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Olen Hsu

Teaching Artist - Current

Freely applied slips and glazes run and collect in pools. Sometimes, passages on fired surfaces suggest mountains, craters, rivers, vistas, waterfalls, smoke — these can't be planned. They come as surprises. 

Layers of materials fuse and change to glass in the kiln, and more and more I am searching for ways to deepen this sense of surrendering to the alchemy of nature, of succumbing to the mystery of the unknown.

The longer I work with clay, the more it seems to me that true work rests in simply getting out of the way — in giving space and opportunity for materials to speak, on their own, of their own accord. Supporting them, and tending to them, but ultimately working in their service and not the other way around.

For now, "getting out of the way" appears as a kind of unlearning of my techniques — putting everything I think I’ve learned to the side, letting go, watching what happens in front of me. Letting go of expectation.

When watching a piece emerge in this way, I set out in hope of finding something that I do not recognize.