edge. I've always loved animals and enjoy expressing human foibles through the animal persona. I like to form fast in a gritty sculpture clay, incise into the clay, bisque fire, finish with oxides, underglazes and glazes, then fire to cone 5.
My ideas derive most often from a process methodology that I teach in workshops, which employs simple and accessible techniques like collage and doodling to unleash the unconscious. Then I try to stay out of the way, letting ideas flow, selecting the ones that most resonate to bring into clay. I also get ideas from what I’m reading, a phrase or concept that triggers an idea for a piece. I sketch a lot, and one piece often leads to more ideas. There is a thread of personal narrative that runs through all my ceramic work. Reflection and writing help me to recognize and make some sense of the progression. It’s the process of inner exploration that keeps me moving forward.
These days, I divide my time between larger sculptural work for galleries, commissions, and smaller works I make available at craft shows and online.
Sara Swink was born in Illinois and moved to California in the 60’s, where growing up, she was unknowingly influenced by the Funk Movement of the San Francisco Bay Area. Her love of clay began at the age of 8 with the encouragement of a neighbor who was a potter and antiques dealer. In high school, Sara learned to throw on the potter’s wheel, hand-build, and mix glazes; she bought her own wheel with money earned cleaning houses. In her early 20s, graphic design took her attention and ceramics were forgotten until she took a class at Palo Alto Art Center some twenty years later. This was followed by a workshop in 1998 with Coeleen Kiebert, who fused artmaking and ceramics with the psychology of the creative individual. For many years Sara took classes from Kiebert and early on was invited to teach her approach, while at the same time pursuing an academic art education in art history, ceramics, drawing, printmaking and foundry work at Foothill College, San Jose State University, and San Francisco State University through the first year of graduate study in ceramics.
Sara taught at a number of California venues and in her own studio, while participating in regional shows. In 2006, she moved to the Portland area, where she established Clay Circle Studio and continues to show and teach. She shows her work at Simon Mace Gallery in Port Townsend, WA, Hanson Howard Gallery in Ashland, OR and Row Boat Gallery in Pacific City, and at a number of other venues and exhibitions in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. In 2013, Sara was featured on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s “Oregon Art Beat”. She is a member of Oregon Potters Association and exhibits annually at OPA Ceramic Showcase in Portland.