Robert Hessler: Curiosity as Creative Muse

There are always elements you can’t entirely control. The beauty lies in the imperfections and in the joy and excitement of discovery.
– Robert Hessler

When did you first know you were an artist?
I’ve been a creative type since I am a little kid but I think I identified myself as an artist during my second year in art school, when I got more serious and focused with making work and developing more of a vision.

Favorite medium(s) you use to make art?
I would have to say clay. There are so many processes and applications involved with the material that the possibilities are seemingly endless.

What are the most interesting new trends in your field? Is your work changing as a result?
It seems that at the moment, 3D printing of ceramics is quite a big trend. There are things that can be achieved by “printing” with clay that can’t be achieved by hand and are quite beautiful. That being said, I think the power of clay work lies in the evidence of work of the human hand and that connection between human and object.

Talk about your creative process – where/when do you get most of your ideas and how do you know a piece is ‘finished’?
My creative process is inspired largely by the materials I work with as well as the joy of playing and exploring. I am most excited and involved with my work when the presupposed question is ‘what if?’ (What if I tried this with a glaze? What if I combined these two glazes over each other? What would it look like if I did “this”? etc.). I always say that curiosity is the creative muse.

Do you also teach or are you strictly a creative artist? Who was your most influential mentor and why? How do you see the role of being a mentor? and why?
I do workshops and teach occasionally, but I am primarily a working artist. I would say that the person who inspired me most and helped propel me to decide to do what I am doing is the artist Beatrice Wood. She started working with clay at around 46 and continued working pretty close up to her death at the age of 105. Her longevity and creative impulsivity really captivated me. I never met her but still consider her and her work as a mentor.

I think the role of a mentor is someone who inspires and guides others to keep going by being a living example. I think that is the nobility of living a creative life – to inspire others to create.

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What are you working on now?
Right now I am working on what I call “The Counting Series” – I am applying colored clay slip dots to my porcelain forms and counting them as they are being applied. I enjoy the meditative aspect of this as well as the end result being a pure vision of handwork and intention. This is in contrast to my main body of work that is partially reliant on what happens with the glazes in the firing – there is intention there but there is also some educated guessing and randomness involved.

Ceramicist Robert Hessler: Flawless Imperfection (September 19, 2017)
Read it here.

Q&A with Ceramic Artist Robert Hessler (January 24, 2017)
Read it here.

Robert Hessler: Ceramicist
A film by Stephen Blauweiss
View it here.

Robert Hessler Studio
77 Cornell Street, Suite #413
Kingston, NY 12401
By Appointment

(845) 532-2872