Casey Taylor: “I completely fell in love with Kingston’s creative community…”
Ever since Casey Taylor picked up a pencil to draw at age two, she’s been creating in her distinctive way—primarily as a ceramics artist though she is drawn to fabric as well. She moved to the Hudson Valley 14 years ago and says it was the first time she felt like she was home: the feeling has never left. “My favorite pieces have started out with me saying ‘wouldn’t it be funny if I made…’” she says, citing inspirations that range from 90s cartoons and retro fast-food packaging to retro fabric designs.
When did you first know you were an artist?
I have this picture of me when I was probably around two years old. I’m sitting at this little plastic table drawing a picture. I recently noticed I’m holding that pencil exactly how I hold a pencil today. My dad (an engineer) even went through a phase trying to get me to hold a pencil ‘the right way’ when I was a little older. I think I knew back then I was an artist at least in a small way, because I never wavered in how I hold my tools!
What are the favorite medium(s) you use to make your art?
Ceramics is the main material I use, and also my number one favorite! But I also bring in fabric on occasion, and I’m hoping to do more with that in the near future.
What are the most interesting new trends in your field? Is your work changing as a result?
My favorite new trend right now is this stuff referred to as “Clayze” and it’s basically a very thick clay-like glaze. I really want to do some tests, but first I have to do some sleuthing to see if any clay friends are willing to share their recipes! I have some plans for ways to incorporate it into my work, but I’ll keep that a surprise!
Tell us a little about your creative process – where/when do you get most of your ideas and how do you know a piece is ‘finished’?
A lot of my inspiration comes from 90’s cartoons and retro fast-food packaging, particularly my favorite, Taco Bell. I suppose retro patterned fabric is a source of inspiration also. My ideas have come at all times of day, but for the most part, I get a lot of ideas while hanging out and joking around with friends. My favorite pieces have started out with me saying “wouldn’t it be funny if I made…” Knowing when a piece is finished has always been a tough thing, and I think a lot of makers out there feel that too. When I’m trouble-shooting a new design, I usually let myself overwork it as much as I want, because coming back and remaking it will make it easier to feel when it’s finished, sorta like a 3-D blueprint for future pieces!
Do you also teach or are you strictly a creative artist? Who was your most influential mentor and why?
I’m mostly a creative artist, but I do enjoy teaching. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has made me pause the teaching end until my partner and I are fully vaccinated. But this summer, I do plan to do some teaching and maybe some workshops at Kingston Ceramics Studio.
As far as mentors go, I’m very lucky to have a few who’ve really helped me throughout my short time as an artist. My professors in college, Bryan Czibesz and Anat Shiftan, encouraged me to join the BFA program at SUNY New Paltz and gave me opportunities, and helped me in ways I am so grateful for. My ceramics fairy godfather, as I like to call him (he doesn’t know that though), is Brett Kern, an amazing ceramics sculptor who was a visiting artist while I was in college. He encouraged me to finish a piece that eventually made it into the NCECA Student Juried exhibition and won an honorable mention. He juried my first post-college show in 2017 that prompted me to focus on my ceramic work, and most recently he invited me to participate in the 2020 Margarita Cup invitational show, after which I had gained more visibility in the ceramics community and was able to start making work full time. In our community though, the owner of Kingston Ceramics Studio, Lex Feldheim, has been an amazing source of support and encouragement, both in providing much-needed workspace and firing for myself and so many local makers, as well as giving advice and being a source of knowledge that’s helped me navigate being a working artist.
How has being in Kingston inspired, enhanced, or changed your work? If you live or work in the Midtown Arts District, what do you like best about it? How long have you lived in Kingston or the Hudson Valley?
I moved to Kingston about three years ago and live a few blocks from Kingston Ceramics Studio and Bailey Pottery Supply right in the Midtown Arts District. Since moving here, I’ve worked as an assistant at Kingston Ceramics Studio and I completely fell in love with Kingston’s creative community both in and out of my field.
I’ve lived in the Hudson Valley for about 14 years and moved here to live with my aunt in Rhinebeck after being “re-homed” by my Dad. Being in the Hudson Valley is the first time I’ve felt like I am home, and that feeling has never left. I’ve been part of surrounding communities here since moving to the valley in high school, but there’s just something so special about Kingston. My aunt was hired to clean up BSP before it was the venue and community staple it grew into, and we kids would come along to help out. I remember back then just loving this city. Watching it go through growing pains with the skyrocketing housing prices and the influx of wealthy people leaving NYC has been really hard. But seeing our community rally to combat gentrification and rent hikes is reassuring: the people here aren’t just makers—they’re “movers and shakers”—and I think that’s what I like best about Midtown.
What are you working on now? Anything coming up you’d like to tell our readers about?
I have a few things in the works! There will be a show opening digitally on April 1st at Gallery Mos•Taza in Harper, KS, called Imposters Cup Show. All of us participating ceramicists were given the name of another participant and we will each be replicating another’s work: it’s going to be a lot of fun to try and guess who’s who! Additionally, a far-away friend, Phi, (@phipottery on Instagram) is doing some amazing work in Tacoma, WA, improving and expanding their studio to make an inclusive and welcoming creative space for BIPOC and LGBTQIA people living in the area. They are fundraising to help offset expenses so they can offer scholarships to marginalized communities, as well as donate to causes like BLM. I’ll be making several one-of-a-kind pieces that will be auctioned off in their next few fundraisers along with some really fun work from other artists, so that’s something to keep an eye out for as well.