“It’s never too late to become what you might have been.”
I became a professional ceramic artist not far from my 50th birthday. I had no formal art training, beyond a few throwing classes, and had the optimism of the blessedly ignorant. It was a time of change for me: loss of a long-term career, end of a long-term marriage, and a sense of urgency to “find myself”. Clay became my source of re-birth. It became an obsession. A last chance to prove to myself I had something worthwhile to offer the world.
Animals were always an integral part of my life. My mother was very tolerant of my expanding menagerie. I don’t remember her ever saying “no” to a request for a new pet. My father taught Ecology at SUNY Brockport, and people in town frequently brought young or injured wildlife to him, which he delivered home to be raised or rehabilitated. There was a more or less constant parade of ducklings, baby woodchucks, rabbits and squirrels, even a screech owl and a sparrow hawk. My patient mother allowed them all space in our home.
I’d always enjoyed art as a child. I drew constantly, painted in oils, and as a young adult did some woodcarving. My subject matter was always animals. No surprise that when I tried my hand at clay, I leaned more to sculpture. Throwing on the wheel has always been a source of frustration, but as a production artist I need to make work quickly, and so the pots get made, and anointed with an animal. The tile work came along after watching a friend work on a bas relief tile. I teach myself techniques as I go, finding what works and what doesn’t.
I currently work in a studio at my home with Richard Aerni. We both are obsessed with our own work, and do some collaborative works as well. He has been a mentor, friend and partner in work and life. My career, such as it is, would not be where it is without his guidance. Like most artists, I work long hours for little pay, but I’m content. It’s never to late to become what you might have been.
There seem to be many of us who came to clay somewhat later in life…what a learning process with some rewards here and there. Interesting to learn more about you, thanks for the posting.
You’re the coolest, Carolyn!
“Would not be where it is without his guidance”….I bet you’re thinking about that statement now:)
Hello, I met your nephew Davey Pressley yesterday at the Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia. He had photos of your work and we enjoyed seeing your sculpture. We love the personality of your creatures. I too have done some woodcarving and teach beginners here at SNCA. Look us up if you are ever down this way.
Where can I buy your bowls and pots?
My studio is in Rochester NY: 1115E Main St, Door 5, ste. 106. We have a gallery, and many people drop in to shop. I also have an Etsy shop: carolynsjing. I post a lot of work in progress on Facebook, so if you’re on, send me a friend request! Thanks for asking! -Carolyn
Just admired your work…your wish pots… at Memorial Art Gallery gift shop in Rochester…beautiful…subtle…easy to believe they hold a little magic within.
Thankyou so much! People love the story of them!
I saw your work in the ceramics monthly October issue. I googled your name and found your website. You are an inspiration! I love your work. Much love from Phoenix, Arizona.
I recently stopped by the West End Gallery in Corning, my all-time favorite art gallery, and found your work on display. My daughter Emily, who is from LA, is currently living with me (along with her husband and 3 young children), and she was mortified that she had broken a small spoon-holder on my kitchen counter. So now I have your lovely yellow plate with its cute green frog — and it makes me (and a relieved Emily) very happy!
I’m so glad it worked out! West End is a wonderful gallery owned by such nice people!!
I’ve just seen three of you animal sculptures at my father’s, a ferret, an otter and an eagle.
If you still make these figures, I’m interested in seeing what you have
Hi Colin! I only have one sculpture currently up on my Etsy shop, carolynsjing.etsy.com, a hare. I always enjoy making them as commission requests. I don’t know if you’re on Facebook or Instagram, but I have work posted there. It’s hard to keep up with all my pottery requests, so I haven’t had time to make sculpture until just recently. Just not enough hours in the day! I’m glad your dad enjoys my work so much!