Robert Chamberlain – Boston, Massachusetts

Fountain 10 2014 Porcelain with porcelain decoration  16" x 14.5" x 16"
Fountain 10
Porcelain with porcelain decoration
16″ x 14.5″ x 16″

Briefly describe the work you do.

I am a conceptual artist living and working in Boston, Massachusetts where I recently received my MFA from Tufts University and The School of the Museum of Fine Art. Working across media (photography, performance, ceramics etc.) to express ideas and promote conversation. I tackle projects that channel a contemporary socio-political issues like surveillance, sexuality, and domesticity through a personal lens.

Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.

I was raised on the move in a military family moving from Germany, South Carolina, California, Massachusetts, Georgia and again to MA. Studying photography in undergrad was vital in my arts education.  Georgia State University was an amazing place to be educated both with its location inside of Atlanta and its opportunity to study both art and indulge in sociology, rhetoric, history and sciences. My final project was a sixth month performance of identity at my job of the time waiting tables.  The project culminated in a book of documents and images.

It was in undergrad that I dabbled in the ceramics department filling all of my electives with ceramics classes becoming an honorary ceramics major.  It was in graduate school at SMFA/Tufts that I went back to clay and as my thesis “Fill Me Up” a 106 piece ceramic installation.  this set me on my continued exploration of desire through porcelain.

Fountain 04 2014 Porcelain with porcelain decoration  11" x 14" x 15"

Fountain 04
Porcelain with porcelain decoration
11″ x 14″ x 15″

The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

 I think the notion that being an artist means you are struggling over a blank canvas all day waiting for inspiration etc…  is a way out dated and antiquated notion.  While I am sure some artists who identify as a painter do spend some time contemplating the empty space on a canvas, I’m sure they are spending other time reading, researching, and critiquing or doing something outside the limits of the traditional studio.  

My practice is studio and equipment specific most of the time, but that is only considering the physical production of objects.  In order to create a body of work a concept will be thoroughly explored and filtered through that artists lens or voice, in my case lately porcelain. I hold my library time, museum visits, lectures to be just as important if not more than time in my ceramic or digital lab. 

I am currently have a studio in the Harvard Ceramics Program where I am an Independent Artist.  Luckily I live in Boston and am able to take advantage of the many many free talks that are always happening. 

Fountain 03 2014 Porcelain with porcelain decoration  15" x 14" x 14"

Fountain 03
Porcelain with porcelain decoration
15″ x 14″ x 14″

When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?

At this point in my career my schedule seems to be constantly shifting and studio time has to adjust around that, sometimes meaning studio from 7am -11:30  going to work and then returning after to finish.  Currently I am able to have two half days devoted to the studio and try to get there during the week if I can.  (talking of my studio as the place of physical work being made)

How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?

My work has changed a lot in the last five years going from a photography focused practice to one that thinks much more broadly about media.  Context will also continue to shift my work, having recently graduated from grad school I have an extreme cut off to equipment.  Living in Boston is also drastically different in terms of living space than Atlanta, GA.  If my computer of camera brake tomorrow or i brake my leg my practice will shift again.

Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?

My family has had a great deal to do with my work and who I am as a person.  My friends and peers are always inspiring me and making me want to push harder and do more!

Chamberlin_365_workinstudio2If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?

I think to have the sole occupation of artist is something that few people experience.  I am a teacher, barista, server, etc  Once in a while I do like to fantasize about being a doctor, but  I think that has more to do with a Grey’s Anatomy fantasy than an interest in medicine.


All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.
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2 Responses to Robert Chamberlain – Boston, Massachusetts

  1. H.K.Anne says:

    Do all of the artists have to be connected to Boston and be a professor?

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