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Open studio at Beverly Fisher’s with drawings by Fisher and pottery by Willi Singleton


Maegan visits an artist’s studio for a show of drawings and pottery, and she finds some nice camaraderie along the way.–the Artblog editors—————–>

Willi Singleton and Beverly Fisher prove that the old adage is true—good things do come in small packages.  Fisher opened her studio to the public over Memorial Day weekend with invited guest, potter Willi Singleton for an intimate home show of their respective work.  Singleton displayed his handmade functional pottery in the garden, while Fisher showed her drawings inside the studio.  Their show, while small in scale, was full of vigor.  Fisher and Singleton blended fine art with a casual setting, good company and cheer to create a truly enjoyable afternoon.

Willi Singleton’s “Slow Clay” movement – community-spirited and nature referencing

Willi Singleton, Woodfired functional stoneware, Photograph by Ken Ek Photography
Willi Singleton, Woodfired functional stoneware. Photograph by Ken Ek Photography.
Willi Singleton, Woodfired functional stoneware, Photograph by Ken Ek
Willi Singleton, Woodfired functional stoneware. Photograph by Ken Ek.

Entering the garden, my friends and I were greeted by Singleton’s wares displayed on flagstones along the path to the studio.  Singleton remarks that he sees his pottery as “windows to nature,” explaining that he takes material from around his home on Hawk Mountain and creates an expression of the beauty he sees in the natural environment.  Singleton’s process is painstaking– he first digs raw, “wild” clay from around Hawk Mountain and then processes it by hand along with clay from the Chesapeake Bay area into a workable material.  His forms are then thrown on a kick-wheel, glazed and wood-fired.

Willi Singleton Woodfired functional stoneware, Photograph by Ken Ek
Willi Singleton, Woodfired functional stoneware. Photograph by Ken Ek.

Further utilizing the nature surrounding his property, Singleton uses bamboo, cornstalks and dried grasses culled from around his home to create the different ash glazes on his wares.  The artist’s forms are sturdy and reference masculine qualities, while his glazing is graceful and organic.  Singleton points out a pot and explains that the swooping lines of glaze are meant to reference the way grasses bend in the breeze.  Another platter features a poured glaze design and very closely resembles a wintry field covered in snow.

Willi Singleton Woodfired functional stoneware, Photograph by Ken Ek
Willi Singleton, Woodfired functional stoneware. Photograph by Ken Ek.

His wood firings are something of a happening.  Friends and neighbors gather to take part in the day-long (or sometimes two-day-long) firing process.

In the past, my husband and I participated in one of these firings and really enjoyed the community that Singleton has created around his work.  That day we chopped and moved wood and stoked the kiln.  Once the firing was complete, everyone gathered for a celebratory dinner.  Those who did not participate in the firing brought culinary contributions to the table.  Singleton compares his work to the “Slow Food” movement in the culinary world.  He uses as many natural materials as possible in his work to create pieces that are representative of a specific place.

Beverly Fisher’s drawings mix architecture and the natural world

Beverly Fisher, "loomings 2" Courtesy of the artist
Beverly Fisher, “Loomings 2.” Courtesy of the artist.

Inside the studio, Fisher’s drawings hang on the walls and a selection of Singleton’s pottery lines the room.  Fisher was my professor for a semester while studying ceramics at Saint Joseph’s University.  When we studied mark-making, Fisher chose to have the class make ink drawings to get a feel for mark-making in ceramics.   It was then that I first became familiar with her work.

Fisher’s drawings have a nice masculine/ feminine contrast that echoes Singleton’s work well.

Her pen and ink drawings are very structured, referencing architecture with lean, crisp lines.  Charcoal drawings reference the botanical and are much softer and emotional; this is a very pleasing contrast.

Beverly Fisher, "small rotate" Courtesy of the artist
Beverly Fisher, “Small Rotate.” Courtesy of the artist.

Fisher’s work has a quiet energy.  In her art, Fisher aims to capture a sense of place that is mindful, serene and reflective of her own place in the world.  In “loomings 2,” Fisher’s manipulation of line creates pleasing texture that reminds me of wood grain.  The form of the shapes in the foreground seems to reference pressed leaves.  The forms have a seamed quality; whisper-thin lines extend from the seams, bending alongside one another.  These lines lend a pleasant movement to the piece; each shape seems to undulate in place.  All of her drawings have a strange mystery—geometrical shapes overlap and intersect with the larger forms in the foreground.  It seems as though Fisher is measuring the way in which things interact in a meditative manner.  The repetitive pattern of lines does not seem arbitrary, but purposeful, as though she is trying to capture the rhythms and patterns of life.

Beverly Fisher, "loomings 1" Courtesy of the artist
Beverly Fisher, “Loomings 1.” Courtesy of the artist.

In viewing “small rotate,” I am left with the impression of various shifts recorded in the same space.  Lines dance across and over one another, but I am not able to see where one shape ends and another begins.  This leads me to believe that Fisher is thinking about the interconnectedness of events, the way things change and evolve.  Fisher’s drawings are thoughtful and pensive; they beg to be observed over time, to allow their meanings and subtleties to unfold.

Beverly Fisher, "untitled" Courtesy of the artist
Beverly Fisher, “Untitled.” Courtesy of the artist.

On the day of the show, it was clear that the focus was to share art with community, friends and family.  Neighbors and friends wandered by to peruse the works, warm themselves by the fire crackling in the garden, or share a drink and catch up.  One neighbor brought a cutting from a rosemary plant that was shared with visitors.  My friends and I enjoyed participating in the fellowship and camaraderie generated by these two artists and their respective work.

More information about the artists can be found on their websites, click for Willi Singleton and Beverly Fisher.