Briefly describe the work that you do.
I create brightly glazed ceramic sculptures with a focus on understanding our world through examining perception, representation, and location. The pieces frequently take the form of animals, but also draw from, food, landscape, and the world around us.
At what point in your life did you decide to become an artist?
As a kid I was always interested in art, and making things, but I don’t think that it was until my sophomore year in college when I decided that art would be my “career.” I almost became a history major due to my disdain of “Introduction to Drawing” but I found myself drawn to ceramics and sculpture and the rest was history.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I grew up in a small town called Abingdon, VA, which is in the mountainous southwestern corner of the state. Growing up, my mother was a hand weaver, so I was raised with an appreciation for hand made goods, and working with your hands.
Since 2001 I have lived all over the county. I was interested in the Funk movement, which brought me to the Bay Area in the fall of 2001. The funny thing was that when I arrived there everyone was wondering what the hell I was doing, and I realized I was 20 years to late. Ever since then, I have not made a huge effort to move to places where I felt that my work would “fit in”.
What types of conceptual concerns are present in your work? How do those relate to the specific process(es) or media you use?
I am interested in how things are represented, throughout culture and how that influences our view of the world. Probably 95 percent of my work is ceramic, and ceramics has a very lengthy and colorful history. What I like about ceramics it that it gives the work a since of “democracy” meaning that clay is a pretty accessible material. People have often made something with clay, or have a lot of ceramic objects around them. There are not a lot of “tricks” to what I do, so it is usually fairly clear how I made the objects, for me that can be a point of access into the work. As I have been working with ceramics for over fifteen years, there are some material subtleties, which come into play such as my use of glaze, and layering different commercial products. Some of these are readily apparent, yet others are more subtle things that probably only people with a ceramics background would appreciate.
We once heard Chuck Close say he did not believe in being inspired, rather in working hard everyday. What motivates you in your studio practice?
I am interested in the completion of the “big idea.” Many times I have the idea for the finished product, and it is a process of completing it. Of course things change along the way through the working process. A lot of the time the “idea” emerges from the process of working in the studio, and/or that idea extends from one piece to the next one. I do find inspiration from a lot of things outside of the studio, be it art, music, popular culture, or the outside world
What artists living or non-living influence your work?
Clayton Bailey, Bruce Nauman, Andy Warhol, John James Audubon, Stuart Davis, and Gregory Blackstock
When you are not making art what types of activities and interests do you engage in?
I am an avid birdwatcher. I run marathons and ultra-marathons, and am preparing to defend my title at the Sole Challenge 24 hour race, in Fayetteville, PA this May. When I am not doing those things I enjoy fly-fishing, Twins Baseball, and Ravens Football. I am also considering becoming a NFL coach.
Peter Morgan is a native son of Virginia holding a BA in from Roanoke College, a BFA from the California College or Arts and Crafts, and a MFA in Ceramics from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University.
Currently Peter is a resident artist the Clay Studio in Philadelphia where he maintains his practice, and in 2012 was the Clay Studio’s Evelyn Shapiro Foundation Fellowship recipient. He is a founding member of an artist run space in Philadelphia called Practice, which focuses on performance, participation, and experimentation.
Peter has taught at California State University: Long Beach and Gettysburg College. He has exhibited across the United States and Europe, with notable exhibitions including his 2012 Evelyn Shapiro Foundation Fellowship exhibition at the Clay Studio and the 67th Scripps Ceramics Annual. His work is in the permanent collections of the Shine Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art, the California College of the Arts, and the Archie Bray Foundation.
Peter has given lectures on his work at a numerous institutions including Louisiana State University, Penn State University, the Kansas City Art Institute, and the Central Academy of Fine Art, Bejing. He has completed residencies at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, MT and the Belden Brick Factory in Sugar Creek, OH.
When Peter is not working in the studio, he is an avid bird watcher, runs marathons and ultra-marathons, and enjoys home brewing and fly-fishing.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.