Colby Charpentier grew up in Smithfield, RI where he began building and firing wood kilns at the studio of Bruce Lenore. He went on to study ceramics and glass at Alfred University, where he graduated with a BFA in 2013. He then worked as a studio assistant to Chris Gustin and Daniel Clayman for three years, while engaged in an artist residency at Dew Claw Studios. He most recently completed a 6 month residency at Sonoma Ceramics in Sonoma, California and was Artist in Residence at the Morean Center for Clay in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Informed by my background as a potter, I produce sculptural ceramic objects that investigate architectural forms. I am specifically interested in industrial architectural sites such as mill buildings, water towers, and grain elevators. I draw comparisons between these sites and archetypical pottery forms, and employ the vessel format to investigate these correlations.
When designing form, I try to capture the weight, balance, and movement present in industrial architecture. Scale is an immediate separation between architecture and pottery, but if we can suspend that hang-up, the language is the same. While conventional notions of utility are obscured, the translation of architecture to clay leads to a better understanding of both constituent parts. Silo is cylinder; roof is lid; ground is table. These are all utilitarian objects. If we can begin to respond to pottery the same way we are influenced by architectural spaces, we can better appreciate why certain shapes are so important.
In the studio, I use curiosity as a driving force. I hold myself accountable as a maker by ensuring that I am constantly asking questions about objects and the world around me. Each question I pose defines me and reflexively refines the questions that I’m asking. The objects that I produce are a residue of this process. Often, I’ll focus on a single moment of architecture, trying to find appropriate adaptions for the vessel format. In clay, I find the translation is rather immediate. Clay can act as steel, concrete, glass, and capture the essence of architectural forms. I hope that by processing architecture through the lens of clay, I find new possibilities.