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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

Michele Collier

"I discovered clay at the age of 18. I learned on a kick-wheel at Sacramento City College in Sacramento, CA under the tutelage of Dr. Beverly Pears. In those days functional work was the gold standard. Hands on clay has been a touchstone for me ever since. Throughout my careers in both commercial and fine art, clay was the one medium I could return to when I needed to restore my focus and sense of self.

 After graduating from the Academy of Art College (now, University), I went into the double career of illustration and fine art painting. Like the trick rider who rides two horses roman style, I continued in this way for 15 productive years. During that time my paintings were mainly landscapes., but a need for a more intimate expression led me to figurative works.

In 2000 I moved from the rolling hills of Sonoma County to Oakland, CA and the shift to such an urban setting affected me more deeply than I could have predicted. I felt off balance and unable to paint. Once again, I returned to clay to get my bearings. This time it turned out to be a career change for me. The pots I threw soon sprouted sculptural elements and it wasn't long before I made the shift to pure sculpture. What had been the figurative subject of my paintings now became the subject of my sculpture. Over the next year or two I learned the skills I needed for my change of medium. I was fortunate to find excellent instructors at this juncture who helped me build on my knowledge of the human form and adapt it to clay. I work with hand rolled slabs because I like the immediacy of what happens when clay is pushed, folded and torn. It keeps my work fresh and it also keeps me humble because at any time the piece could collapse."

Michele Collier

"In the darkness when grief gently taps me on the shoulder…in the early morning when the sunrise fills me with hope….when music plays and causes my soul to dance. It is at these times that I stop thinking in words and my mind is filled with images. The strongest of these images will keep returning to me and nagging me until I discover how it might become manifest in clay. 

 I plan the piece in my head and make many sketches, but I don’t touch the clay until I can feel what I want. When I’m clear about what that is, I pick up my rolling pin and start working the clay into a slab. I tear away large swaths only to add them back again as I keep rolling. When the slab has taken on a certain energy, I begin constructing. As I stretch and compress the clay, it is as though it has come to life. The surface of the slab becomes the very human-like surface of the sculpture.  After much wrestling, the clay and I come to an agreement. I don’t work traditionally because I want preserve the spontaneity of form that encourages the unexpected. With clay slabs, the unexpected is my constant companion."

Michele Collier

  BFA, Academy of Art University, San Francisco, CA
   Four years of targeted study on how the human figure moves through space and expresses itself non-verbally.
  Advanced Sculpture, Susannah Israel, Laney College, Oakland, CA
   Two years of study and guidance to adapt my knowledge of the human form to the medium of clay.
  Advanced Sculpture, Andree Singer Thompson, Laney College, Oakland, CA
     One year study of new clay mediums. This experience is the basis of my innovative work with paper clay slabs.

  2011 Award of Merritt
   California Clay Competition, Davis, CA
  2010 Jurors Award, Best of Clay
    31st Annual Contemporary Crafts, Mesa Contemporary Arts, Mesa, AZ
  Best of Clay Award
   The 2010 Collection,

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