Hello, my name is Cole Worden. I am a recent graduate from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where I received a BFA in studio arts, and I am currently a participant of the working artist program at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.
As far as my personal timeline goes, I am rather new to ceramics. I spent the majority of my youth honing my skills as a musician, which led to a short career as a drummer in an internationally touring metal band. My eyes were opened to a vastly larger world than I could have ever imagined, and became aware of how little I really knew about life. This fueled my curiosity and eventually drove me to drop everything and return to school. I spent two and a half years as a neuroscience major and struggled to adjust to the life of a student, while coming down from a three year high of adrenaline, drugs, rock and roll, and my own inflated ego. It became clear I wasn’t going to make it as a scientist. I took a ceramics class on a whim, trying to find a new path ahead, and was hooked instantly. I accidentally stumbled into a warm, accepting, and challenging community of artists, that helped me to find myself, and a way forward. I graduated in December of 2018, and have since been doing what I can to make it as a ceramic artist.
So, what does a day in the studio look like for me? Most of my work is slip-cast, so that means I have to go through a pretty extensive process starting from an idea and getting to a finished product. I begin by either making a form from clay, or making a form from MDF, then alter the surface (often with paint, electrical tape, or customized stickers) to get the desired texture I want. Then I take a plaster mold of the object, which I can later cast from with slip. Once I have the object in porcelain, I apply various washes, wax, and glazes to achieve the desired coloration.
While I am casting from the molds I have, in a more rigid production sort of process, I’m simultaneously working out how to improve on what I have, and brainstorming for the next form I want to make. Alternating between production and creation keeps my day interesting, and every step has room for creativity. So, despite the rigid replication that comes with slip casting, I like to make subtle changes all the time to make each piece unique.
Much of my time in the studio, I can be found with headphones in, which half of the time are playing metal. Growing up, one of the most influential forms of visual art for me was the album art and graphic design on cd covers and band merch. I think on a deeper level, most of my aesthetic decisions have roots in metal/rock/punk culture, whether they are immediately apparent or not. The other half is spent listening to audiobooks or podcasts, generally in the realm of science or philosophy. Learning about and pondering the nature of our reality through reason and experimentation provides for me a sort of spiritual satisfaction that no religion has been able to do.
These ideas permeate into my work, along with my love for architecture, and all of the media I consume, creating a chimeric brain baby that usually pops out in the form of a pot. Which begs the question, why pottery?
I’ve been asking myself this question for a while now, and for many reasons I love the process of making pottery. I find my flow through physical action. My mind and body are both engaged creatively and intellectually. But I think those personally gratifying aspects wouldn’t be worth it without being able to serve someone else. The utility of pottery is common across all walks of human life, and I am happy to provide someone with that utility. Plus, I can hint at little nuggets of ideas for someone to contemplate with their morning coffee, and that’s fun for me.
Thanks to Main Street Arts Gallery for giving me the opportunity to share with you a little bit about myself and my process. If you’d like to know more, or find more of my work, you can visit my:
Cole Worden is one of 44 artists included in the 4th annual The Cup, The Mug exhibition on the second floor at Main Street Arts, a national juried exhibition of drinking vessels. The Cup, The Mug runs through December 14, 2019.