Interview with Adams Puryear
1. So, first off, can you talk a little bit about your different bodies of work/different media approaches? What role do each of these play in your practice/how do they work together? In general I have 3 ongoing bodies of work. They are the oozing sculptures, the pottery, and FPOAFM. Usually these naturally come and go at intervals, like I will finish working toward a deadline on the oozing work then switch to pottery so I can still be active in the studio. FPOAFM, an art collective I started based around abstract approaches of functional ceramics and community, has its own path and is project based, meaning without some concrete deadline it stalls until the next deadline happens. Also I sometimes have slight meanderings and will intensively work on a project that has nothing to do with any of the above for awhile until that project is flushed out(the Tools for the Future project for example).
Primarily I work on the oozing sculptures. Those started in grad school (IU class of 2012) partly as a response against the limitations of ceramics. At the time I wanted to make sculptures that were brighter and more complex physically than ceramics or my skills would easily allow. I felt the need to work as fast as my ideas would come, so working in the moment was key. From this I developed a system of working with a ceramic vessel core and building around it with gypsum-based materials as well as oil based clay and found objects. Just before grad school I had been viewing a lot of art, in retrospect maybe a little too much, so oversaturation occurred. Basically from this, I was getting bored with my own work no matter how challenging and experimental I was making it. Also during this time I was greatly interested in some of the raw clay experimental installations that were happening. I had thought about using slip to break the artwork out of its frozenness, but that had too many technical problems associated with it, and it limited me to just an earthy or basic color. I eventually arrived in my experiments with this oozing material, which takes the place of the slip, with the colors I wanted.
Right now (or just before the nationwide shutdown at least) I had reduced a lot of this complex making back to just the ceramic object and the ooze with some added audio or video elements. At one point I had started to make them with crude faces inspired from some of the internet culture happening and they developed from there. The audio and video is balanced between the frozen ceramic and the changing ooze, and is in there to bring in another element of transformation and distraction into the work.
2. I’m specifically interested in your foaming/oozing resin (I'm assuming?) pieces. If you don’t mind me asking, what is the material you use for the oozy substances and how do you use it/how does it work?
I get this question a lot and its deceptively simple logic. There isn’t a pump or any serious mechanics involved, the ooze is just emptying out of the ceramic vessel with the help of gravity. It is the same recipe as Slime or Gak, or any of that stuff found in a toy store or online craft kids Youtube video. At the time I brought it into my work, it was partly an inside joke against the seriousness and intellectual high-mindedness of grad school, but now serves as an important dynamic component of the work, and also sort of a punk statement toward the gallery/museum/show space. It slowly empties from the vessel during an exhibition and as it dries it changes form and color.
3. Where/how do you source your materials? Clay, resin, and otherwise?
Local clay suppliers, and art stores. When Im at a new place like a residency I will just work with whats available primarily and bring in some choice objects or technology when it seems the most important. Leaving the development of the work partly up to chance keeps the work fresh and interesting to me, and that is hopefully reflected in the work when its done.
4. Where is your studio/what does it look like? How often are you in the studio?
I’ve maintained a small studio for several years in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. It is small and does not have a kiln, only tables and tools and computer. I make fired ceramic work at various studios or residencies when convenient or necessary, and this process works for me, allowing me to have to have lower bills and more time to myself.
5. What does your typical week look like? How do you balance your practice with other things (other jobs, family, relationships, etc.)?
Typically Ill be working half the week teaching ceramics at studios around the city or a college in Long Island. The other half the time my schedule is up to me. There’s definitely a daily studio practice but it ebbs and flows with proposals and deadlines. Making time for loved ones, friends and art viewing is really just as important to me as working in my studio or doing research. A lot of time I will be stopped at not knowing how to proceed with a project and find myself talking to someone, cycling to the beach, or looking at some art show, and will be hit with the solution, or the path to the solution. Art making never stops even if you are not in your studio.