An Interview with Phyllis Kudder Sullivan

In the course of preparing for a show, we get the privilege of sitting down with the artist and learning about their process and sources of inspiration. This fall we spoke with Phyllis about her upcoming exhibition "Vortex with Gold Line Series" sp

1. Tell me how your relatonship with art started and did you start (as a) ceramicist? I can’t remember a time when I was not passionate about art making. My ceramic career started as an undergraduate in a required ceramic class where I fell in love with the material. Primarily a painter focused on two-dimensional patterns and textures of surface, clay introduced me to the realm of structure.

2. Where did you study? More important than where I studied was the ceramicist with whom I studied. Professor Rose Krebs was a noted Bauhaus-trained ceramic artist. She was my MFA mentor at Long Island University, a friend and a source of inspiration and wisdom.

3. Tell me about your philosophy or the philosophies that you follow as an artist? I make time for play in the studio. It’s not easy, but having the time and space to enjoy working, or just thinking, without expectation of a finished body of work is a gift I give to myself. Artist residencies, national or international, take me out of the familiar and are a critical part of my creative process. I find that new experiences generate ideas that can germinate over time and, sometimes, lead to new avenues of exploration.

4. Tell me about the series that we will be showing in your upcoming exhibition? My Vortex With Gold Line Series is an extension of the Vortex Series. In the Vortex Series the shifting grids of my organic net-like structures completely envelop the inner space without giving any apparent indication of where the coils of clay start or end. Like the Klein boJle, a mathematical construct, my net-like sculptures blur the border between inside and outside, giving the illusion that I am constructing with voids. And it is the volume, the emptiness within the walls, that dark, mysterious living space, which is at the heart of my work. In the new Vortex With Gold Line Series I pay tribute to the Japanese philosophy of kintsugi. After multiple firings for strength and color I apply a gold leaf composite, not to mend, but to draw attention to a single thread.

5. What would you like people to think or feel when they see your artwork? Intrigue. I would hope that my work resonates with people on a deeper level. I’d like viewers to take away a sense of space as a tangible that can evoke memories of place.