Artist name: Dr. Deborah Bernstein
Featured Works: Handmade Pottery, photographed with and without food
Deborah Bernstein’s pots have substance and personality; each interacts with the space it is in and with the food it holds in a thoughtful, unique way. From the artist’s site:
“I make a lot of pots to give away for fundraisers. Every year, I help plan and donate dozens of bowls to the Warwick Valley Empty Bowls event. I donate a piece each year to the Hudson Valley Planned Parenthood art auction. I’ve contributed to fundraisers for the new library. A few years ago, Judy and I made 60 vases for the tables at The Black Dirt Feast in Pine Island. I make pots to use in my home. I make pots to give to people I love. I make pots to give when people I care about get married, have a baby, move to a new home, renovate a kitchen or need cheering up. I sell lots of pots, too. Over the years, my work has been displayed in galleries and stores here in Warwick and I’ve participated in a bunch of Open Studios. “
Featured Works 3 and 4:
On the left above, wood/salt fired porcelain and on the right, “genius chocolate mousse in a porcelain bowl on a porcelain plate” (from Deborah Bernstein’s Instagram) .
5 Questions for the Artist:
1. What is art to you?
“Embodied creative energy. The physical manifestation of an inspired idea.”
2. What did you make in the past, and why?
“I have always made things with my hands. I don’t know why. It is an energy I feel almost every day and it feels deeply connected to my life force and to my identity. When I was a child, I loved to paint and to draw. I have been interested in making photographs for as long as I can remember. And I’ve been a cook and baker since I was 5 or 6 years old. As a teenager, I went through a candle making phase, and had several small industries: I made terrariums out of colored sand, I learned to do calligraphy and addressed wedding invitations (until a bride asked me to use white ink and they all smeared), and I taught myself to cut and style hair. And…I have always been a writer. I went through a very dark time in my twenties, during graduate school; death and unimaginable tragedy surrounded my life. It was then that I realized I wanted to become a potter. I finally had the opportunity to get my hands on clay at the age of 39. Although it took many years until I felt competent enough to think of myself as a potter, I fell in love with the process of making pots the very first time I sat at the wheel.”
3. What are you making now, and why?
“The past year has been an exciting time of artistic growth and opportunity for me. I have been working on a project called Empty Bowls (to raise funds to feed the hungry) for a decade or so, and through the process of producing hundreds of bowls for donation, I have become quite skilled at making pots on the wheel. So, my attention has turned from learning to throw to a focus on form and function; I am more and more interested in the interaction between pots and food. I am conscious that, in the first world, in my lifetime, we have become increasingly distant from our innate awareness of the interconnectedness of things. There is a deep relationship between the way we produce food and objects and our experience of the world. The health of our bodies, and to the vitality of the planet are rooted in this relationship. There is a growing shift as people are beginning to become more interested in handmade things and locally sourced, organic, homemade food. I am eager to be a part of this shift. Integrating these interests, I have created a website and blog, and begun to engage with social media. Choosing pots to photograph with the food I make has begun to shape the way I think about the making of both the pots and the food. It is an interactive process involving all of the senses, and spanning five different, but related art forms: ceramics, cooking, food styling, photography and writing. I am totally captivated and energized by the synergy between these five forms.”
4. What are your hopes for the future?
“It has been a little more than I year since I began to photograph locally sourced, homemade food and handmade tableware. I plan to continue to learn about what combinations of food, pottery, utensils, glassware, textiles, and surfaces work well and are pleasing to touch and to see. I hope to continue to learn to make better and better pots, food, and photographs, and to write about them. And I’d like to begin to share my pots more widely; an on-line store is in my future. There are many incredibly gifted food stylists and bloggers who have expressed an interest in my pots. I have begun a process of studying how my pots work with my food; it’s time to see what these talented people will do with them.”
5. Do you want to add anything?
“You asked me a great question: ‘What do you make, and why?’ Reflecting, I discover that I don’t really know why I have always been driven to make things. But I do know that the process of being filled with creative energy and figuring out how to embody that energy (to take an idea and give it a form), is a huge part of what life is about for me. As a psychologist, it seems to me that the process of making art is not only a joyful one, but also a source of calm focus and vitality. It is an enormous source of well-being. If I could sum up my “dr deb” prescription for wellbeing, it would be this: Cultivate awareness (practice mindfulness, meditate), find a way to be physically active, and learn to create something. Write, draw, paint, sculpt, plant a garden, bake bread, braid hair, find your art form and practice it!”
Artist Supplied Background: Dr. Deb Bernstein is a psychologist, potter, runner, foodblogger, mom of two twentysomething miracles, married for 30 years to the best man on the planet. Her high fire wheel thrown porcelain and stoneware pottery are functional and beautiful. Specializing in bowls, plates, bottles, and cups, her forms are simple and comfortable in the hands. Whether she is making a huge bowl big enough to bath a baby or a teeny cup designed to hold the juice of half a lemon, her love and joyful spirit go into each piece.
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