By Rowan Futrell, Layout manager
Dr. Scott Meyer has been a professor of ceramics for 36 years at the University of Montevallo. Meyer has been invited to solo exhibitions internationally as well as here at home. He is the author of a book called “With Fire: A Life Between Chance and Design”. He and Richard Hirsch, an internationally-recognized ceramics artist, collaborated with others on “The Crucible Project.” The exhibition was on display last November in the Bloch and Poole Art Galleries.
Meyer said that his path as a ceramics artist began when he was taking a required class for his Art Education degree. “Somewhere in that class… it just seemed to make sense.” He grew up near New York City, and was exposed to a variety of museums and art. “Seeing somebody’s fingerprint on something and reading that it was made in 6000 BC… there was something about that that was very intriguing,” Meyer explained.
Ceramicists use a variety of techniques to create their works. Meyer said that he uses wheel-throwing, a type of technique in which the artist uses the rotation of a wheel to create clay pottery. “So the wheel is central, usually,” he said. But while “the field is largely technique driven,” Meyer said that he is “concept-driven.” He doesn’t have a certain ceramics style, or technique. “I do all of it, depending on what I want the effect to be.”
Meyer was inspired to create from different sources. “I was always drawn to industrial references and objects from industry,” Meyer explained. Ted Metz, a Professor Emeritus of Ceramics at UM used to collect crucible forms. “They were in my visual life for probably 4-5 years as I went in and out of my studio.”
“Over the years I’ve worked a lot with a guy named Rick Hirsch, who’s… just a mega-star in the field. Very important person in clay.” He explained that they met at the National Conference on Education for the Ceramic Arts. “I had a bunch of posters of my pieces. He’s the kind of guy who, if you’re doing well, he won’t say anything. If you’re doing not so well, he might say a lot.” He said he felt that Hirsch liked his work, but they did not talk about it. But that changed at the conference. “He saw the poster and I can see him looking at it… He said, ‘You wanna jam a little bit with this idea?’ That’s like a guitarist being asked by Keith Richards if he wants to jam. The answer’s ‘Yeah’.”
When it comes to inspirations as an individual artist, Meyer emphasized the process. “I love process. Raw materials, the voice of things is important to me,” he said. Meyer explained that knowledge of what came before is important. “For me, these people that have already done their thing are great resources for me.”
“There’s nothing like a major show to paralyze you,” he continued. “You got your destination, now where to?” “You gotta keep going, make little stuff, make stuff you already know how to make.” Meyer explained, “You can’t stop, you can’t get too far from the material.”
Continuing to look at other artists’ work is a great way to be inspired, Meyer said. “It’s stimulating to see other people’s solutions to issues. Especially people that are close to how I feel about the material and what I feel I bring to it.”
Meyer explained that being around student artists and seeing what they create is inspiring. “This beats the hell out of anything I can think of.” He continued, “Artists that work at universities are uniquely privileged people because you’re around thought, not just art.”
For artists early in their career, Meyer recommends juried shows. “Some of them are local. There are pretty good galleries around in Birmingham, and the Shelby Art Academy has a great space.” He mentioned that UM has student pop-up shows as well. “There are things we do on campus here that will put people’s names out there.” Not all galleries are good spaces for artists, however. “Watch out for vanity galleries. They know that students are trying to make a name,” Meyer warned. “They flatter [you], and then they offer you a show, and then they ask you for money to front the show… It’s not flat-out extortion, but it’s close.” (corrected grammar here for readability lol)
Meyer does not have a website or Instagram, although he does recommend Instagram to student artists trying to show their work. “That’s how you get your stuff out there. It’s a huge bulletin-board that I’m not taking advantage of.” He said that he does plan on creating an Instagram for his art. “Check it out soon, it isn’t there yet but it will be,” he said.
Meyer’s work will be on display at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts from June to mid-July this year.