Interview with Gretchen Ewert

Interview  /  Artists   BehindTheScenes
Published: 13.06.2016
Interview with Gretchen Ewert.
Rob Dean
Edited by:
Patina Gallery
Edited at:
Santa Fe
Edited on:
Gretchen Ewert. Bowl: Double Persian Horses, 2016. Ceramic, German leaf, 23.5 kt gold.. 29 x 24 x 24 cm. Gretchen Ewert
Bowl: Double Persian Horses, 2016
Ceramic, German leaf, 23.5 kt gold.
29 x 24 x 24 cm
© By the author. Read Copyright.

Ideas of a physical world that resonate, are still intensely powerful, often gorgeous. Art history is a huge source of ideas.
How do your latest influences emerge in your new pieces?
The show includes three related bodies of work. First are the small forms I call “primordial eggs.” The metaphor of pollen and seeds fits how I work. The shapes began as ideas for larger sculptures, but quickly took on a life of their own. The surfaces became important, becoming in effect ceramic meditations on botany and geology. 

Then I have clay pieces. The vessels in this show are figurative animals, nods to art history. My surfaces include a lot of different media applied after firing again, in layers built up and removed. 

The mixed media two-dimensional pieces start out as digital scans, mostly of textiles, as the printed under painting. With Photoshop, you can save, print, rework endlessly. I go at the flat surface with pen and ink, colored pencil, metallic leafs and paint in the same manner as the post-firing surfaces on clay. The dots on the drawings are hand applied with technical pens, one dot at a time. 

What ignites your creative process?
My original background is in intaglio printmaking. The process is one of etching, applying grounds, building layers, scraping, burnishing and printing. Each step changes the state. It is the idea that all of it is flexible. It can be worked and reworked. It is all drawing. I realize that most artists more or less understand this, but printmaking was how I got there. My process as a printmaker was also abstract “painting” with layers of colored ink. I love paper. You know you can make paper out of anything. You know it’s fiber. Why I love them is a mystery - that’s part of being an artist. Clay lends itself perfectly to the printmaking paradigm of editing.

Describe the interplay of color and texture.
I am nuts for textiles. I collect textiles in my travels to, for example, Southeast Asia and West Africa. They come from people’s collections or anywhere I find them. I am passionate for indigo, celadon, cinnabar, terra cotta and other red departures, which probably puts me in line with much of humanity. My colors are not bright bright. My colors are like old pigments. I like my colors to feel subtle but I do like colors.
How do ideas come to you as an artist?
Ideas of a physical world that resonate, are still intensely powerful, often gorgeous. Art history is a huge source of ideas. I travel, haunting museums. Botanical gardens are useful. But keeping your eyes wide is key. My two-dimensional pieces have no specific source, so I try to avoid being obvious. The images are abstract, my take on the natural world.

Why is Patina Gallery the right venue for you?
Patina is a wonderful place. The level of work is some of the best I have seen. Patina’s observation and its choice of artists and materials feel complete. My friends said years ago that I should be in Patina. When I had the chance, I snatched it up. I thought, “Oh my God, this is fortuitous.” 

What sets your work apart?
I have shown my work with Rick Snyderman in Philadelphia for over 25 years. He has said my work is not like anyone else’s. I take his word for it, but frankly I don’t why that is so except artists have signatures. People want to connect cause with effect, but I am drawn to a thing first then ask questions later. 
Gretchen Ewert. Piece: Kristina’s Perfume Jar, 2016. Ceramic, German leaf, 23.5 kt gold.. 22.9 x 22.9 x 78.7 cm. Gretchen Ewert
Piece: Kristina’s Perfume Jar, 2016
Ceramic, German leaf, 23.5 kt gold.
22.9 x 22.9 x 78.7 cm
© By the author. Read Copyright.