ELKINS - A new artist's work is being offered at Artists At Work in Elkins. While the items he is creating are not a new concept, his work is not only creative, but very innovative.
Rick Clark's pottery was recently added to the work of many local artisans offered at the cooperative gallery, located at 329 Davis Ave. Clark's work combines his love of clay and his love of the natural world. He said he hopes his work reflects this and will help raise awareness of the beauty and the need to preserve wilderness and wildlife.
Clark said he took a class on the basics of pottery in college, but is basically self-taught in the art.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Christian Broschart
A local artist is combining his love of the natural world with pottery to create unusual artwork featuring animal faces in vases, bowls and mugs. Pottery Rick Clark, of Belington, is the newest artist to feature his work at Artists At Work, a cooperative gallery on Davis Avenue in Elkins.
"I actually started teaching pottery and taught myself as I went," Clark said. "I went to New Hampshire to work at a private boarding school. I taught clay because it was easier to find someone to teach painting and drawing."
Clark said he was mostly doing functional pottery, and he would sit down and learn with his students. Following that, Clark and his wife moved to Northern Virginia, and he created a shop in his garage.
"Wendy had a young lady in her class that was going to attend the Governor's School for the Arts, and she had to complete a culminating project," Clark said. "She decided she wanted to do sculpture and she came and spent some time in my studio. She had no background in clay, so we collaborated on a piece."
Clark said the student came up with an elephant face that she sculpted separately and attached to a vase.
"While she was fooling around with that, I had it in my head that I wanted to try to alter and push out swirls and such," Clark said. "I have always loved animals, especially large mammals, so I reached into a piece and starting pulling out and popped out an elephant face. That is where it started out."
Clark said he did quite a few elephant pieces and then people started suggesting other faces to include in
"Next I did some gorillas," Clark said. "Since then I have expanded out into other things."
Other animals featured on his pottery include orangutans, chimpanzees, sea turtles, whales, dolphins, otters, tigers and snow leopards. He said the ideas keep flowing and expanding, and he sees an unlimited horizon for future work.
A mutual friend of Clark's was working with the human services director at the World Wildlife Foundation and submitted photos of Clark's work.
"They purchased some of my work to use as awards for their employees," Clark said. "She recently contacted me again and said people were thrilled with the pieces. She said she will be placing another order soon."
Clark said he recently quit his full-time job so he could focus on his art.
"Ultimately I would love to do this work as wholesale work," Clark said. "I was juried into Tamarack, and will make my first delivery there soon."
Clark said his goal is to have his work featured in gift shops in zoos, museums and aquariums.
"I want to work on getting that together for next year," Clark said.
Clark grew up in New Jersey. He enjoys kayaking and white water rafting. He studied outdoor recreation and biology at Salem College before transferring to West Virginia Wesleyan College.
Clay and his wife Wendy own Clay Street Studio in Belington. Additional information is available by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Beth Christian Broschart by e-mail at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ITM_Broschart.