Sam Clark, Ceramic Artist

About the Artist

SamPortrait1

Photo Credit: Joe Ellis/The Clarion Ledger

“I want to be a part of the stories that have captured my imagination, playing with materials to craft what I’ve never seen in reality. As a ceramic artist I work to add to the story as it grows deeper and richer. I dip my hands into the wonderful material of clay so that these stories can be seen, touched, and known by others.

If I imagine a moment of conversation between two dragons, next I want to invite another person into that moment. So I may draw it or sculpt it in clay. Suddenly, there it is! At your fingertips is the thing that had until that moment only existed in the imagined story.”  – Sam Clark

 


Two things were never far from Sam growing up, a good book and a drawing pad.  As the great tales filled his imagination, the desire to draw those images out onto the page followed naturally. Add to that the influence of comic strips like Gary Larson’s “The Far Side” and a naturally funny personality, and it’s easy to see how imagination and humor would eventually combine perfectly in Sam’s work.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t until after graduate school that ceramics entered the picture. After finishing a Masters in Sequential Art (visual storytelling) at Savannah College of Art and Design, Sam realized that anything he could draw he could sculpt in clay. The storied characters that populated his imaginings could finally make their way into the three-dimensional world.

What’s so immediately striking about Sam’s creations is the sense of living personality they effortlessly convey. The faces especially express a wonderful personal presence, though fixed in sculpted clay! At any moment a lounging dragon might lazily lift a thumb to his tongue, whetting it to turn the page of the book he is reading. You half expect a lumpish coffee troll to suddenly gulp down his coffee and clumsily trot across the kitchen counter for a refill. Sam’s ability to essentially animate stone is uncanny.

The last couple of years a final piece fell into place – Sam’s expertise in drawing. Sam always kept sketchbooks, where he would conceptualize future sculptures, working out the characters in detail before clay was in hand. Accomplished on the potter’s wheel, finally Sam began to draw directly on his hand-thrown pottery. Giant coffee-starved robots rampage through cityscapes and cow-nabbing UFOs populate the surfaces of coffee mugs, each one carefully drawn (or carved rather) onto the surface of the mug before the clay hardens.

Whether it’s a dragon reading a book, a troll sipping coffee, or a caffeine-deprived robot stumbling through a city – all of Sam’s clay creations, though fantastic, draw out the humanness in us. We can stand back and laugh or lean in to better hear the story they are telling – and when we do, we find it is a familiar tale.

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations if you live near him.”

J.R.R. Tolkien