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dc visit part one: boozer, kasten, lukaszewski, trump

As many of you know, this year I am interning for established and emerging artists, gathering material to write in depth about life as a working artist.  Last week I visited several Washington DC area artists who expressed interest in the project.  The visit was intense, uplifting, enlightening and too short – I plan to return soon for a month-long gig (maybe longer), rotating between many of the artists and documenting the experience.

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Novie Trump, work in progress

From the moment I entered the busy art complex that houses Washington Glass Studio and School, Flux Studios and Red Dirt Studio I felt completely at home – a testament to the inclusive community and generosity of spirit present among the artists who work there. An open, sharing approach to working and teaching makes sense in so many ways and these artists have created and nurtured this approach with intention – it is a model I hope will be copied by art communities world wide.  More about that when I return to DC.

Tim Tate and Laurel Lukaszweski share a laugh in Novie Trump’s studio

The invitation to visit came from Tim Tate, who you will hear more about next week in part two of this post.

Ceramicists Margaret Boozer, Ani Kasten, Laurel Lukaszewski and Novie Trump each create compelling works that stir something in me, appealing to my love of process, multiples, vessels and found objects.  I look forward to learning more about what their days are like, how they sustain their passion for making art and how they maintain balance in life and work. It is my pleasure to introduce them to you…

Novie Trump

As the the founder of Flux Studios, Novie has created a nurturing work and exhibition space for six artists. Flux also hosts visiting artists for short stays throughout the year.

Novie Trump

Her archaeology training shows up in art that often looks like ancient artifacts. As I stood in her studio looking at reliquaries (on exhibit and works in progress), I was speechless for a moment. The lighting, the grouping of individual boxes – each offering shelter for precious objects – makes a powerful statement. When I told Novie how much they moved me she asked if I collected boxes. “Yes!” I replied. I have collected small containers since I was a child. She explained that she finds people who collect boxes, who like secret places, who find the precious in the ordinary, tend to respond to her reliquaries. Yes, this.

One of Novie Trump’s work tables

While I was there Novie showed me some of her new work – moving in a slightly different direction, expanding on a theme. The work is fresh and her ideas for it exciting.  She also mentioned that there is an apron waiting for me so that I can get right to work as soon as I get there. I am so ready. Are you?

flux studios
Novie Trump website
You can read an earlier post about Novie here.

Margaret Boozer

Margaret, founder of Red Dirt Studio, has been creating her signature sculpture and installation pieces in this space since 1996. In addition, she mentors students enrolled in the Red Dirt Seminar, a  four month graduate program with no grades (love that). Students are provided with a studio space to work, weekly group meetings, critiques and one-on-one assistance.  I didn’t have a chance to meet the current students while I was there and look forward to doing that while learning more about how RDS works.

Margaret Boozer at Red Dirt Studio

My conversation with Margaret was spirited and fast paced – I am truly eager to share more with you about this lively, engaging, fearless woman/artist. Margaret digs her own clay – while we chatted she pulled out bucket after bucket of her stash of lavender, red, and yellow clay – my only question was “When can I start digging?”

Buckets of dug clay

Red Fracture/Fill, 24″ x 24″ x 1″
black stoneware, Mt. Rainier red earthenware, slip

“Red Dirt Seminar is a graduate school with no grades. It’s a sculpture studio with a taste for ceramics. It’s a collective work environment with shared resources. It’s a critique group. It’s a business-of-art incubator. It’s an exhibition space, a site for visiting artist workshops, and at times, a craft center for neighborhood kids. At its core, Red Dirt is about what can happen with the coming-together of talented, smart and curious people, working toward greater accomplishment in their professional practice. It’s about drawing on the resources of community, and at the same time giving back.” Margaret Boozer

Red Dirt Studio website
Red Dirt Studio Seminar

Laurel Lukaszewski

Laurel Lukaszweski, one of the lead artists at Flux Studios (along with founder Novie Trump), was working on the components for a new installation when I walked in – experimenting with surface treatments as she tried to close in on her vision for the dozens of small, slightly rounded, not-quite-triangular shapes that surrounded us.

Laurel Lukaszewski in her studio

There were stacks of shapes waiting to be sanded, many more drying on the flea market molds she uses to achieve the soft, sloping curves and even more spread out on the floor, where Laurel studied the composition, moving the pieces this way and that as she inched closer to realizing her vision.

Dance at Midnight, 60″ x 18″ x 12″, black stoneware

Quick to smile and patient with my many questions, Laurel explained some of her process to me. As someone who has extruded polymer with a very small tool, I was interested in hearing about the variety of tools she uses to extrude the long lengths of thick clay she manipulates for many of her sculptures. Did I mention that I am so ready to go down there and get my hands dirty?

Laurel Lukaszewski’s website

Ani Kasten

Soft spoken and contemplative, Ani Kasten has a studio nearby.  Though no longer housed in the same complex as the others, Ani remains strongly connected to the group. She spent three years at Red Dirt Studio, first as a student, then staying on long after her seminar ended, until her work literally got too big for the space.  In the last two years there has been a marked shift in Ani’s work and with that shift I see a clear path to major recognition (if you are going to SOFA Chicago in November, make sure you stop to see her work at the Lacoste Gallery booth).

Ani Kasten in her studio explaining how one of the elements in a new series will be stacked

When I asked her what she attributed this shift to she didn’t skip a beat, responding “Margaret Boozer.” As I toured her spacious new studio, marveling at a new piece that incorporates found wood with her ceramic vessels (so beautiful, haunting even), we talked about how Margaret’s influence and guidance has been a crucial support for Ani over the last few years and more specifically during this critical time in her career.  It was the kind of thing I heard over and over about Margaret Boozer and Tim Tate during my visit. Always spoken with sincerity, respect and gratitude.

New work, combining found wood with ceramic vessels – I hope Ani updates her website with images of her new sculpture soon – they are stunning

Ani Kasten’s website

There is a gem tucked away in Mt. Rainier, MD, just a block away from Washington DC – a nondescript, unassuming building where art thrives, relationships flourish, learning is encouraged and life is enriched.

I was only with each of these artists a short time, but it was long enough to understand that they are cultivating an atmosphere of caring, support, friendship, community, humor and learning that helps them create magnificent art and shape extraordinary individuals.  I can’t wait to be a part of it and share what I learn with you.

I need your help to get there.  Be a part of this experience by making a donation to send daMuse out into the field.

Next week: DC Visit Part Two: The Washington Glass School and Studio

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6 Responses to dc visit part one: boozer, kasten, lukaszewski, trump

  1. I’m so excited by this project of yours Susan, just reading through this post left my heart racing and my face beaming. Things are tight right now money-wise for me but I hereby pledge to send $20 as soon as I can (it may be after February but it will come). Thank you Susan, sending you massive positive vibes.

  2. ANi KAsten’s work looks so interesting, unfortunately she has one of those artist websites where they like to use one third of the screen, and the images of her work are the size of a postage stamp. Doesn’t do the work justice, I don’t know why artist do that.
    I will be at SOFA in just nine days, I will see her work in person and be impressed, I am sure!

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