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Q + A with Tracie Hervy

Working with a pared down palette and stripping away all superfluities so that only the essence of the form is apparent, ceramicist Tracie Hervy’s work is a study of the fundamentals. With an education in ceramics that began in the studios of Greenwich House Pottery and concluded with an MFA in ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design, Hervy’s work is meticulous and dripping with beauty.

The Primary Essentials: How did you find your way into ceramics?

Tracie Hervy: An artist I dated briefly in 2009 introduced me to ceramics. At the time I was running a small business, and painting in the evening and on weekends; the business was supporting my art habit. As my skills as a painter developed and I began to see real progress, it soon became the only thing I wanted to do; I wanted to spend more time going deeper, but had to stop myself so I would be well rested for the coming workday. In ceramics I saw a way of putting an end to this bifurcated existence, to make art the means to making a living. I wasn’t wedded to a particular medium. What was essential, however, was to work with my hands and to give a physical reality (unmediated) to my ideas. My first love is architecture, and like architecture, ceramics is an art that is part of our everyday. They are objects we have a very physical relationship with.

TPE: Do you work by yourself or with a small team?

TH: By myself.

TPE: Your work is very paired down, a reason why we like it so much at TPE. Are there any inspirations for you behind the shapes you choose to create?

TH: My first teacher at Greenwich House told me that the real test for someone interested in developing their throwing skills is the cylinder. (Not a bowl, but a cylinder.) It’s a basic building block (there is nothing to hide behind.) Within that form is the potential for infinite variety. And whether something works or not… subtle details make a huge difference as to whether something succeeds or fails. I don’t know if it’s something that other people perceive, but I can see and feel the difference.

TPE: You have said that all superfluities are stripped away in your work, does this idea penetrate into the rest of your life in terms of objects / items you keep around?

TH: Yes. Mostly it’s about having space to breathe and think. But my partner is a maximalist so I’ve had to compromise on some things. Not always a bad thing.

TPE: At home which tabletop items do you find get the most repeated use?

TH: Mugs, bowls and plates. I gotta eat and drink. My favorite mugs include a small white one that’s my own and a mug by Steven Berge. My favorite plates I bought 15 years ago at Crate and Barrel; they are big, great for stacking, I love the profile. Also a set from Jane Herald. And my white tall slim cylinder…

TPE: What are 3 things that you are really enjoying right now ? (can be a place, food, show, book, song, whatever)

TH: The new studio, the view from my window (I love watching the ships and barges sail by, and the sunsets… this never gets old), and Alex Katz’s paintings on glass at the 57th street subway stop.