Eric Botbyl is a full time studio potter living and working in Humboldt, TN. He received his BA in Ceramics & Sculpture from Union University in 2001 and regularly attends workshops related to functional pottery and ceramic art. Eric’s work and writings have been featured in numerous newspapers, Mid South Living, Number Magazine, and Ceramics Monthly Magazine. Eric actively shows his work through several galleries, as well as invitational and juried exhibitions. In 2016 he received the “Best Thrown and Altered” award at the 24th Strictly Functional Pottery National in Lancaster, PA. He has taught many workshops throughout the U.S. and Canada and opened his own studio for community clay classes. Eric has designed and constructed 5 wood burning kilns, including the catenary cross-draft at his alma mater, which is one of the largest wood burning kilns in Tennessee. Eric and his wife Jill are also the proprietors of the Companion Gallery, a retail gallery featuring over 30 nationally recognized ceramic artists.

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There is a softness and warmth about the ceramic vessel that carries with it every touch of the potter and mark of the flame. Clay is unique in its ability to record the history of its own making, and the preservation of this process is a vital element of my work.

 

Much of my work is inspired by the idea of entasis, an architectural design technique used by the ancient Greeks. The term, simply translated, means “swollen” or “stretched thin.” While my application is a bit more fluid and organic than the idea presented in historical context, it is at the root of everything I hope my life and work to be.

 

I am influenced by everything from my wife’s pregnant figure to the textured crop lines of rural western Tennessee. Oranges, eyes, barn wood, baby fat, balloon animals, and pine cones are a constant investigation points. I am intrigued by the idea of life swelling from within, seeds breaking through the earth’s surface, and the force of gravity which perpetually plays against them.
Beyond inspiration and influence, I love the sheer physicality of working with clay. There is heavy lifting, grunting, cutting, wedging, sweating, centering, hollowing, pushing and pulling… action, art, muscle, mind and craftsmanship… curiosity, exploration, influence, risk, music, spirit and flesh… smoothing, scratching, scraping, bending, folding, denting… texture, color, pattern, design and decision… history, memory, chemistry, alchemy and serendipity. There are blacks, reds, oranges, yellows and whites… smoke, grit, gloss, sweat, hunger, humor, caffeine, work and rest. There is anticipation, fellowship, congratulations, disappointment and surprise. The challenge remains for me to create vessels that continuously speak to these elements and beyond.

-Eric Botbyl

 

 

 

 

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