Member Profile: Amy Rosen
Amy moved to Poughkeepsie, NY in 2011 from Rockland County, where she grew up and raised her children. She began her artistic expression with painting and started creating folk art, painting pieces such as cows and barns on furniture and recycled trash for about 20 years. As her experimentation with various mediums and styles progressed, she gradually developed a passion for abstract art. She took painting classes at Rockland Center for the Arts, but felt her practice really blossomed when she moved here and began taking weekly classes at Woodstock School of Art for about 8 years.
In 2012 Amy began learning pottery at Hudson Valley Pottery where she met Lex, who later founded Kingston Ceramics Studio. Amy enjoyed Lex’s insight and followed her to Art Centro where she continued working with ceramics for about a year before putting it aside to focus on her painting. During the pandemic, Amy (like many of us) found it very difficult to connect with art and struggled to paint for almost a year. Instead of trying to force inspiration for painting, she decided to return to ceramics.
In the winter of 2021, she saw her good friend, Phyllis Busell, posting beautiful ceramics work on Facebook and was intrigued to know what studio she’d be working at. Once she learned that it was Kingston Ceramics Studio, she knew she had to join. She took a few classes but ended up wanting to figure it out herself, so she became a KCS member. She is grateful that the community of members and staff within the studio has created such a supportive and inspiring space for her to find her own way and keep her work organic. When she is not working at KCS, she is working in her backyard studio.
Amy is primarily a hand builder and finds that her favorite tool to work with is just her hands. She is confident that her organic work could be built with nothing more than a pin tool and the wooden sculpting tool that comes in any basic initial tool kit.
“You might be shocked to see my unorthodox methods, but they are mine and get the work done. I'm a bit of a 4th generation cave lady!”
She finds inspiration from her experiences in the world. For example, some of her work has been influenced by a memorable trip she took to Tuscany, Italy in 2012 where she became enamored with the ancient, weathered buildings and the cracked and crumbling stone walls which displayed an abundance of natural and aged textures.
“I approach my work much like an abstract painting, created without much intention, asking myself questions along the way: What if I do this, add, or cut away this? The shape, lines, marks, and distressed surface are connected to my paintings and inspire me to paint again. Ceramics is a great complement to my other work, and they inform each other.”
Amy is now back working with both mediums, paint and ceramics, and has found that they commingle in a beautiful way that inspires her in both directions.
Member Profile: Phyllis
An artist from an early age, Phyllis was always drawn to ceramics, but her path to the craft was not direct.
No Clay at SVA
Born and raised in Queens, New York, Phyllis's yearning to play with clay began at a young age. At the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan, she was disappointed that the school lacked a ceramics program. Her dismay only deepened when she later attended the School of Visual Arts, which also did not see any value in working with clay. When Phyllis and her friends tried to convince the school to include ceramics in the curriculum, the school president dismissed their enthusiasm saying students would not be taught to make “pots and ashtrays”. This was frustrating, but Phyllis’ desire to work with clay was only strengthened.
Beautiful Clay in the Neighborhood
Pivoting to graphic design, Phyllis soon found herself submerged in the world of editorial layouts freelancing for various business to business magazines. Her latent passion for ceramics was just waiting for the right moment. That moment arrived in 2011 during a walk around her neighborhood when she passed a community ceramics studio by chance and popped in to take a look. The old feeling of wanting to work with clay came flooding back. Welcomed by the studio’s instructor, Phyllis signed up for the next session and she immediately fell in love with making pottery, attending weekly classes for almost a decade.
A Warm Community
With a yearning for more living space and relaxation, Phyllis and her husband transitioned from city life to their Hudson Valley home in 2020. She bought a pottery wheel and all of her tools to her beloved screened-in porch home studio, “I can’t live without my pottery!” Phyllis planned to find an alternative studio when it got cold, and when winter approached Kingston Ceramics Studio became the place. Though she initially intended to use the studio solely during the colder months, the camaraderie and creative energy of the community held her. The studio's vibrant atmosphere, filled with artists sharing techniques, stories, and laughter, was irresistible.
Pots of Luck
The unpredictable dance of ceramics is both its charm and challenge. The name she chose for her pottery business, "Pots of Luck" reflects this idea. “When I first started, everytime I would throw something it would always come out as a vase. After a while I thought, what else can I do with this? I turned a vase on its side and thought, ‘Oh, it’s a piggy bank!’” She gets a lot of enjoyment from these surprises, but not every surprise is a good one. Phyllis knows that at every stage, something unfortunate can happen to her piece. “It could break or crack... If the piece makes it to the end of the process, it's lucky! Even glazing… you may think you know what you're going to get but then it doesn't turn out as expected. Sometimes it's a lucky mistake. It's all about how you perceive it. You just have to keep making and moving forward!”
Phyllis’ pottery practice has transformed from a hobby to an essential part of her life. Each piece she crafts is functional and brimming with personality. “If I see a need, I like to fill it,” she says when describing how she decides what to make. From elegant wine glasses with ceramic stems for an art show at the Red Maple Vineyard to playful piggy banks, her works are a testament to her creative spirit. To explore more of her enchanting pieces, one can dive into her Instagram feed.
Have you ever felt a similar pull towards a long-lost love or hobby? Dive into the comments and share your journey.
When I was growing up in Milwaukee, there was a local university that offered summer courses for kids. One summer I signed up for ceramics and was so disappointed when they wouldn’t teach me wheel throwing as an 8 year-old. I almost took it again as a freshman in high school but was also drawn to music, which became my primary extracurricular activity, social world and eventual source of income––playing in a piano bar (called The Mosaic!) two nights a week for $40 under the table.
After getting a Bachelor of Music as a pianist at the University of Wisconsin, I moved to NYC in 2012 and (somehow) survived as a freelance musician, primarily working with singers in opera, musical theater and cabaret. My first trip to the Hudson Valley was in 2013 when I started as Principal Music Coach on the opera productions for Bard SummerScape. Since 2018, I have been a Visiting Artist in Residence at Bard College, teaching in the Conservatory and Music Program, and love living here full-time.
I began taking classes at KCS in January 2022 and became a member in May, finally learning how to throw, and spending as much time as I can in the studio. I am eternally fascinated by the endless possibilities of form and function that ceramics provide and their interaction with space and light. I’m also interested in its sonic potential and musical instrument construction. Paralleling my work in music, my hands are the most direct and useful tool for getting all the ideas out of my brain, and clay is a bit more tangible than sound. I find the ancient alchemy of combining earth, water, fire and air to create humbling and awe-inspiring.
Handbuilt free-form planter and catch plate, red stoneware with Nickle Yellow glaze.
Handbuilt free-form planter and catch plate, red stoneware with Nickle Yellow glaze.
Member Profile: Elissa Bromberg
Elissa Bromberg has been an active member at Kingston Ceramics Studio for the past three years. Although she started working with clay twelve years ago, she has been an artist nearly her entire life. Starting in New York City as a Sculpture undergraduate at the School of Visual Arts, she continued to live in NYC and explore a variety of mediums, as well as spending time working as an art therapist.
She left NYC and moved up to the Hudson Valley 16 years ago and has resided here ever since. What she loves most about working at Kingston Ceramics Studio is the community and the mutual respect between members that exists.
“My work explores the raw essences of the human encounter through the use of archetypes. Inspired by theater, puppetry, and the carnival arts, my sculpture becomes a collective experience of emotion, thought, movement, and spirit in a complex world that pairs love with loss, empathy with suffering, belongingness with exclusion.”
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