Our inaugural Clay Festival has been fortunate enough to attract some top talent to our event, which will give Festival participants the opportunity to be introduced to some new clay-related topics, or to have a more in-depth experience with a hands-on workshop or demonstration.
One of those top talents is Shel Neymark, who is presenting a two-day Design, Create, Install Ceramic Tile workshop (August 3rd and 4th) during the Festival. Shel’s workshop will teach participants how to go from design to installation of handmade ceramic tiles, and because he’s a working artist with years of experience, you can be guaranteed that you’ll walk away from his workshop with some incredibly useful information.
Shel’s design philosophy, according to his website:
“I strive to make beautiful things. To me, beauty is profound.
Much of my work involves an exploration of color. I love to experiment with how colors interact with each other and create various moods. That we humans can perceive color is a gift.
I like to create lively welcoming spaces. Many of our public and private spaces are alienating. There is too much gray cement. Buildings are big, intimidating and colorless. Parking lots dominate our built environment. Places to linger and gather are discouraged. I hope to create work that brings warmth into peoples lives.
Life is mysterious, the universe and natural world incomprehensibly complex. It would be foolhardy to try to copy nature. I am inspired by the beauty around me and try to create a reflection of it in my work.”
Shel’s enchantment with handmade tiles and installations came soon after arriving in New Mexico:
“The first time I saw a handmade sink in a tile counter was shortly after I moved to New Mexico in 1976. It was from Mexico and I thought it was lovely. It was being used as a bar sink in the middle of one of the more prestigious galleries in Santa Fe. There I was at an opening, barefoot and scruffy as I often was in those days, on my hands and knees looking up under the sink to see how it was made. “I could do that,” I thought. A few months later, a friend commissioned me to make a sink and tiles for her bathroom, and they have been part of my repertoire ever since.”
Although Shel’s work as a potter was mostly sculpture, large decorative pots and architectural pieces, he says that a trip to Europe changed all of that:
“A trip to Europe in 1981 was a profound catalyst for change in my work. I saw Victorian decorative relief tiles used profusely on buildings in England, Moorish geometric mosaics in Spain and Morocco, Gaudi’s shard mosaics in Barcelona and the pictorial reliefs of the Della Robbias in Italy. Each of these styles influenced my designs for various projects in the ensuing years. By the mid 1980s, I found that one-of-a-kind tile installations were my most enjoyable, satisfying and lucrative pieces. I decided to phase out most of the other work I was doing.” – “Residential Tile” (from Ceramics Monthly in 1994)
Some of Shel’s signature works are public installations, such as the Rosalie Doolittle Fountain at the Rio Grande Botanic Garden in Albuquerque, and the Las Palomas Plaza in Truth or Consequences, and he says that “Creating public art is both an honor and responsibility.”
Shel Neymark was born in Chicago and attended Washington University (St. Louis Missouri), earning a BFA in Ceramics in 1974. He currently resides in Embudo, NM, where he also keeps himself busy with such diverse interests as jazz violin and piano, canoeing, cross country skiing, and tap dancing. See more of Shel’s tile, glass, and custom tile designs at his site, ShelNeymark.com.