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Visual Art
Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015 5 years ago

Studio Space: Kim Westad

Westad left a life in graphic design to get her hands dirty and create in clay.
by: Nick Reichert Arts & Entertainment Editor

Kim Westad was hesitant about getting dirty. But a persistent friend kept insisting she take a ceramics class, so she finally gave in and tried it. Now, 14 years later, Westad says she’s grateful for the artistic intervention. Throwing clay and creating ceramic works of art has been the center of her life ever since. Getting messy isn’t just part of the job — it’s now part of her passion.

“Before I started learning, the whole thing didn’t seem like it was for me,” she says. “Now, it’s a filth show in my studio. It’s funny how things change.”

I’m very much into the sensory experience. I want you to have a beautifully shaped bowl you wanted to eat out of, but I also want something you were happy to have in your hands."

After that introductory class in New Haven, Conn., Westad was hooked. She says she did whatever it took to pursue her passion. She found a studio near her home in Brooklyn, and in exchange for access, she swept after hours, cleaned the studio and classroom spaces and loaded and fired kilns. With each new piece, Westad improved her skills.

After moving to Sarasota last year, she converted her garage into a personal studio and began selling her work online.

“It always starts with the form. if I don’t have a strong form, the thing goes in the scrap barrel. That’s what defines my pieces: the form.”

Inside her studio, Westad works at a fervid pace, quickly lining the walls with projects in various stages of completion, including hand-shaped bowls, vases, mugs and assorted sculptures. She lets the pieces air dry, then fires them in her kiln at 1,945 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, she paints them with her trademark vibrant colors and textural details and sells them online to customers across the country.

Amid the clay, paint and heat, Westad says she’s found meaning in the mess.

"I recently started making more sculptural pieces. To me they’re more personal. I’ve taken over the office upstairs with these pieces where the idea is basically a building, a three-dimensional object versus a flat object using the same materials."

“It’s funny,” she says. “My sister-in-law was saying I should try yoga. I hated it, because that’s not the way I focus. But when I get on the wheel, that’s my yoga. It’s completely Zen for me.”


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